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Autism Author: ‘The World Needs All Kinds of Minds’

Temple Grandin
Rosalie Winard
Temple Grandin says autism cases have risen in recent years in part because medical experts have expanded its definition.

The autistic mind can see detail that most others don't see, but those on the autism spectrum often struggle with social interaction.
Temple Grandin calls these "uneven skills." She would know. Grandin is autistic, though not formally diagnosed until later in life.

She didn't let autism stop her from being an acclaimed author and a leading voice on the disorder which she says it often misunderstood and over-generalized.

Grandin is giving a talk at Illinois State University’s Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday as part of Science and Technology Week.

Grandin explained the focus of her speech is the world needs all kinds of minds.

“There are visual thinkers that think in photo-realistic pictures, often would be very good at design, photography, skilled trades,” she explained. “And then you’ve got the mathematical minds. They are your computer programmers. Some of them will be good at music.

“Then you have you word thinkers, where words are what they really excel at.”

Grandin said schools should offer more training in skilled trades, an area where she says many people with autism can thrive, because of their discipline and attention to detail.

“We need to start that training for working at around age 11 with dog walking jobs and church volunteer jobs, maybe playing cards with the residents at the old folks home or something like that,” Grandin said. “Things that we can find in the neighborhood.”

Grandin said the number of autism cases has risen in recent years, in part, because medical experts have expanded its definition.

She’s concerned the autism label stigmatizes some children.

“Because I’m seeing parents become overprotective on having their kid learn the most basic, basic skills like just learning how to stop, learning how to budget money,” Grandin said.

HBO turned Grandin's life story into a feature film starring Claire Danes. It won seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe and a Peabody award.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.