Temple Grandin shares her perspective on Autism

In this video, Temple Grandin has some great tips for parents of Autistic children. She touches on so many issues in the Autism realm. Here are some points she expounds upon:

  • Slowly stretch your child: Give them opportunities to do activities that expand their current reality. Have them take turns with a sibling every day.
  • Later in the interview Temple talks about children that have visual and auditory sensitivities. (I believe that many children with Autism are sensitive to one, or both of these.) She talks about working up to things slowly. If they are annoyed by a loud noise, like a ring on your phone, let them be in charge of it (making it ring). If the grocery store drives your child nuts, let them decide how long they want to be in there, and leave when they give you an agreed upon signal. Then push it the next time. (You can agree that you will go one minute beyond what they did last time, and reward them for lasting longer in the store. Continue to push the time you stay and shop.) She does mention that some people with Autism will never be able to go into a grocery store, and I definitely think this is something we, as parents, need to consider.
  • Potty Training. Oh, I was happy to hear this one! I had no idea how we were going to potty train our three-and-a-half-year-old son who is nonverbal and does not have much comprehension of language. She began with auditory sensitivities. Some children with Autism don’t like certain noises, and running water or flushing toilets can be something that sends them reeling. (I can relate, have you heard some of the toilets flushing in a public restroom? It’s like a tornado! Can you imagine being your child?) So that may be something that scares them away from toilet training.
  • The second part of toilet training had to do with the child seeing what is happening. They need to SEE the whole task slowly so they can understand it. They need to SEE the waste go in the toilet.
  • She talks about getting our Autistic children out in the community, learning job skills, not sitting and watching video games. (Spinning car wheels doesn’t really help them either.) Don’t let your child be a recluse all the time. Temple’s mother let her spin a ball on her bed for one hour every day and that was her “video game.” (Let them take care of their sensory needs – watching a spinning ball – but don’t let them do it all day.) Get your teen out there learning life skills so they can function in society (although this begins at early childhood). What is your teen interested in? Computer game? They can work in a computer store. Museums? They can begin volunteering to give tours at museums at age twelve. Does your child like animals? They can walk dogs.
  • She mentions repetitive movements. If you want them to stop doing something because it is bothersome to others, give them something to replace it. A stress ball, doodling, or something that spins quietly. (Whatever need they are trying to meet, you will need to meet it in another way.)
  • In our little world, we do different things to stretch our son, and it has paid off tremendously. When I read a book to Jeremiah, I don’t stop reading when he decides he doesn’t want to move past the first page. I hold him on my lap until we’ve read two more, so it’s not his decision when he gets down. We also stretch him in hand-over-hand therapy. Our therapist instructed us on how to teach him to play, and this is with hand-over-hand movements. I put my hand over his, grab toys, place them in something while giving the verbal cue, “In.” This pairs the action with the word we are wanting him to say. Our son is non-verbal so this is a little different technique than some will use. We stretch him in this also, as he didn’t want to participate in the beginning. It was new and very frustrating for him. Now he handles it better and can actually follow some given directions that have been repeated over a long period of time.

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