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NEW ORLEANS — In a presentation at the 2017 Psych Congress, Temple Grandin, PhD, professor of animal science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and a motivational speaker, drew from her life as someone with autism to emphasize the importance of empowering all children, especially those with autism spectrum disorder.
“Children need to be stretched,” Dr Grandin said, “but don’t throw them in the deep end. Give them choices and make them choices that take them outside the house and force them to interact with others. Show them the importance of studying and working as a path to a goal.” Dr Grandin expressed her disappointment at how many children are coddled by their parents, illustrated by the fact that many teenagers today do not even know how to use a garden hose.
“Take the thing the kid is good at, and build it,” she added. “Parents and teachers have to work together as a teamand need to teach values for a good life.”
Dr Grandin emphasized her concern that children who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum are protected by their parents and community and are not properly actualized. She mentioned that as a teen, she learned that results-oriented tasks appealed to her, and she took on jobs sewing, cleaning horse stalls, and working on a ranch.
Using a personal account of how she overcame a fear of flying by becoming fascinated by the construction of aircraft, Dr Grandin related ways to reach young people on the autism spectrum. She also emphasized the importance of desensitizing the sensation of touch in sensitive autistic children so that they will enjoy affection.
Dr Grandin explained the opportunities available to people with different thinking types, including those who are diagnosed with autism or dyslexia. People with music skills and mathematics thinkers can find employment as computer programmers, engineers, and chemists; verbal thinkers can find opportunities as translators or librarians, or in specialty retail; people with less verbal skills can find factory assembly work, shelve books, do lawn and garden work, or do inventory control.
“The more you get out and do, the more you know,” she said. “These kids have got to do tasks on a schedule, outside the home. They’ve got to have the goal to go out and do something before they graduate high school.”
Disclaimer: The investigators report the off-label use of oxcarbazepine and amantadine in this study.
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Grandin T. My path through life with autism. Presentation at: Psych Congress; September 16-19, 2017; New Orleans, LA.