- Associated Press - Saturday, September 9, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A Fargo-based nonprofit that aims to find meaningful careers for people on the autism spectrum is looking to expand to Bismarck.

Mind Shift currently has about 30 specialists placed with employers in Fargo and Minneapolis, The Bismarck Tribune reported. It also has opened an office in Milwaukee.

Business Development Director James Whirlwind Soldier said he wants companies to understand the value of such employees not only from a charitable standpoint but also because they’re highly qualified.

Whirlwind Soldier knows from experience. His previous employer, Fargo-based Dog ID, was a Mind Shift client.

“They do bring great value,” he said. “All they said I could expect I received. I was just so happy to have that gentleman on our team.”

Whirlwind Soldier said the hired specialists do a variety of work, including IT, payroll, accounts processing and precision assembly for high-tech manufacturing companies.

“It’s about really listening to what they want to do and finding employment that resonates with their interests and skill set,” he said.

Trisha Page is the behavioral health services director at nonprofit Anne Carlsen Center and a former state autism coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Human Services. She said employers will quickly recognize those with autism develop unique and extreme interest areas that lead to higher skill sets.

“It’s a really big opportunity for young adults in the area,” Page said.

Page, who has a son on the spectrum, said that he likes video games. She said his interest could lead him to a career as a programmer if he is given the chance.

“He has a real opportunity to do what he loves,” she said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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