Friday, October 31, 2008

An Evening With Temple Grandin

I had the pleasure last night of going to hear Temple Grandin speak about "Autism, Animals, and Design". It was basically a snippet of what you would learn if you read any of her books. But it was cool to hear her speak. And she's quite a funny woman!

For those of you who don't know, Temple Grandin is an accomplished author and designer who has autism. The only reason I knew who she was is because the speech therapist at the preschool I used to work at lent me her copy of "Thinking in Pictures"... hoping it would help me gain insight to working with a child with autism. I'd like to think it did.

My mother, who is now an aide in a special ed. clasroom, emailed me yesterday morning, telling me that Dr. Grandin was going to be in town that night. I was a bit worried at the short notice that I wouldn't be able to go. The information of the website was making it sound like you had to register and there was going to be limited parking and limited seating. But it also said it was open to the public...and I knew I would kick myself if I didn't at least try to make it in. We left my parents' house at 6:00 (the presentation started at 7:30)...and were able to park at the school and avoided having to park somewhere else and use the shuttle, and get a good seat. By the time the presentation started, the small school theater was packed. I was hoping with so many people there that I would see someone I used to work with...and I did run into the speech therapist and social worker from the elementary school I worked at last year.

I sort of felt a bit silly since I'm not in "the industry" anymore and don't have an autistic child (the main reason I'm sure 95% of the people were there). But my 2.5 years being a 1:1 aide for a little girl with autism has changed my life forever, given me a deep compassion for children living with autism, and sparked an interest in learning more. Plus, I have a friend and a niece with Asperger's (a condition that is often lumped together with autism and sometimes considered a "high functioning form of autism"). My friend is actually going to be a guest speaker at a Autism/Asperger's support group meeting in December...taling about what Asperger's is and what is it like to live as a person with Asperger's. I'm excited for her!

Temple Grandin's website -
Read Chapter 1 of "Thinking in Pictures" -

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