I had the privilege of attending a presentation by Dr. Temple Grandin this weekend. Dr. Grandin is an incredible woman that is internationally known for her work with Livestock Behavior; Design of Facilities and Humane Slaughter. But the most amazing thing about Dr. Grandin is that she has autism. And her gift to the families that I work with is that she gives us an insight as to how a person with an autism diagnosis thinks, learns, and feels. She also has fantastic suggestions and strategies for parents and educators on how to help children with autism succeed in life. I would suggest that you check out her website at http://templegrandin.com. I also would recommend that you see the HBO movie that was created about her life, it really gives you a wonderful insight into the world of a person with autism and how they can make their way, often times, very successfully in this world.
Dr. Grandin is funny, outspoken, passionate, very, very intelligent and an inspiration to all.
What she says that inspires me is her information that
1. Young children with autism need to be engaged 20 hours a week in turn taking activities and joining in with the world around them
2. These 20 hours do not need to be with a "therapist or specialist" but can be just as effective with a parent, grandparent; sibling; babysitter etc. She says that it is important that a specialist coach the family as to what strategies work well for their child and help them be successful.
3. The family should build activities around what the child likes. If a child is obsessed with trains, then use that interest to ease them into learning more based on trains. Start with what they like and are passionate about.
4. Understand what sensory integration is and respect that certain sensory stimulation is painful to the child and will interfere with learning and possibly eating, sleeping and social situations.
5. The family needs to help the child learn social rules so that they are able to function in the world. The children need to learn how to give other people what they want.
6. Use simple and clear directions with the child and use a neutral voice. Don't be demeaning but always respectful.
My favorite quotes of hers were: "Do not try to de-geek the geek". "Let's accept that there are different kinds of minds". "Eccentric is acceptable; being dirty and rude is not."
If you ever have a chance to attend one of her presentations, do it!! It will make a difference in your life.