The Amazing Mind of Autism Advocate Temple Grandin

 

Why Smart Humans Do Stupid Things

Humans, I’ve noticed, make a very big deal out of a quality you call intelligence. You not only take pride in it as a species, you also devise all manner of tests in an effort to sort and rank and categorize people by intelligence.

Look at how confused you were during the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant a couple of years ago. The people who designed the plant probably had high scores on tests of IQ and math skills. And then they put the backup power generator in a basement where it was going to be useless in a flood—just when they would need it most. And all the humans shook their heads and asked, how can smart people be so stupid?

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Stumbling Blocks For The Autistic

If algebra had been a required course for college graduation in 1967, there would be no Temple Grandin. At least, no Temple Grandin as the world knows her today: professor, inventor, best-selling author and rock star in the seemingly divergent fields of animal science and autism education.

"I probably would have been a handyman, fixing toilets at some apartment building somewhere," said Grandin, 66. "I can't do algebra. It makes no sense. Why does algebra have to be the gateway to all the other mathematics?"

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Temple Grandin Interview with Rick Kleffel

Beyond reading ‘The Autistic Brain,’ I knew that there was some sort of preparation I should do before I talked to author Temple Grandin. Watch the HBO movie, I was told. I could have gone to YouTube and looked her up. I decided to meet her first in person, and let the conversation play out as it would.

Temple Grandin is an imposing and intense presence, who immediately asked me if I liked the book, and why. I told her I enjoyed both the science and the scientist-who-loves “science-enough-to-experiment-on-herself aspect” and she wanted to know more. Readers can quickly see why she and I got on so well. Her inquisitive mind on the page carries over into her life, with a passion.

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You've Got To Stretch These Kids!

At four years of age, Temple Grandin wasn't talking at all. Her father thought she should be institutionalized, but her mother refused, coaxing speech from her daughter and later setting her up with odd jobs so she would learn work skills despite her extreme anxieties. At the time, there was no diagnosis.

More than six decades later, Grandin has become one of the nation's foremost authorities on animal welfare, and our pre-eminent advocate for people with autism. As someone operating on the very high end of the autistic spectrum, Grandin, 65, has become a sort of ambassador to what she calls the neurotypical world.

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Autistic Author Sees The Disorder's Positive Side

In this amazing article author and educator, Temple Grandin, sees the advantages that she and others with autism bring to the table.

Temple Grandin is anything but neurotypical. She has eight brain scans to prove it. Her cerebellum, which controls motor coordination, is 20% smaller than that of the neurotypical brain. The left side of her brain is so long it has pinched down the region that handles short-term memory. No wonder she can't follow several steps of written directions, or pass algebra.

Her visual circuitry extends well beyond where neurotypicals' circuitry stops. Grandin is wired for long-term visual memory. She is sure that one day, autism will be explained by neurobiology. Her new book, "The Autistic Brain," outlines that quest.

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Raj Mathai Sits Down With Temple Grandin

 

Autism Does Not Define Me

I live in two worlds. I am a scientist and college professor first and a person with autism second.

One day I am visiting the engineering campus of a university, and the next day I am at an autism conference. What I have learned from this is that many technical and creative people are often undiagnosed autism spectrum, Asperger, dyslexia, or have learning problems. Many of these successful individuals are aged 40 and older. They are in good jobs, and they have succeeded because their sense of identity is as a statistician, artist, computer programmer, musician, engineer or journalist.

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Advice To Parents Autistic Children

“When you got a young child that is not talking, the worst thing you could do is nothing,” said Grandin.  “What you need to do is get some grandmothers, get some students to work with this child, because nothing is the worst thing you could do.  Teach them how to play board games taking turns, teach them words, take them out on nature walks, just interact with them.”

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What Autistic People Do To Feel Calmer

There is a slang word that people in the autism community use to describe the noises and movements they sometimes make to feel calmer. That word is "stimming" and it's short for the medical term self-stimulatory behaviours - a real mouthful.

Stimming might be rocking, head banging, repeatedly feeling textures or squealing. You'll probably have seen this in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but not really wanted to ask about it. There are many reasons why people with Autism stim but world-renowned animal behaviourist Temple Grandin says most people stim simply because it feels good.

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