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⭐️ Why actually expose autistic individuals to different things with Dr. Temple Grandin

Updated: Feb 20

One of Dr. Temple Grandin’s overriding approaches is to put an emphasis on what people can do, not on what they can’t.

“Kids have to be exposed to different things in order to develop. A child’s not going to find out he likes to play a musical instrument if you never exposed him to it.

"Even adults on the autism spectrum can develop new skills. It is never too late to start. We have got to work on keeping these children engaged with the world.”

“One of the biggest problems I’m seeing today is the need to learn work skills.

We’re focusing so much on academics that we’ve taken out things like art, sewing, cooking, woodworking, theatre, music, and other things that introduce kids to careers.

You want to build on the things that a kid is good at. I can’t stress enough the importance of good teachers."

“Skills need to be taught, like coaching an actor in a play.”

One of the most challenging things for Dr. Grandin was “understanding the social stuff”.

She revealed she did not know until middle age that people use eye signals as part of their communication.

“I didn’t even know that they existed,” she said.

“There is a tendency to overprotect these kids.”

Her own mother “knew just how much to stretch” her, she said,

“You got to stretch them just outside their comfort zone, (but without) sudden surprises.”

Instead of screaming “No!” if the kid takes sweets in a shop, Dr. Grandin advises giving an instruction, eg “Put the candy back, we are not buying those today”.

“Give the instruction. Don’t say no. You gotta stop saying no. Tell him what he should do. I call that ‘teachable moments’,” she said.

Sensory issues can often go hand-in-hand with an autism.

Temple said one child may have a sound-sensitivity issue, while another might have a problem with visual-sensitivity.

In the latter case, for example, when the child gets tired, an image will pixelate like a bad TV image, Temple said, adding there is brain scan research which shows that when children with sound-sensitivity issues hear certain loud noises, it activates the fear circuits in the brain.

As a way to empower and support autistic individuals with sensory issues, Temple says:

“you let them control how close they get to the noise and then sometimes you can gradually desensitise it. But you don’t force them into it”.

The above writing is extracted from an interview our founder Micheál O’Mathúna did with Dr. Temple Grandin.

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