Temple Grandin weighs in on helping kids with autism

The number of kids in the U.S. with autism has skyrocketed 78-percent since 2000. One in 88 kids has it. Among boys it's one in 54.

Now, arguably the most famous autistic woman, Temple Grandin, once thought to be brain damaged and now a best selling author, is sharing her tips on how to care for autistic kids at every stage.

All ages and different ends of the spectrum can be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Autistic author and animal scientist Temple Grandin says, "On one end of the spectrum, you're gonna have a brilliant person who's running an important company out in Silicon Valley ... the other end of the spectrum, you're gonna have somebody who's gonna remain non-verbal."

Temple says no matter where you start, for all infants, early intervention is key. One study found kids placed in intensive programs before their third birthday improved their IQ by 18 points, changing the severity of their diagnosis.

For toddlers and young kids, one of the most overlooked problems is sensory overload. From loud sounds to lighting. "Fluorescent lighting will flicker like a disco tech, flash on and off like a strobe light, and that is one of the worst problems we can have in the classroom," Temple says.

Avoid that by using 100-watt lamps for the child's desk. Temple also recommends using pale colored glasses and printing homework on pastel paper. students with ASD typically do best with routines. Outside the classroom, teens should find interests that create structure and repetition to help them develop job skills. "Paper routes are the best thing that ever happened to 13-year-olds, especially kids that are kinda geeky and on the spectrum, because you gotta do it every day!" Temple says.

Regardless of where you start on the spectrum, a little extra attention can go a long way.

When it comes to college kids, Temple says good majors for visual thinkers are art, animation and design. Those motivated by math should check into computer science and engineering, and word thinkers may find a match with library science or journalism.


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