Share |

Friday, July 17, 2009

I heard Temple Grandin and Tony Attwood speak today. They were at the autism summit hosted in Dallas by Future Horizons. If you do not know who Temple Grandin is, she is the most famous adult in the world with high functioning autism. She has a Ph.D. in animal science and is a very successful speaker and publisher. She invented the squeeze box. Tony is one of the foremost authorities on Asperger's Disorder. It was great to be able to hear both of them speak on the same day. The conference was videotaped and will be shown on the internet they said. I am not sure exactly when, but I will keep checking on it. I will post a link on this blog so that anyone interested in it can find it. Check back to look for the link.

The best part of hearing Temple Grandin speak is that she can really put you inside the mind of someone with autism. She lives it and makes it possible for people like me to feel like we can really understand how person with autism thinks. She talked about how she did not have language as a young child but received a lot of early, intensive intervention. She said her mother expected her to join activities and do everything that was expected. However, she also stressed the need for some private, down time each day for kids to be who they are, autistic. Everyone needs a break to relax and be themselves. She speaks around the country on a regular basis and if you ever get the chance to hear her it is well worth it. Her books are also great.

Some of the things that she stressed included how hard it is for people with autism to categorize things and see how they are related, how hard it is to shift attention (like it is required in conversation), sensory issues and medication issues. One of the things she said about medication is that, in her opinion, the doses in the physician's desk reference may be more than is needed for people with autism. She recommended trying 1/4 to 1/2 of the recommended dose first because the full dose can sometimes actually cause problems, like sleep difficulties and so forth. She stressed how her own medication has helped her to be able to even speak to people like this. She also eats a special diet and said that that has helped her.

One of the other things she talked about was something that I have seen first hand. I had one student who was very abusive to himself and to others around him. It seemed like the more we took his hand (when he would swing it at us) the more he wanted to hit. We tried everything and nothing worked. Eventually (after the school nurse had sent him home more than once because he was throwing up), they found out that he had an ulcer. He had been in pain. Once the ulcer was treated, his hitting stopped. This may not be the cause for every child, but Temple stressed the importance of making sure that there is no pain with teeth, stomach, etc. Pain can definitely cause aggressive reactions.

No comments:

Post a Comment