“An Open Door” Dr. Temple Grandin by Tree King

After following Dr. Temple Grandin for many years, it was joyous to be in her presence! She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Women. Professor Grandin is one of the top 10 college professors in the country, and a New York Times bestselling author. Temple is currently a faculty member in animal sciences at Colorado State University. She is an American academic and animal behaviorist. Dr. Grandin is a consultant to the livestock industry, where she offers advice on animal behaviors.  Temple is one of the first autistic people to document the insights she gained from her personal experience of autism and has been an outspoken proponent of autism rights and neurodiversity movements.

Dr. Grandin and I had a fabulous conversation about autism and her latest documentary “An Open Door.” What she sees in children is phenomenal.  She wants every different thinker to get a great career. She says you must show them how to explore new things.  It’s hard to experience what the world has to offer if they are constantly on their cell phones or the computer all day. You don’t know if you like or hate it until you experience it.   Autistic children think differently. Some think in pictures – visual, like her, some in mathematical patterns – music mind and word thinkers. Some think in a combination of different patterns. Dr. Grandin is worried that a lot of visual thinkers who are poor with math (but can do basic arithmetic) are getting left behind. Why? Because they are taking on the job training out of the schools. (Cooking, wood shop, sewing, music, typing, etc.)

The best way to help an autistic child who’s not talking by the age of 3 needs early intervention. That’s a critical component, and parents need to start working right now! Temple says the worst thing you can do as a parent is wait. Education and speech therapy.  Basic life skills, eating with utensils, how to put their clothes on, and things like that. Playing games that teach kids how to take turns. It needs to be taught in a fun way so the kid likes it.

Often the diagnosis of autism is holding the child back because some parents do everything for them. Temple says parents need to stop sheltering them and underestimating what their autistic kids can accomplish. By the time they are teenagers, they haven’t learned any basic life skills. Dr. Grandin says there are teenagers fully verbal may be doing well in school and don’t know how to cook, do laundry, go shopping, or order food at a restaurant. There are jobs that they can do. By starting with a check list, putting things in order will help them stay focused. Next, learn how to see their work.

She really wants to emphasize to the business leaders that we need the skills of the diverse minds working in the world. There are so many jobs they can do. There are visual thinkers – we need them. They can do things AI can never replace. Verbal thinkers – learn facts about their favorite things.  Math/music mind – are computer programmers, chemistry, and auto mechanics. Word thinkers – Specialized knowledge helping one client at a time.  They do well in specialized retail, like selling new cars, sporting equipment, and business insurance. These kinds of jobs are very good for the verbal fact’s autistic learner autistic.

I asked her if she watched TV and if she liked “The Good Doctor.” She says “I’ve seen it and he (Dr. Sean Murphy) does a good job.” She loves to read.  During breakfast she enjoys Science and nature magazines, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

What an incredible documentary “An Open Door” – A must see.

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