Dr. Temple Grandin has been described as the most well-known adult with autism in the world. She has written several books on her life experience with autism as well as books on animal behavior.
Getting tickets to the live event was a challenge! Within 15 minutes of opening, the tickets were all spoken for. UBCO opened two venues on campus for live simulcasts and both were soon filled. When Dr. Grandin was introduced to the live audience at Kelowna Community Theatre, the MC indicated that the more than 800 seats in the theatre were only 1/3 of the audience. The two simulcast presentations at UBCO each had 800 attendees. An astonishing 2400 people viewed Dr. Grandin’s talk. While most people were interested in her presentation on autism, many people attending were interested in her research working with animals.
Dr. Grandin’s presentation was primarily focused on her new book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum. She referenced more recent research on three different ways of thinking across the autism spectrum: 1. Visual Thinkers – people like herself who think in images,.2. Pattern Thinkers – those who are mathematical and musical and those who can spatially visualize abstract forms 3. Verbal or Auditory Thinkers – those who think in word details and excel with facts.
An entertaining speaker, Dr. Grandin had the audience laughing at times with anecdotes from her childhood, adolescence and her adult life. In supporting parents and individuals on the spectrum, her biggest points were to ensure that children and adults living with ASD were given lots of early supports. Exposure to books, finding engaging mentors, hard exercise (mostly outdoors), and discovering activities that each person loved to do, were some of the things she suggested. Developing fine motor skills for example, in her opinion, helps to improve concentration, develop discipline and perseverance.
She emphasized that active learning rather than passively learning theory in school was the best approach for ASD individuals. Bringing back art classes as well as practical skills like carpentry, cooking and sewing would be highly beneficial. She stressed how important social interaction training is to the child and adult with ASD and even emphasized the ASD individual find a job after school to help with social skills training.
The evening wrapped up with a short question/answer session and book signing. Temple Grandin has created a life and career from hard work, mentor support, self-reflection, and self-discovery. Her hope is that other individuals living with ASD can do the same.
You can learn more about Dr. Grandin at her website www.templegrandin.com