International Specialisterne Community

Specialisterne Canada

Specialisterne Canada Inc., a charitable not-for-profit Canadian organization, focused on building a bridge between neurodivergent job seekers and employers. We support employers to tap into the talents of a neurodiverse workforce and build inclusive organizations through education, training, and advisory.

Specialisterne Foundation

Specialisterne Foundation is a non-for-profit organization that works to enable one million jobs for people with autism and similar challenges.

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How I gained a new lease on my career as an adult with autism

…Mancini was in his early 40s when he learned he has autism. His diagnosis and the lack of support he received all his life, were the answers to the questions he had been asking himself for years. They explained why he struggled to hold a job, why making friends was so hard and why so many of his relationships failed.


Doing more for neurodivergent candidates


After the diagnosis, change would only come when Mancini connected with Specialisterne, an international non-profit organization that works with businesses to hire candidates who are neurodivergent.


Since 2016, TD Bank Group (TD) has worked with Specialisterne to hire 85 neurodivergent colleagues in Canada and the United States for full-time and contract positions. Their roles range from software engineers to risk analysts.


Most of the neurodivergent colleagues hired through Specialisterne are working in technology roles for the Bank’s Platforms and Technology team, which welcomed eight new colleagues through the program in August. The Bank has also hired neurodivergent colleagues for roles in TD Insurance, Finance, Risk Management and other groups.


Mancini was hired as a business analyst with TD Wealth in 2021 and is responsible for extracting and packaging stock and stock options data for clients.


The Specialisterne program directly addresses the historically low employment of autistic people. According to the most recent Canadian Survey on Disability, only 33% of autistic people surveyed in Canada between the ages of 20 and 64 are employed. The numbers are even worse in the U.S., where 85% of autistic adults surveyed were unemployed in 2022, a Deloitte report found.


“The traditional job hiring process can immediately place autistic people at a disadvantage,” said Doug Harris, a member of the Platforms and Technology People with Disabilities subcommittee focused on raising awareness about hiring neurodivergent talent at TD.


“They struggle to get in because traditional interview methods fail them,” said Harris. “They’ll look away [during the job interview], not out of disrespect but because they’re focusing on what’s being said to them. Their body cues and body language may be different and can be misinterpreted. Hiring managers don’t always know that.”


TD, which plans to hire 20 colleagues through Specialisterne this year, has worked with the organization to replace the traditional hiring process with an inclusive assessment tailor-made for autistic candidates. Their preferences and accommodations are disclosed to hiring managers before they meet. Rather than an interview, candidates complete a series of exercises to evaluate their skill sets. The final step involves giving each candidate an opportunity to perform in the role for a week to determine their fit.


“If employers level the playing field, both during the hiring process and afterwards through accommodation, autistic colleagues can shine,” Harris said. He’s personally seen it at TD.


“Our autistic colleagues have won performance awards,” he said. “They’ve been promoted. They’ve done some amazing things. I’m not saying they’re special because of that. I’m saying they’re no different than you or I.”

Read the entire article in TD Stories here: https://stories.td.com/ca/en/article/specialisterne-canada