Tag Archives: Temple Grandin

Question?: Autistic Definition

Carol asks…

How can i help my 2 year old autistic cousin?


I just heard from my aunt that my 2 year old cousin was diagnosed today with autism. I did some research online, and didn’t really find the answer to what I’m looking for. My question is for the ones who’s had experience with autism how can I help? Unfortunately she lives in another country, but I want to help anyway I can.

Thank you for your help.

admin answers:

Hi, I’m a 36 year-old male diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome 5 years ago (unexpectedly) with an autistic older sister and an autistic nephew. I’m not sure if your cousin is male or female, so I’ll just use “him.”

Windy was unable to recall the name of Temple Grandin, just to get that out of the way.

Sensory issues are a very important thing to understand, and yes, it varies from person to person: I have almost no sense of smell (anything I’ve detected with my nose, I hate, so that may be a good thing most of the time) I’m light-sensitive, and very sensitive to many types of noises and frequencies, far beyond “normal” and also tactile sensory issues, where certain things against my skin can cause nasty sensations, from a horrible chill (velvet, at least when rubbed a certain way when younger) to nausea (sunscreen) to also being unable to sense my body’s movements very well (proprioceptive senses are whacked) and having a heck of a time with the coordination, as a result, including that of speech (spent several years in speech therapy, but things degrade a lot during sensory overload [a term you should look up] so it’s much harder to understand me) and then there’s tastes that I react to violently (toothpastes of many types make me gag/vomit strongly, can’t help it much) so that causes a few practical issues.

1. So, first, try to decipher what the sensory issues are.
2. Don’t punish him for his reality of sensory overload: figure out a way to help him recover from it.
3. Frustration/strong feelings can also add to sensory overload: help him figure out how to communicate, in whatever way he can. It’s entirely possible that speech may be outside his ready grasp due to sensory issues (I have a hard time making sense of speech at times, and it’s worse with sensory overload) and keep in mind, being non-verbal does NOT mean lacking intelligence, it just means not being able to process things well.
4. Teach him proper survival skills like everyone else, as feasible for his level of ability.
5. Work with him for developing coordination and training muscle memory: this is something that tends to be very difficult for those on the autistic spectrum: expect that it’s probable what you consider to be a simple mechanical thing to do will take him a lot longer to master. As an example, I started working with computer keyboards and typing on them on a regular basis at a young age, never had a formal typing class (special education department had other plans, and they clearly could never conceive of me programming computers for a living) and it took me 14 years to go from hunt-and-peck-while-looking to doing touch-typing sustainable over 40 wpm (people watching me have said they’ve seen me do bursts in excess of 80 wpm). For me, handwriting is an nightmare, so I’m very thankful for computers being available. I’m also a little dyslexic, too… Also, involve him in as many larger muscle group physical activities as possible: you can’t build balance and coordination from watching on the sidelines, and it’s especially true with us.
6. There’s something called “executive dysfunction” which also affects motor skills planning, and it helps if you can master the art of writing down plans and figuring out the smaller steps, and just master the art of organizing things.

7. Keep him away from such terrible sites and groups as “Defeat Autism Now,” “Cure Autism Now” and “Autism Speaks” because they only have the goal of eradicating autistics off the face of the earth by any means necessary in a politically-correct sheep’s clothing format. They see autism as a disease and an epidemic, spout horrible things, etc. And don’t do anything good towards those that are actually autistic: their definition of success is an autistic that acts as a neurotypical person, never mind that the autistic person can’t function properly that way, it’s stressful, and bad for self-esteem to live that lie. Ask yourself: would you want any group speaking for you and insisting on you doing things, if you yourself (part of the group they presume to speak for) would never be allowed into their leadership? There’s a reason they don’t want that: they’re afraid of it, and for good reason. Whenever anything of a “Therapy” or “Treatment” is proposed, consider if you’d want it done to you, if you had a choice. Many autistics are forced into such things that they’d never agree to as an adult. Speech therapy and Occupational therapy are good ones: ABA is often a horrible thing, and wouldn’t be allowed on normal kids because it’d be considered cruel.

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Question?: Pdd Symptoms

Chris asks…

Do you have or have you known someone who has Autism?

I have the disorder known as Atypical Autism. The symptoms that I notice the most in myself are that I seem to lack the ability to empathize with others and I am on the negative end of the spectrum when it comes to socializing.

If you have autism, what parts of it effect you the most…
What part of Autism do you find to be the most debilitating..

admin answers:

Atypical autism is another name for PDD-NOS or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. I have high functioning autism, and I am a sophomore in college majoring in microbiology and neurobiology. What effects me the most is reading social cues and sensory sensitivity. I can’t easily detect whether or not a person is being sincere or sarcastic and I have been taken advantage of because of that. I also have extreme sensitivity to sound. I cannot focus if someone is tapping, I process all sounds at once and cannot ignore any of it. It can lead to a meltdown occasionally. For that reason I have accommodations that allow me to take exams in quiet rooms with white noise headphones. I love pressure and use the squeeze machine invented by Temple Grandin a lot. If you haven’t tried it, you have to. It is Ecstasy to feel the squeeze and it calms me down a lot. For some reason my parents didn’t tell me about my autism until I was 16. I wish they would have done so earlier, up until then. I just assumed I was a bad person. Now I use my insight on autism to improve standards at an autistic school I work at part time

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Question?: Autism Symptoms Toddler Boys

John asks…

Could my 2 yr old son have autism?

I have a 2 yr old boy an he doesent talk yet, well nothing pastt mama baba. He throws servere tantrems sometimes I dont even know why he is so upset. he loves to run and seems completly absessed with cars but thats really all he plays with he shows little intrest in other toys. when he watches tv its like he gets sucked into it and cant take his gaze off. Most of the time when i speak to him he aks like he cant hear me and continues what he is doing and if i interupt him he starts screamng. I have never seen any other children his age throw tantrums as often and the way he does, he will throw hisself on the floor an sometimes he hurts hisself doing this. He had a really bad fibril sezure when he was one and has had 2 very small ones since. but i am really getting concerned because of his behavior and speech problems.
Yes my son has had his hearing tested. i also read that many autistic kids have servere allergies and bowel problems. my son is allerigic to milk products. and was also diagnosed with the childhood form of irritable bowel. as far as communication, well evey morning when we get up i have to pick him up so he can look to see what he wants then he either points or grabs what he wants. he turned two on june2 i dont plan on having him tested untill he is at least 3. i dont want to jump to conclushions. but alot of friends and family have sudgested i have him checked for autism

admin answers:


Autism is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than one single symptom. The main characteristics are impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. Other aspects, such as atypical eating, are also common but are not essential for diagnosis.[19]

[edit] Social development

Autistic people have social impairments and often lack the intuition about others that many people take for granted. Noted autistic Temple Grandin described her inability to understand the social communication of neurotypicals as leaving her feeling “like an anthropologist on Mars”.[20]

Social impairments become apparent early in childhood and continue through adulthood. Autistic infants show less attention to social stimuli, smile and look at others less often, and respond less to their own name. Autistic toddlers have more striking social deviance; for example, they have less eye contact and anticipatory postures and are less likely to use another person’s hand or body as a tool.[18] Three- to five-year-old autistic children are less likely to exhibit social understanding, approach others spontaneously, imitate and respond to emotions, communicate nonverbally, and take turns with others. However, they do form attachments to their primary caregivers.[21] They display moderately less attachment security than usual, although this feature disappears in children with higher mental development or less severe ASD.[22] Older children and adults with ASD perform worse on tests of face and emotion recognition.[23]

Contrary to common belief, autistic children do not prefer to be alone. Making and maintaining friendships often proves to be difficult for those with autism. For them, the quality of friendships, not the number of friends, predicts how lonely they are.[24]

There are many anecdotal reports, but few systematic studies, of aggression and violence in individuals with ASD. The limited data suggest that in children with mental retardation, autism is associated with aggression, destruction of property, and tantrums. Dominick et al. Interviewed the parents of 67 children with ASD and reported that about two-thirds of the children had periods of severe tantrums and about one third had a history of aggression, with tantrums significantly more common than in children with a history of language impairment.[25]

[edit] Communication

About a third to a half of individuals with autism do not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs.[26] Differences in communication may be present from the first year of life, and may include delayed onset of babbling, unusual gestures, diminished responsiveness, and the desynchronization of vocal patterns with the caregiver. In the second and third years, autistic children have less frequent and less diverse babbling, consonants, words, and word combinations; their gestures are less often integrated with words. Autistic children are less likely to make requests or share experiences, and are more likely to simply repeat others’ words (echolalia)[17][27] or reverse pronouns.[28] Autistic children may have difficulty with imaginative play and with developing symbols into language.[17][27] They are more likely to have problems understanding pointing; for example, they may look at a pointing hand instead of the pointed-at object.[18][27]

In a pair of studies, high-functioning autistic children aged 8–15 performed equally well, and adults better than individually matched controls at basic language tasks involving vocabulary and spelling. Both autistic groups performed worse than controls at complex language tasks such as figurative language, comprehension and inference. As people are often sized up initially from their basic language skills, these studies suggest that people speaking to autistic individuals are more likely to overestimate what their audience comprehends

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Question?: Autistic

James asks…

What parents can do to help their autistic child?

I am doing a project on autistic children. I was wondering if people had their own opinions or if you know any helpful websites. Thank you.

admin answers:

1. If you can, talk to people who have (Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) High-Functioning Autism (HFA) for suggestions on how to help an Autistic child.

2. Read books written by Temple Grandin, Ph.D who is Autistic.

3. Read books written by Donna Williams who is Autistic.

4. Visit these websites.

Autism Society of America (ASAF)

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome In Adults

Mary asks…

What are the best career options for people with Asperger’s syndrome?

Asperger‘s syndrome is a high functioning austism.

admin answers:

There is a great book about this topic that I highly recommend:
“Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism” by Temple Grandin, Kate Duffy, and Tony Attwood. It not only has career ideas and descriptions, but includes strategies to use to make the workplace more comfortable for a person with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism.

Temple Grandin also briefly discusses this topic in this article: “Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism” – http://www.autism.org/temple/tips.html

Other favorite resources include:


“Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Notbohm – http://www.southflorida.com/sfparenting/sfe-sfp-autism,0,6196233.story

Website of Paula Kluth, Ph.D. – http://www.paulakluth.com/autism.html

Positively Autism (free online magazine, includes free lessons/activities) – http://www.positivelyautism.com


“Your Life is Not a Label: A Guide to Living Fully with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome” by Jerry Newport

“You’re Going to Love This Kid!: Teaching Students With Autism in the Inclusive Classroom” By Paula Kluth

“Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism” By Paul Collins

Any book by Temple Grandin

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Question?: Autism Signs In Infants

Chris asks…

what is the difference between aspergers and high functioning autism?

i have aspergers and i was wondering whats the difference between aspergers and high functioning autism?

bq: is aspergers considered a rara disorder?
i meant rare disorder

admin answers:

Both Asperger Syndrome & High Functioning Autism are pretty similar in terms of the traits and features that are present, but the clear main difference is that individuals with HFA had a significant delay in their language development, whereas on the other hand people with Asperger’s Syndrome usually do not, many individuals with AS will have developed speech from aged 2 onwards, although some actually begin to speak even before a developmentally typical infant, and most of them will meet some or full criteria for a Non-Verbal Learning Disorder.

According to my childhood developmental history, I had a mild speech delay as I didn’t acquire language until I just turned 2 years old, it was echolalic and this completely diminished a few months before I was aged 4 years, therefore some young children with AS like myself at the time may receive a diagnosis of a speech & language disorder.

Those with “High Functioning Autism” generally develop their first words from the age of 4 or 5 years old, which is classified as “clinically significant language delay”, likewise most may have displayed temporary signs of Classical (Severe) Autism in early childhood, HFA is far less common than AS.

“Smart Kat’s” statement of Temple Grandin being a “High Functioning Autistic” rather than someone with AS is absolutely correct, as she indeed had clinically significant delays” in acquiring language in childhood.

Some scientific studies state that in terms of intellectual abilities; individuals with AS generally demonstrate Verbal IQ’s (VIQ) significantly greater than their Performance IQ (PIQ), this is typically the reverse in HFA, but this is not always true as it’s clearly possible for the opposite pattern to occur, for instance someone with AS can have a significantly higher PIQ than their VIQ, likewise a High Functioning Autistic can demonstrate far more verbal abilities than their performance ones.

Other than these statistics there is no there is hardly any guarantee on how both of these conditions can be distinct from each other.

The prevalence of Asperger Syndrome like Cicely said is approximately 1 in 250.

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Question?: What Is Autism

Carol asks…

What is the difference between aspergers and high functioning autism?

I have high-functioning autism and i am in top set of year 8. However i also have a passion for maths, does this mean i have aspergers. sorry i have a very basic understanding.

admin answers:

Both Aspergers and Autistic Disorder are both Autism Spectrum Disorders. The difference between the two however is when spoken language developed. If it developed significantly later than it should have (e.g. No first word by 15-18 months, no two-word combinations by 24 months), then the diagnosis would be Autistic Disorder. If langauge developed normally, it would be Aspergers.

Even those who are diagnosed with Autistic Disorder can go on to develop language just a few years later. My daughter’s development lagged behind by a year or so, but others have been non-verbal until much later (e.g. Temple Grandin has Autistic Disorder and was non-verbal until 4 years old, I know someone who was non-verbal to 7 years old) but as they get older catch up and have normal language.

High functioning means how well they function in the world – there are those who have a classic autism diagnosis who can function as well as an asperger’s person and can look after themselves fairly well, and are considered “high functioning”. Someone who is non verbal or strugles to with daily living severely (and could never live on their own) is considered low functioning.

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Question?: What Is Autism Video

David asks…

How do you teach students what autism is?

It’s for an A.P. Psychology project. I have to teach the class for 22 minutes and the topic I chose is autism. I was thinking about lecturing, but I can only lecture for so long and don’t think I could for 22 whole minutes. Any ideas?

admin answers:

Do Not show Rain Man. The man, Kim Peek, that character was based on did not have autism. Every autistic person is different and interacts with the world in many different ways. If you have met one autistic child you have met one autistic child. If you want to highlight a real autistic person my suggestion is Temple Grandin. She just made the May 2010 Time magazine top 100 List in Heroes.

Here is an excellent video of Temple presenting at TED

HBO also did a movie about Temple

She is amazing. Autism is a social and communication disorder and the more people who understand that the better.

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Special needs parenting: is it time to brush up on your child’s disability?

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, it’s likely that you researched your child’s disability exhaustively during the early diagnosis stage.

Then you got busy, and tired, but now you are thinking it might be a good time learn about resources get caught up on the latest research and treatment. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are in luck. In the next few months there are countless opportunities to learn from renowned disability experts:


Living with Disabilities: A Family Conference and Resource Fair

Sunday, October 28

Lamorinda Family Center
Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church
49 Knox Drive
Lafayette, CA 94549

Pediatrician and autism expert Dr. Ricki Robinson is Keynote speaker and will discuss treatment approaches for individuals with developmental disabilities through their life.  She is the author of Autism Solutions: How to Create a Healthy & Meaningful Life for Your Child and has been in private practice for over 30 years, specializing in children with developmental delays.

Take part in a fun and informative resource fair that will include interactive booths with:

Dr. Clarissa Kripke (UCSF), Developmental Pediatrician
Dr. Deborah Sedberry, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician
Nan Arkwright, Occupational Therapist
Dr. Megan Flom, Psychology, Assessment, School Advocacy
Shannon Des Roches Rosa, iPad for Autism Expert

To learn more and to register CLICK HERE


The Marin Autism Lecture Series

The first Lecture was this past week, but there are several more left through May.


Peninsula and South Bay Autism Lecture Series

Morgan Autism Center Lecture Series

The Morgan Autism Conference was Saturday, September 22 and it was awesome, but register for the lecture series by clicking the link above.

Future Horizons Autism and Aspergers Conference featuring Temple Grandin



The UC Davis MIND Institute’s Distinguished Lecturer Series is now in its 11th season of public lectures by nationally and internationally-recognized researchers in neurodevelopmental disorders.  These monthly presentations (October 2012 – June 2013) are intended for both specialists and community members.  All lectures are  *free and open to the public* and no reservations are necessary.


Support for Families of Children with Disabilities has ongoing lectures, clinics, support groups and workshops. Check them out.

That is all for now. I’m sure I am missing something, and I count on YOU to let me know. But do yourself a favor and pledge to go to at least one of these amazing events. Lets face it, being the parent of a child with a disability can be isolating and these events will not only educate and inspire you, but you will have a chance to connect with parents just like you. I’ve made some of my dearest friends this way.


Do you have questions? Contact me HERE and I will do my very best to help.


Read the first three chapters of my book HERE.

You’ll be hooked.

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speed blogging


Ready …

Set  …


I have nine minutes.


But I really, really want to tell you something.

So I’m going to give it my best shot.

In nine minutes.


Make that eight and half.

OK, here goes …

The deficit model of education sucks.

The idea of focusing on what we – or our kiddos – can’t do.

It sucks.

Because there’s so very much that they CAN do.

And so often what they CAN do gets overshadowed, particularly in the classroom, by what they CAN’T do.

And we spend so much time trying to bolster their weaknesses, help them overcome their challenges, bring them up to speed in the areas in which they tend to fall behind, that we have none left to foster their talents, support exploration in their areas of interests, feed and water whatever it is in them that, with just a little sunlight and love and encouragement, might just blossom into something incredible.

Temple Grandin said it in this fabulous article on educating kids with autism a little while ago –

In my case, I was really good at art, but doing algebra made no sense. It is important to work on areas where a child is weak, but an emphasis on deficits should not get to the point where building the area of strength gets neglected.

Kids with autism often get fixated on one thing, and it is important to expand their fixations.

I heard about sad cases where a teacher forbids an elementary school child to draw pictures. If a teacher had stifled my art ability, I would have never become a designer of livestock equipment. Half the cattle in North America are handled in equipment I have designed for the meat plants. I think that this is a real accomplishment for a child that some people thought was mentally retarded.

Damn it, I have two more minutes.



OK, I’ll cut to the chase.

This time of year we spend a lot of time talking about our kids’ challenges. Team meetings, listening conferences, IEP reviews – they’re chock-full of discussion of what our kid’s can’t do. Where they struggle. Where they are behind their peers.

There needs to be more talk in those meetings about what they CAN do.

About what they are amazing at. Or what matters to them. Or what they seem to enjoy. Or what they could be amazing at someday with some help.

My kid struggles in math. And reading. And a whole lot of other stuff.

But …

She taught herself Spanish.

By watching her Nick Jr shows on Univision on Demand, she taught herself Spanish.

Dora, Blue – they’re never in English anymore.

Like seriously, the kid is speaking Spanish.

She walked out of her flip-flop the other day and shouted, “Esperate! Mi zapato!”

You know what we talked about in her parent-teacher meeting yesterday?


French, Spanish, American Sign.

Her teacher speaks Greek. We asked if she’d teach her some.

She taught herself Spanish, people.

The kid who struggled so desperately to communicate – who had NO novel language for YEARS taught herself Spanish.

KInda ironic, ain’t it?

Yesterday, Landon Bryce reposted a really thought-provoking post entitled, Would the World Be a Better Place If Everyone were Like You? The post is worth reading for a lot of reasons, but the one that happened to strike me the most yesterday was this:

But once we have a complex society, we also have different roles that we need people to play.  We need people to be policemen.  We need people to be kindergarten teachers.  A good kindergarten teacher does not need to be able to be a cop in order to have value.

Yes, there are things our kids can’t do. Lots of them. There are also things that we can’t do. Lots of those too. But if we spend all of our time talking about what they can’t do, what happens to their self-esteem? Their sense of self-worth? And not for nuthin’, but what happens to what they *could* do?

Oh dear God, I forgot about the time.

Two minutes just became twelve and I seriously have to go. So much for washing my hair. I know. Ick.

I’ll leave you with the words of the immortal Albert Einstein.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”


Baseball caps are in, right?

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