I am going to totally nerd out for a moment. I got to see Temple Grandin speak. Temple in person. How amazing is that!!! She is so flipping amazing in my tiny little world. If you do not know who she is, google it! She has written numerous books, runs her own business’s, speaks all of the time, is highly successful, is a Professor at Colorado State University, and super intelligent person, who also happens to have Autism. Last year I read “Thinking in Pictures”. If you are SPED person, parent, or have ASD I highly recommend it. I grabbed a couple books and her movie today to. Yes, there is even a movie about her, it is called “Temple Grandin”. I will be watching it later tonight. She had very limited time to speak afterwards, so I didn’t get a chance to speak with her. However, if she happens to read this blog by some chance. Thank you for doing what you do!! If it wasn’t for you there wouldn’t be this understanding of Autism. It fills a huge gap in understanding what is going on in the minds of so many on the ASD. On, a personal note, it helped me to understand tremendously how the minds of my children work and how to reach them. For that, I am so ever much so grateful.
There is so much that was packed into about a hour and 15 minutes of time, that I will try to do my take away from the morning. First of all, Temple, is a kind, confident, veracious, fighter. Her presence fills the room as much as her strong voice does. She is straight forward and speaks her mind! Most of her talk was about her growing up and what educators and parents need to do to help their children to become functioning adults. Not to mention the fact of breaking down silos. What she means about that is the different types of ASD. Which I can relate to on a personal level. My girl, Cor, has high functioning autism. She can speak, work, and do what she needs to in life. Cor is what I call quirky. In reality that means she is your typical nerdy kid. She is super intelligent girl. While my son is classically autistic and non-verbal, which also happens to be the kind of autism that most people do not understand fully. He probably will never speak, but he may prove me wrong. He will need assistant living when he grows older. He may never be able to hold down a job. So, there are the differences between Jack and Cor, just within my own home. There needs to be a break in the ASD diagnoses. While it does fall under the umbrella of traits. Jack really needs a different type of help than my girl does. Temple talks about breaking down those barriers of understand of what autism is. Which I totally agree with. Cor will be a fully functioning adult with difficulties yes, but she will be able to function!! My job as her mom is to make sure we stretch her a bit. Which was the big take away from today’s talk.
Temple wrote a new book about what to do to help kids with high functioning autism succeed in life. I bought the book today, “The Loving Push”. I am going to be reading it when I can. Which I do believe will help me out with both my kiddos.
Something else she talked about that hit home with me as a parent, is not to identify with only being a Autism Parent. That it becomes the identity of many parents. Which there is this weird bond with other Autism Parents that I immediate relate to other parents out there with. I have made my online Mom’s friends who “get” it. Well, today she talked about being a parent first and pushing the kids out of the comfort zone just enough to stretch them. Teaching them how to be an adult from a young age. Giving the skill sets they will need to survive and not only identify yourself as an ASD parent, but to still have your own identity. Which is so needed. Which is part of the reason why, when I was forced in as a stay at home parent, I kept myself busy and went back to school. I got an education and now that Jack is older, he is doing better, I can get to work full time again and having a new career as an educator.
One of the other things that stuck with me is her talking about getting assistance to the 25% of the population that doesn’t have access to high end fancy early interventions and such. She was huge on making things to help build tools to ASD community to help as many ASD people as possible. The 25% has been my family. However, I do the best with what I have and do my best to learn as much as possible.
Temple was also adamant about keeping trade skills, music, art, sewing, woodworking, theater, auto shop, and creative writing in schools. These are the basic skills that kids need to find out what they are good at. Personally, I am huge proponent for this as well. My skills are in art and music. Not everyone learns the same way. Which is exactly what ASD is like as well. Each kid is so different and it takes time to find those skills which kids are good at.
Personally, it was great to hear her speak and learn more about the programs at UNT that are there. ACES is a program that is through the University that is committed to learning and researching ASD. Which I do not honestly know all that much about, other than what little I learned today. However, if you want to learn more about their programs here is a link to their site. https://autism.unt.edu/about-us/kristin-farmer
It was a fantastic day for me. My educator, mom, and personal mind was challenged to think differently today. To take a step back and look at the big picture of what ASD is. Where it needs to go as far as an education stand point as much as teaching my own children. Where to push my kids and students. How much to push them. Give them clear, explicit directions on how to do that as well. I am still excited!