How This Remarkable Lady Proved That Autism Is Not a Liability, but a Blessing to Society

The right parental guidance, community support, and social connections can transform autistic children’s lives

Mukundarajan V N
The Daily Cuppa Grande

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Credit: YouTube

Autistic children have gifts that remain untapped because their parents fail to discover them. Or rather, they fail to help their children help themselves.

This is not to judge the parents of children with autism or to find fault with them. They try to do their best to provide a good quality of life for their children. The problem is, they lack the awareness or the time to spend a lot more time with their children to find out their aptitudes and hidden talents. Some of them even don’t try to walk the extra mile because they fatalistically believe that they cannot help their children transcend the limitations of autism.

Professor Temple Grandin, 75, is an advocate for people with autism, a leading scientist, and the world’s leading expert on humane treatment of animals. Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Her most recent book is Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions.

Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism when she was three years old. The doctors wanted to institutionalise her, but her parents refused.

Her early life was hard. She faced severe bullying in school.

Grandin’s mother helped her discover her talents. She discovered that her daughter had a taste for art and encouraged her to draw pictures.

In an interview with Greater Good Magazine, she said parents should start speech therapy immediately if their child is not speaking at age 2. Or they should seek the help of grandmothers in the community to help out.

Grandin said people have different kinds of thinking. Some are visual thinkers, others are word thinkers, and some others are mathematical or spatial visual thinkers.

Many exhibit a mix of these thinking styles.

She said visual thinking helped her closely study animal behaviour, learn equipment design, and excel in photography.

The children need exposure to different things to enable them to find out what they are good at. She said,

“When the kids get a little older, we need to be looking more at what they can do. A lot of those that remain non-verbal have more skills than you think they might have. Build on the thing the kid is good at.But kids have to be exposed to things to find out what they might be good at…….And work on what they’re good at.”

She was exposed to the cattle industry, and she developed an interest in the humane treatment of livestock. Mr. Carlock, the science teacher, took a keen interest in her and helped her develop a love for science. He sowed the seeds of her future scientific career.

Jim Ool, a contractor, mentored her to start a business for equipment design.

Grandin said we should hang around with friends with similar interests.

Neurodivergent thinking is an asset, not a liability to society.

Professor Temple Grandin said, “If I could snap my fingers and be non-autistic, I would not. Autism is part of who I am.”

HBO made an Emmy Award-winning movie about her life, and she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

Temple Grandin proved that an autism diagnosis is not the end of the world but the beginning of a journey of self-discovery and self-actualisation, provided society provides them with an enabling and empowering environment.

Multiple stakeholders, like parents, educators, physicians, mentors, and social workers, should work together to help autistic children discover their talents and lead meaningful lives that move the wheel of progress.

Thanks for reading!

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Mukundarajan V N
The Daily Cuppa Grande

Retired banker living in India. Avid reader. I write to learn, inform and inspire. Believe in ethical living and sustainable development. vnmukund@gmail.com