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Temple Grandin on Encouraging Kids With Autism

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Thirteen/WNET, the flagship public television station in New York, has recently published an article on Temple Grandin, a well-known autism advocate. Grandin, who has Asperger's syndrome, talks about what she believes schools can do to better educate children like her.

Autism is a disorder characterized by repetitive behavior and impaired social interaction and communication; Asperger's syndrome is a milder form. Grandin became well-known when she was featured in Oliver Sacks' book An Anthropologist on Mars. Grandin has also written her own book, Thinking In Pictures.

An excerpt::

“Teachers tend to focus on the disability,” Grandin said. Ironically, the autism diagnosis which forms a basis for special attention and assistance may further distance the autistic child from his or peer group and create more isolation and alienation...

...She is concerned today that the American education system often works to the disadvantage of children with mild forms of autism, in ways that are not at all obvious.

For example, according to Grandin, requiring children to wear uniforms would benefit autistic children, who invariably dress out of fashion and are ridiculed by other kids. She’s observed first-hand that even in poorer countries, such as the Philippines, the uniform requirement really helps autistic kids.

Edited: a reader contacted me to say that Grandin does not have Asperger's syndrome, but autism. Though the WNET piece says that she has Asperger's, this synopsis of another of Grandin's books--Emergence:Labeled Autistic--leads me to believe autism is the characterization Grandin uses for herself.

12 Comments

I am often around children who I see as autistic but the parents and at times the children are not ready for the label, no easy tasks for any professional and guess the label will not chnage the child, but understanding makes a a huge difference, especially to the child and often the relationship they have with the parents, teachers, school etc...sadly I see time and time again partners working along with the school wanting to change, get there children to conform without really understanding them, just leads to boredom, frustration and anger long term and often a lot of unnecessary pain on the child's part, I wish more parents would get down on the child's level and truly see through there eyes....

Even if the child is diagnosed often lack of real support, often school they say they understand but seem to go out of there way to get the children to fit and conform rather than embracing the these individuals...

I just didn't have a clue whatsoever growing up! I just wondered why other people my age just 'clicked' and the fact it didn't with me made me want to give up, except I did not give up, I just became more desperate and reached out to all the wrong people.

I had to learn to adapt and change had no idea why I never fitted in and guess we do with age, but that has not changed the real me, understanding and awareness and having other like minded people to talk to has helped me the most and having the confidence to find myself again.

At times feel I should of been an actor as have learned to fit in and play the part almost too well, but it is often an act and takes an effort. And with each conversation within the ASD world with other aspies (people with aspergers), as I am able to understand everything they say, think, do I feel normal... but only I guess really in aspergers terms!
[Aspergers Parallel Planet - asplanet.info]

More and more of our children are being diagnosed with Autism and many educators and parents do not know how to make connections with our kids.

To help educators, Temple Grandin, Ph.D, and Lisa Goring, Director of Family Services of Autism Speaks will address over 8,000 educators at the Celebration of Teaching & Learning, the nation’s premier forum for professional development of K-12 educators hosted by Channel Thirteen. Educators should really be encouraged to attend this year’s event to learn how to develop strengths and abilities of students living with Autism.

There are alot of childrenwith mild autism that are very high functioning academicly. I know one 7 yr old boy who has mild autism but he reads and does math and his other school work just as well if not better that his classmates, but because the teachers don't want to deal with him they recommended that he be placed in a setting with other children like himself. The mother thinking that this was a better environment for the child. An environment where he would get the required services he needed with teachers that were more capable of dealing with him because of the mild autism jumped to the opportunity, only to find out that her son was placed in a setting with children all with severe autism, none of thwm self sufficent like her son. She could not leave her son there so she took him out and tried in vain to get the board of ed and the present as wel as the former school to get him in the proper setting. The Board of Ed just passed off the responsibility to the school and the school who acts like they don't care one way or the other is dragging their feet. Only because Children Services got involved the school is trying to offer something but states that they are not sure if this setting is right for the child either.

wHAT IS A SINGLE MOTHER SUPPOSED TO DO ESPECIALLY WITHOUT THE FINANCIAL BACKING.

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