Meeting Temple Grandin and National Autism Awareness Month

Lucky me! I got to meet and hear one of my favorite nonfiction authors, Temple Grandin. The meeting was at a preview of a new short documentary film called: Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds. PBS and Colorado State University teamed up to produce and air the film.

For me, the highlight of the evening was hearing Dr. Grandin answer questions from the audience about autism and her career. She is quite an engaging speaker!

If you are unaware of who Temple Grandin is, she is a person on the autism spectrum who earned her Ph.D. in animal sciences, has designed over half the cattle handling facilities in the United States, and has written several books on autism. In 2010, she was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. For me, personally, she has given me valuable insight into teaching students on the spectrum, especially in making me aware of sensory issues the students may be having.

Some of the key points/snippets Dr. Grandin emphasized for people on the spectrum are:

  • learn the discipline of work; start your child working around age 12 to develop good work ethics and habits (could be dog walking or mowing a lawn, etc.)–she is seeing way too many kids sitting around playing video games
  • teach manners: by the time she was eight she could: shop, order food, shake hands, and use good manners
  • look at what the person is good at and capitalize on that
  • stretch your kids to try new things (but avoid surprises)–it was after her mother made her go to visit her aunt on her ranch that she learned about cattle, etc. which led to her creating her deep pressure squeeze machine and set her on her future career path
  • we all have to learn to endure boring things sometimes to get us to our goals (not all of work is exciting!)
  • have your child join a club that he or she is interested in (e.g. computer club, chess club, etc.); this will give him or her common interests to discuss

Thank you so much to Dr. Temple Grandin! You are an inspiration!