Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State, was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. Instead of letting this diagnosis limit her, she called upon her individual strengths and talents to find success in her life, and she is encouraging others to do the same.
Grandin recently spoke at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she discussed her activism in connecting Autistic individuals with higher education or careers. Grandin stresses that everyone, including employers, should focus on the unique characteristics and strengths of each person with ASD, and not their perceived limitations. According to Grandin, “There is too much emphasis placed on the deficit, and not enough on the strength”, she continues, “I’m seeing a lot of [children] getting completely hung up on their Autism, caught up in a handicapped mentality”.
Autistic children often have the ability to process material visually, as well as the ability to have an incredible focus on subjects of their interest. “Kids on the spectrum tend to get fixated on the things they like,” Grandin states, “so you need to use those fixations to teach kids different subjects.” For example, if a child has a fixation on airplanes, the teacher should incorporate planes in the teaching matter for physics, engineering, math, or even history.
Lastly, Grandin stated that there should be a stronger focus on the transition from childhood to one’s teenage years. In order to prepare them for adulthood, children should be given responsibilities and tasks. A strong foundation needs to be made in order for the child to potentially handle the responsibilities of employment at an older age.
As today marks the start of National Autism Awareness Month, it is important to realize that Autistic individuals need guidance and support in order to accomplish their goals and find confidence in themselves. Mentors are an essential part of the learning process for Autistic children. They can challenge children to learn things out of their comfort zone, while providing the patience and support that the child needs.
As Autism Awareness month continues, ICare4Autism will be sharing inspiring stories, recent news, and significant research findings about Autism. Additionally, we will be highlighting several self-advocates, who despite their diagnosis, have showcased their strengths and incredible gifts. We will also be distinguishing the eye-opening truth from the misconceptions about Autism that are often talked about or misrepresented in pop culture. We are looking forward to using this month as an incredible opportunity to spread awareness about Autism!
The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing the Global Autism Workforce Initiative on June 30th in NYC. An esteemed roster of speakers will be discussing the importance of implementing programs that incorporate Autistic individuals in the workplace. For tickets, please click here.