Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - April 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 46 n Hudson Valley Parent 33 society. Dr. Grandin suggests there is a huge spectrum of autism diagnoses, but regardless of the labels, which are not precise, we need to place more emphasis on the strengths and talents a person with autism may possess than the label itself. "We are too hung up on labels," she says. "We concentrate too much on someone's deficits and need to refocus and work with individual strengths." She stresses the importance of early intervention programs for younger children and the need for older children to be redirected, chal- lenged and motivated. "Go with what you're good at," she advised the crowd. "Don't be afraid to go on a job interview and to show people your work." The inspiration Heather Rajnert is a long-time parent friend of mine, had this to say: "You know I took my entire family — Peter (aged 19), Sean (aged 15) and Matt (aged 13). They are all on the spectrum. And my Adeline (11) came as well. All the boys took away the exact same thought I did: It's important to en- courage passions and create portfo- lios of work. Even through struggles, anything is possible with persever- ance, the right training, hard work and hope." Alison Bimbo, a mother from Middletown, had this to say: "My son is Alex and he is 8 years old. We live in Middletown. I experienced a awesome feeling listening to Temple Grandin. Her stance on enhancing kids' passions and skills is right on. She is a very positive inspiration for a mom like me. She gives me hope Alex can one day change the world as she did." Dr. Grandin speaks with me After the lecture and book signing were over, I approached Dr. Grandin with my book in hand, hoping she would give me a moment of her time for this article. I spent the weekend before de- vouring her latest work and there was so much I wanted to learn from that fantastic autistic brain of hers. I showed her a picture of my now 15-year-old boy and asked her what advice she might give a parent like me — someone with a teenager on the lower functioning end of the spectrum, with seemingly unreach- able talents and communication skills. "Put him to work, keep trying … and never give up," she said as we took a quick picture and she auto- graphed the book for my son. I thanked her and as I turned away she said, "Different kinds of minds exist." Everyone had long since gone as I walked the long, cold and lone- ly way back to my car. There was so much to think about and many thoughts raced through my mind. Then it hit me fiercely like the bit- ing cold we've had this winter — life offers an enormous opportunity for growth and maturity for each of us. Several years ago, when I heard Who is Temple Grandin? Dr. Temple Grandin is an American doctor of animal science, a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author and an autism activist, a motivational speaker, a consul- tant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and an engi- neer. She was born in 1947 and was diagnosed with autism at a young age. One of her many inventions includes the "hug box," which is a device used to soothe individu- als with autism. She was listed in the Time 100 list of the one hundred most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category and continues to inspire people all over the world. Dr. Grandin is the author of multiple best-sell- ing books. Her most recent work is entitled, "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across The Spectrum." In 2010, HBO created a doc- umentary about her life called "Temple Grandin." For more information on her incredible life, visit templegran- Grandin speak as an adult with ASD, she needed frequent breaks and an intermission. Fast forward to the Paramount Theater. Grandin was witty, knowledgeable and passion- ate. This time she spoke non-stop for 1.5 hours. She was engaging and compassionate. There were questions and answers which she handled gracefully. What an un- imaginable unexpected inspiration to us all. Never give up. Laura Licata Sullivan is a freelance writer who lives in Campbell Hall with her husband and three sons. Temple Grandin recently spoke at the Para- mount Theatre in Middletown about her new book, "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across The Spectrum."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Hudson Valley Parent - HVP - April 2014