Temple Grandin: Don’t give up on children with autism

She’s not finished.

“Now, I’m seeing the bolts on the ground that they cut off the mailbox I have now. They moved the mailbox across the street, but the post office doesn’t have keys for them. I have to pick up my mail at the post office (in Fort Collins, Colorado), and now I see myself standing in line at the post office and the guy is going, ‘We don’t have the keys yet.’ It’s really stupid.”

Grandin has written more than a dozen books on autism. She is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and is known for developing corrals that relieve the stress on cattle being led to slaughter. More than half the cattle handled in the U.S. use Grandin’s invention.

Autism and cattle seem light years apart, but she was making a point.

“I was exposed to cattle as a teenager,” she said. “Students are interested in things they are exposed to; it’s that simple.

“I’m really concerned that our schools have taken out most of the programs that involve skills and trades — cooking, sewing, welding, woodworking, mechanics. We have a huge shortage right now of diesel mechanics, auto mechanics. And a lot of these kids with autism — say they have a minor speech delay, and they’re kind of quirky and nerdy and socially awkward — could do really well in these fields if they were exposed to them. Instead, many of them are shoved into a corner somewhere, and they are never able to flourish or find a career because about the only thing they are ever exposed to is video games.”

Autism, a complex neurodevelopment disorder that affects one in 88 children in the U.S., remains widely misunderstood, Grandin said.

“The reason is because it involves a wide spectrum of how much people are affected by it,” she said. “We are talking about Einstein, who had no language skills until he was 3 but was brilliant, to someone who has a severe intellectual impairment.

“In America, there is no distinction between levels of impairment. In America, there is no distinction between somebody who could work at NASA and somebody who can’t dress themselves. The international classification for autism, however, has levels of severity. I’m hoping that happens in America at the 2017 Classification of Diseases meeting.”

Grandin said the best advice she can give parents is this: “If you have a 3-year-old who isn’t talking, the worst possible thing you can do is do nothing. Too many parents go into denial. You have to work with your kid, get him the help he needs.

“My condition was severe when I was 3. My parents hired a speech therapist to work with me. I had a nanny who played ‘taking turns’ games with me. And I was mainstreamed into normal kindergarten.”

Grandin waited patiently Monday as parents and teachers from across the state stood in line to pick her brain.

Michele English, 38, of Laurel has a 19-year-old daughter with Asperger syndrome, which fits in the autism spectrum. Those diagnosed severely lack social and verbal skills.

“Each child is different,” English said. “What works for one doesn’t work for another. Dr. Grandin encouraged me to keep seeking help. If one doctor isn’t working, go to another. Just don’t give up, even if it means looking out of state. And I will. My daughter is my world.”

Shane Chandler, a speech pathologist, was one of six staff members of the Laurel city school district to attend the conference, including Maddox Elementary principal Ruby Lovett.

“We have a 6-year-old boy who is autistic,” Chandler said, “and we came here seeking ways to do anything possible to help him get on track. Our principal has already said on the drive back to Laurel we are going to talk about what we all learned from Dr. Grandin today and formulate a plan.”

Contact Billy Watkins at (769) 237-3079 or bwatkins@jackson. gannett.com. Follow @BillyWatkins11 on Twitter.

Source: The Clarion-Ledger

Measurable IEP goals that address Executive Functioning deficits

Another post by popular demand! If you are visiting here for the first time, make sure you check out my 500 SDIs post. That post took forever to do, but it is gets used so I’m happy that it was worth the effort. But as a result of that post, I have heard many times from readers and friends, “great! Now please do one for an IEP goal bank.” That to me is just such an overwhelming task, I can barely wrap my brain around it. I mean, if you think of all the kids, and all the special needs and challenges….and all the different goal possibilities. It would take months to list them all.

But, recently I was asked if I would come up with a list of IEP goals for Executive Functioning. That is a bit more manageable. It’s a small bite, so I decided to take it. Much like that giant SDIs post which gets revised often, I expect this one to do the same. As people find the post and read it, they will email me and leave me comments. I take those comments and add them to the post.

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