By some estimates, the unemployment rate for people on the autism spectrum is as high as 90 percent.

So Gray Benoist helped found MindSpark, a Santa Monica based company that trains and employs individuals with specialized abilities. After five years in Santa Monica and Culver City, the company was acquired by Auticon, an IT and technology solution business that employs consultants and analysts who are on the spectrum.

Benoist said without Auticon, MindSpark was a business contained to the Los Angeles area. But with Auticon’s resources, MindSpark will have the opportunity to grow throughout the area and the country.

“What Auticon brings is a proven methodology and proven service models that increase the level of employment we’re able to do,” he said. “And accelerate that level of employment. It’s a very, very exciting acquisition.”

Benoist, who has two sons on the spectrum, said MindSpark was a successful business but was “contained.” Auticon, which is based in London and Berlin, will provide MindSpark with a plethora of opportunities.

Rebecca Beam, the U.S. Managing Director for Auticon, said combining models from each company will lead to more jobs for people on the spectrum.

“The fact that we are now a global organization is unbelievable, but that we can touch so many more lives across the U.S., I’m incredibly proud of what this organization has accomplished, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of Auticon,” she said.

Beam stressed that MindSpark is a business – not a charity – and competes with other companies in their field. She said the quality of their service is “everything.”

Gray Benoist Jr, who works as the assistant treasurer at MindSpark, said companies like Auticon are extremely important for people who are on the spectrum.

“It’s so that people on the spectrum can be independent and also have a place in society,” he said. “Which they should have, because they are able to do things.”

The elder Benoist said one of the things he wants to work on with the newfound resources is outreach. He said MindSpark’s outreach programs, which have been underfunded, can now expand throughout the Los Angeles area and the country.

Auticon was launched in 2011, and its acquisition of MindSpark represents its entry into the U.S. market. According to a press release, Auticon has affiliates in Germany, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition, the company plans to expand to Canada and Australia.

“The acquisition of MindSpark supports Auticon expanding on its mission to bring awareness to neurodiversity while creating distinguished career opportunities for adults with autism,” Auticon CEO Kurt Schöffer said in the release. “We look forward to accelerating employment opportunities in tech and consulting for the exceptionally talented and skilled adults on the autism spectrum.”

Benoist Sr. said the acquisition will allow Santa Monica to host one of the most successful tech employers for people on the spectrum in the world. He said despite the staggering unemployment rate, people on the spectrum can be very valuable to businesses.

“And what they need is an opportunity to be able to show their skills,” he said. “And that’s what MindSpark does, and that’s what Auticon does. We create an environment, an environment with elements associated with accommodation for the individual that allows the individual to do their best.”

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