Last night I had the incredible privilege of attending a lecture by Temple Grandin.
Temple Grandin is an amazing American woman who has autism. She is a successful scientist and advocate for animal rights, and she is an author who was written multiple books on animal welfare and autism and aspergers. She wrote “Thinking in Pictures” to describe how her own thought patterns work, something that is demonstrated in the movie about her life where she is portrayed by Claire Danes. Temple said that the HBO movie did an excellent job of portraying her thought patterns and that Claire Danes didn’t just act but transformed herself into Temple Grandin. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will be finding it this week.
At the lecture, Temple discussed methods for helping people within the autism spectrum be successful. From early diagnosis to teaching methods and medication, she gave a candid talk about her personal beliefs and scientific standings on each topic. She shared her personal experiences with autism and the experiences of other people in the spectrum. One thing that struck me was a statement Temple made about parenting children with autism, aspergers, ADHD, etc. She said that we focus so much on changing their social behaviours when we need to be focuses on their talents, because when someone has a talent, the world will excuse their differences. I know this to be true, but hadn’t pieced it together that simply before.
This was demonstrated by some of the other guests at this seminar. The MC for the evening was a young man with OCD, tourettes and aspergers. He was entertaining and fun, and he rolled with the punches when things didn’t go exactly as planned.
A young woman with autism performed with her mother while they sang their signature song “Possibilities” and a few others. I know this young woman personally and I was so excited to see her on stage. She sang beautifully and showed that life really is full of possibilities. They released a CD a few years ago, and a new one is expected soon.
A young man with autism, who is in his third year of University, got up to speak about taking risks and accomplishments. He was charming and funny, although he was surprised at his own charm and showed interest and shock when everyone laughed during his speech, lol. He spoke about the challenging papers he was written and assignments he has completed, mingled in with the public outbursts and panic attacts he experiences. He is a budding author that I’m sure to hear about again. He was inspirational and I’m sure his accomplishments can be attributed somewhat to the large and supportive family who sat in the audience.
We watched a video about an amazing young artist with autism, who was present but unable to manage the large crowd (around 1000 people were present!) and did not come on stage. She is an accomplished artist whose pieces give a glimpse into her mind and soul. The video was amazing and I hope it someday plays on her website. She is another perfect example of developing the talents to help her succeed.
Overall, it was an amazing evening and I walked away with many ideas to help my son with ADHD succeed, and with ways to work with the autistic people I support in my job. If you ever have a chance to see Temple Grandin speak, I highly recommend it. If you can’t see her speak, you could always read her books. “Developing Talents” is at the top of my reading list right now.