Author of the week: Temple Grandin

Young Temple was unable to speak until age 4 and was diagnosed with autism a year later.

Temple Grandin was born into the right household, said Nancy Churnin in The Dallas Morning News. Young Temple was unable to speak until age 4 and was diagnosed with autism a year later. Yet—as Grandin recounts in her new book, The Autistic Brain—her mother never got hung up on labels. Instead, she put the future professor and best-selling author into a structured nursery school, instructed a nanny to spend hours teaching Temple to play turn-taking games, and devised ways to promote the youngster’s social skills. “When I was little, my mother made me put my party dress on, and I had to shake hands with every guest,” Grandin says. “I’m glad she taught me to do it. My mother had a really good sense of just how hard to push me.”

Grandin now aims to be the same kind of advocate for other children with autism, said Maia Szalavitz in Time.com. Recalling how she held multiple after-school jobs as a teenager, she argues that young people with mild autism should be encouraged to do the same today. “I’m seeing too many kids that are really talented and on the high end of the spectrum going nowhere,” she says. “They haven’t learned how to work.” In her view, getting more autistic people into the workforce will benefit everyone, since their pattern-spotting tendencies have already led to countless innovations. So many have special talents, she argues. “Who do you think made the first stone spear?” she says. “It certainly wasn’t the social yakkity yaks around the campfire.”

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