Gray Benoist was a doting father and like most, loved his two sons to bits. Both were autistic but that made no difference to his feelings but once they grew up, he realized that the world continues to view them “differently” even though they are capable and smart. Both his sons had very few or no options when it came to getting a job, which could take care of their needs and allow them to express their skills, in their way.
Not the man to be disgruntled, Benoist started his very own company in 2013, known as Mindsparks, where his sons could work. The start-up was basically a coding unit but the environment was kept easy. Soon they started a lot of work, so much so that today it is a strong 150 employee company. It was taken over by a German firm in 2015 and is now known as Auticon.
All the 150 employees are autistic and their aim is enabling a group who have been disenfranchised. Thus the working rules at Auticon are different – if employees want headphones due to noise sensitivity they can have them. They also have the option to work in a dark room if they prefer, they don't have to take lunch breaks if they do not want them and if they do not feel able to communicate verbally with their team-mates, they can use messaging apps instead. If things get too much for someone, they are entitled to "anxiety days off".
Auticon still delivers and delivers well because it has designed processes which are first sensitive to the employee needs.
Truly an incredible story, making one wonder why we in India continue to look at autistics as mentally deranged and incapable, relegating them to a life of curse and scorn. Isn’t it time the fastest growing economy in the world makes a place for autistics too, where they too are recognized as people, not “different people.”