Temple Grandin has long been an autism advocate, being amongst the first to write about her experiences with autism and producing a plethora of books on the subject.
The 66 year old professor at Colorado State University is to add her voice to a campaign to raise awareness of trends in autism awareness after saying that more research needs to be done into the way that autism affects people’s senses.
Grandin herself was diagnosed with autism when she was twelve years old, when research into the condition was in it’s infancy. Psychologists of her day labelled her as “odd” and thought she was suffering from some form of brain damage. Her life story was dramatised into an EMI award winning movie by HBO in 2010.
Speaking via telephone to Canadian Press about sensory difficulties and sensitivities, she said:
“They vary from a nuisance to being very debilitating,” the renowned author and activist said in a telephone interview.
“You’ve got some people that you take into a loud, noisy supermarket and they just can’t take it. They sort of feel like they’re inside the speaker at a rock concert.You can’t socialize them if they can’t stand the environment “
She believes strongly that trying to socialise individuals who are experiencing sensory overload is nearly impossible, and believes that more money needs to be injected into research for this specific area of the condition.
Grandin used medication to overcome some of her symptoms including anxiety which she believed were exacerbated by her sensitivities to the environment.
She will visit Montreal as part of the campaign and will attend the National Trends in Autism conference today, November 6 and she will also visit and speak at the launch of the See Things My Way campaign sponsored by the Miriam Foundation to raise awareness about autism across Canada.
“They used to think all these things were psychological. Autism is a biological, neurological disorder. If you’ve got a two-year-old that’s not talking, you’ve got to start immediately working with that kid, doing a lot of one-on-one teaching.
“You’ve got to start working with that kid and working with him right now, getting him engaged with the world. Start working with kids when they’re 12, doing paper routes. If you don’t have paper routes, then paper route substitutes like dog-walking or maybe helping at the church, setting the church up on Sunday — something where the child starts to learn work skills.
“Einstein would be labelled autistic today — no language until age three.”