Monthly Archives: August 2014

Which is more limiting? The Autism Label? Or Our Parenting?

Temple Grandin, whom I greatly admire,  refers to parenting as a “major source of therapeutic momentum”.  But she adds, when children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, parents may not have enough expectations for their children.

 

They bring the child through school to graduation, but in the meantime, they have not given the child the kind of experience that teaches them life skills, leaving the graduate either unemployed or under-employed.

Autistic children need to learn how to work, Grandin asserts.  They need to learn basic coping skills, like how to shop, how to order food in a restaurant.  Showing up on time, being responsible for a task outcome, these are skills that are needed in order to learn how to be on the job.

 

That’s why I personally feel that involving kids on the autism spectrum in some kind of volunteer activity, where they must show up regularly, and perform expected tasks, is invaluable to today’s kids, autistic or not.

 

As a volunteer, they must learn to be courteous (a missing factor in today’s world, Grandin laments) and to be reliable, to learn certain work routines and to cope with organizational structures.

As a volunteer, they will also meet retired people who have similar interests and who can mentor them.

The best part?  The child can choose the type of organization he/she wishes to volunteer with and select from a schedule of available days and times those which would be most suitable for them.

These kinds of situations force spectrum kids to interact with others, and Grandin says to insist on social interaction for your child is not only desirable, but necessary if you want him to succeed.

 

“The skills that people with autism bring to the table should be nurtured, for their benefit and for society’s.”  That’s why Grandin believes parents must help their children get out into the work world, learn coping skills and the basics of social etiquette.

As parents, we either help, or hinder.  While we cannot help how children are viewed by others, our most important work is in how we encourage our children to see themselves.

 

Quotes from: http://www.templegrandin.com/

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Autism Spectrum Children Over-Protected: Temple Grandin

The main thrust of personalities on the autism spectrum is social awkwardness, Temple Grandin, an autistic scientist, best-selling author and public speaker maintains.  Her most recent book, “The Autistic Brain” is the topic of her speech available at  www.chicagohumanities.org.

“It’s like our brains have been programmed with all the social circuitry left out.” Grandin says.  “Who do you think invented the spear?”  She asks.  Certainly not those social types sitting chatting around the fire!

 

But Grandin is concerned that children today are allowed to become recluses in their bedrooms or the basement.  They are over-protected, she asserts, and as a result, they become adults on welfare sitting home playing video games.

 

Because kids on the autism spectrum are socially awkward, Parents may tend to protect them from social situations, allowing the children to avoid all participation. The problem as Grandin sees it is that as parents, we are not pushing our autistic children hard enough.  Listening, I can hear that Grandin is looking back at tasks she was made to do as a child which she dreaded at the time.  Now, however, she sees the value in her mother’s determination.

 

For instance Grandin’s mother forced Temple to play hostess at her cocktail parties, to take on family tasks and to visit relatives independently each year.  Nowadays, these daily routines are missing.  Grandin mourns the loss of paper routes which taught children how to work, and chores which taught children basic skills like cooking and sewing.  Grandin also regrets the loss in some schools woodwork and metalwork classes.  These lessons taught not only basic skills, but also practical problem solving and resourcefulness.

 

The solution?  Autistic children need their boundaries pushed.  Her message is that children need mentors and to have that, they must socialize.  Common interests are the threads that bind autistic people with others socially.  Her suggestion?  Retired people who work with the skill-sets that interest your autistic child are the kind of people who could be good mentors for your child.

 

Her talk is interesting and thought-provoking. For anyone with autism spectrum issues in the family, it is well worth the hour spent listening.  Her video is available at: http://chicagohumanities.org/events/2013/animal/temple-grandin?gclid=CjwKEAjw68ufBRDt0Zmrn4W_8AwSJADcjp1c8n1Utyy3mnJeYdd940H2AEKV1F2Imhly0MZsHZr5SxoChdfw_wcB

A shorter version can be found on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWePrOuSeSY.

 

 

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