Friday, September 14, 2007

Temple of geeks

The spouse and I had two rare occurrences last night. We got to go out a few hours by ourselves, and we got to be part of a open forum Q&A with Dr. Temple Grandin.

I had no questions for her I just wanted to hear what she had to say. Most of her answers were plain common sense. The sort of answers that make "normal people" stop and say "Well duh! Why didn't I think of that?"

She describes the way she thinks as putting a topic in Google images search engine. She thinks in pictures. She says there are three types of thinking;
"1. Visual thinking - Thinking in Pictures, like mine 2. Music and Math thinking
3. Verbal logic thinking."

Dr. Grandin warns parents to not stomp out the things their children obsess over. Instead she says to use these things to teach. Find books about it to teach them to read. Find clubs for it to help social interactions and use it to teach turn taking. Turn taking she says is key.

On treatments, Dr.Grandin is conservative, she must have at least three families that claim it was successful and they must answer her defense attorney-like questions. So far chelation and Hbot do not meet her standards. Medications, she says must have the "Wow factor" but she says just a tad too much and the person will feel like they drank 10 cups of coffee or worse.

She says to teach kids career skills and start on it at around 10 yrs of age. She describes Google and Microsoft as "Full of Apsies and Auties that were the lucky ones. The ones who had mentors to give them direction. The ones who didn't have their obsession stomped out of them."

Whether she meant to or not, she had us cracking up. The self proclaimed "geek". I loved the twinkle in her eyes when she described friends of hers (most with Aspergers) that were in Silicon Valley.

Dr. Grandin also told us that studies show that some great composers had aspergers, and Dr. Einstein was most likely autistic.

She told a story about being on an airplane in coach and a couple that made out the whole flight. She confesses she does not "get" or understand all that. She likens it to the reaction her autistic friend has to the conversation of server farms. She tilts her head back, eyes closed, and exclaims "Ahhhhh!"

She says she has the emotional status of a 10 year old boy. As example she tells the story of her being on a construction sight where someone kept stealing the lunches. She can barely stop laughing as she tells about the guys putting dog crap on sandwiches and letting the lunch thief steal it.

When asked by families if there child will ever have meaningful relations (I take it she meant marital relations), she has one answer, "I don't know. Maybe if they find someone with the same intense interests. You have to remember your kid is a geek."

So much insightful information I can't possibly remember to get it all down. She talked about sensitivities, colored glasses and paper for visual processing problems, antidepressants, diets, ABA, speech and OT, manners, and potty training.

During the entirety of the session she spoke of her Mother often. The treatments her Mother used and the people she used as a team. I think it's fair to say that her Mother did one hell of a job.


Casdok said...

How interesting!

Michelle O'Neil said...

This is great. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful evening.

I've read her books, and find her very endearing and so educational.

Samara Leigh said...

The one time I watched The View was when they had the special on autism. That was the first time I saw Dr. Temple Grandin, though I'd heard of her before.

I've been trying to use some of these techniques with my now 18-year-old son(ADHD/Asperger's).

I worry all of the time that he will never enjoy "normal" relationships with others.

Thank you for sharing this. I'm going to pick up one of her books next week.

merry weather said...

That was fascinating reading. None of us can be pigeon-holed really, can we. Rather we're all shades of different potentials. Learning to see your child's autism in a new framework - that must be a comfort and a strength.

I cringed reading about his poor foot! Those kind of disasters crop up so quickly and often I find when I'm at either my most busy or most tired... Hoping the stitches hold and he recovers quickly.

Suzy said...

I saw an incredible interview with her on her approach with cows. She is an researcher on how animals, particularly cows can be treated more humanely before they enter the slaughhouse. She is an animal rights activist for animals, particularly farm animals.