Some Perspective from Temple Grandin

T Grandin
Temple Grandin, famed animal scientist (as well as professor, advocate and author as just some of her other titles) was recently interviewed by Macrina Cooper-White from the Huffington Post on a wide-range of topics – from success of those with autism, to myths, advice, etc. Ms. Grandin is always full of wonderful insights and perspective – and some of that is excerpted here from their conversation:

On how extracurricular activities can be helpful:

For some kids, regular high school works out really well because the kids get into things — they get into art, or a school play. Then those places serve as refuges. I think one of the worst things schools have done is taken out all of the stuff like art, music, woodworking, sewing, cooking, welding, auto-shop. All these things you can turn into careers. How can you get interested in these careers if you don’t try them on a little bit?

On advice for parents of children with autism:

For these kids with autism, I’m seeing them getting too coddled. I’ll go to an autism convention and a ten year old comes up to speak to me, and the mom does all the talking. I want to hear what the kid has to say. And I’ll say ‘Okay, let’s practice shaking hands,’ and he doesn’t know how to shake hands. Well that’s totally ridiculous. The other thing that I really emphasize is teaching work skills. My mother got me a sewing job when I was thirteen, and I was cleaning horse stalls when I was fifteen…

On commonly held myths about autism:

One is that all people are savants like “Rain Man.” That maybe is only 10 percent of people with autism. That is a myth. Probably half of the people in Silicon Valley have a little bit of autism.

On what she thinks should be the next step for autism research:

For some of the things, you can find out exactly where there’s a problem in the brain. But then there’s a point –- you know, people talk about curing autism -– if you got rid of all those traits, who’s going to make the next computer?

To see Temple’s full interview, click here.

Lynsey, Community Manager



Telling Your Child About Their Autism

What It Is To Be MeThere is a decision many parents tend to struggle with after learning their child is autistic – -which is, when and how do I tell my child they’re autistic? Writer Brenda Rothman touched on this very topic (here via Huff Post). She talks about the various “tactics” that people have recommended (ie…think it’s time to have “The Talk”). After thinking it through, she came to realize it wasn’t about sitting down and having this serious, big talk with her son about his autism – which could make it a negative thing, like something was wrong. Instead, she felt it could be done in trickles, which was more of a natural sharing of information – almost the opposite of “The Big Talk” tactic – making it no big deal. I like this way of thinking – because autism is part of who your child is, it should be a natural sharing of information, with an emphasis on what makes them special.

There are some books out there that are designed for autistic children to help them understand what their autism means, which can also be a good tool in talking with your child. A few include:

What It Is To Be Me!

Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes

Asperger’s: What Does It Mean to Me?

But there are many different thoughts and ideas on this one, so we’d like to hear from you (as I’m sure other parents seeking this kind of information do too). How have you told (or how are you planning to tell) your child about their autism?

First to share her insights is our own Jen Westphal, who said:

A few of the most important aspects of The Son-Rise Program is the three E’s – eye contact, energy and enthusiasm – and their teachings of acceptance.  Once we realized what a gift Kyle’s autism was (because we did NOT believe this before Son-Rise), we enthusiastically set out to help Kyle appreciate that his autism was an important part of him!  Some days were better than others, for sure, but today, at 20 years of age, Kyle understands himself sometimes better than most “typical” people I know!  Kyle’s courage to jump over one hurdle after another, fall down 7 times, get up 8, and embrace his autism makes him a hero in the eyes of so many who know him.

Lynsey, Community Manager