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Thread: Temple Grandin Biography / Autism Discussion

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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Temple Grandin Biography / Autism Discussion

    Hi all,
    Some of you may have heard of Temple Grandin. HBO recently released a movie about her life; she is autistic and has learned to use her "gifts" to find a place in the world and to excel professionally (she is one the world's foremost leading experts on animal behavior).
    Grandin is on the "high functioning" side of the autism spectrum, which is a continuum of traits and symptoms that includes both people like her (mildly autistic) and those who may not be able to speak or interact with others at all. We all know or have known people like her- we call them quirky, or nerds, or geeky, people who are socially awkward but who are highly intelligent in some arcane way.
    Here is a link to a short lecture she gave on TED recently. It's about 20 minutes long. She talks about the differences in the way autistic people think, compared to others.
    Here is another, a shorter version on the same themes she did for CNN. The end of it is kind of funny, if you know anyone who is autistic. She just declares that she needs to leave, and off she goes.
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    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    I heard an interview with her on NPR a few weeks ago. Very interesting.
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    I just downloaded her book Thinking in Pictures as an audiobook a few weeks back. It's a bit repetitive, but its a very interested read/listen. It's of particular interest to me because my little brother has a disorder which includes many autistic tendencies.
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    Hi all,
    Some of you may have heard of Temple Grandin. HBO recently released a movie about her life; she is autistic and has learned to use her "gifts" to find a place in the world and to excel professionally (she is one the world's foremost leading experts on animal behavior).
    Grandin is on the "high functioning" side of the autism spectrum, which is a continuum of traits and symptoms that includes both people like her (mildly autistic) and those who may not be able to speak or interact with others at all. We all know or have known people like her- we call them quirky, or nerds, or geeky, people who are socially awkward but who are highly intelligent in some arcane way.
    Here is a link to a short lecture she gave on TED recently. It's about 20 minutes long. She talks about the differences in the way autistic people think, compared to others.
    Here is another, a shorter version on the same themes she did for CNN. The end of it is kind of funny, if you know anyone who is autistic. She just declares that she needs to leave, and off she goes.

    She seems very high functioning, in fact she seems pretty darn sharp to me. Not too many people I know can speak that quickly and fluidly in front of a group of people

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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Ray View Post
    She seems very high functioning, in fact she seems pretty darn sharp to me. Not too many people I know can speak that quickly and fluidly in front of a group of people
    Exactly- I think your use of the term "sharp" shows exactly how people like Grandin are changing the perception that autism is equated with diminished intellectual capacity. The common understanding of autism is still Rainmain, whereas the psychiatric community has recognized that a whole family of traits and behaviors and not just IQ are part of the spectrum.

    Thirty years ago, most people with Grandin's IQ and her ability to function (at least marginally) in a social world would be labeled "quirky", "odd", "nerd" whereas now they might instead be recognized as "Aspergers", "PDD-NOS", "high functioning". She was an exception to that and received therapy and help, due largely to her mother's efforts.
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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    It seems to me that the definition of autism has widened greatly in recent years, especially if you include the autism spectrum disorders. There's no medical test, only clinical evaluation. Much of this evaluation centers on social interaction. If a person is a loner, is he autistic? I would hope not. Is autism permanent or can you grow out of it through therapy and/or diet?

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Social interaction is just one of the "triad" of things they look for to make the diagnosis of autism. Besides impairment in social interaction, they also look for impairment in communication and the presence of restricted/repetitive behavior. It's a permanent condition, although therapies can lessen the severity of the behaviors.
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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Ray View Post
    It seems to me that the definition of autism has widened greatly in recent years, especially if you include the autism spectrum disorders. There's no medical test, only clinical evaluation. Much of this evaluation centers on social interaction. If a person is a loner, is he autistic? I would hope not. Is autism permanent or can you grow out of it through therapy and/or diet?
    This is a problem with diagnosis of autism. On the one hand, it's probably a good thing that the psychiatric profession has gotten a better hold of autism, so that people's behavior can be better understood. On the other hand, it's a label that people outside the psychiatric community don't understand very well, and in particular it amounts to a negative label. Additionally, social mores and conventions are so extremely important in human society and it is hard for people to grasp that behavior can be a function of hard wiring rather than poor parenting or some personal failing.

    There are therapies for those who are autistic. Grandin writes that it was critical for her to learn how to navigate the social world and because of that she has done well.
    There are also those who believe certain diets such as non dairy/non gluten can cure autism, but the science on that has not proven conclusive. It doesn't mean some people have not had success with this kind of therapy, though.
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck View Post
    There are also those who believe certain diets such as non dairy/non gluten can cure autism, but the science on that has not proven conclusive. It doesn't mean some people have not had success with this kind of therapy, though.
    I have a friend who treated his son at an early age with such a diet and now he's about 10 years old and to my eye functions quite normally. I wonder, is he still autistic? I honestly don't know. I also don't know if they discontinued his diet plan if he'd regress.

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    I think Autism has become the "it" diagnosis/disease/condition of the past decade. This is a good thing because not only has it brought autism to the forefront, but it also has succeeded in raising millions upon millions of dollars to autism research. Over the course of my lifetime I am pretty certain that a cure will be created for autism.

    I may be way off base, but I have begun to believe that some of the great minds in history have had traits of Aspergers syndrome or have had some autistic traits. Guys who were very prolific in math, science, art, etc. who have also been noted as socially awkward I believe in today's world would be diagnosed with a form of autism. From an outsiders point of view there are parallels to the disease today but no one know about autism at that stage in history.
    Last edited by bucksfan2; 03-02-2010 at 03:21 PM.

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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    I think Autism has become the "it" diagnosis/disease/condition of the past decade. This is a good thing because not only has it brought autism to the forefront, but it also has succeeded in raising millions upon millions of dollars to autism research. Over the course of my lifetime I am pretty certain that a cure will be created for autism.

    I may be way off base, but I have begun to believe that some of the great minds in history have had traits of asbergers syndrome or have had some autistic traits. Guys who were very prolific in math, science, art, etc. who have also been noted as socially awkward I believe in today's world would be diagnosed with a form of autism. From an outsiders point of view there are parallels to the disease today but no one know about autism at that stage in history.
    There are several books, articles and web sites devoted to the retrospective diagnosis of Aspergers. Einstein, Mozart, Jefferson, Edison, Tesla, the list goes on. And I recently heard about a study that found a higher occurrence of Aspergers among those with PhDs. That shouldn't be earth shattering, after all what environment is more suited to someone with Aspergers than being allowed to focus on one particular aspect of knowledge for an entire career?
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    It might surprise some of you to know that I'm diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Every day is a struggle, but therapy has helped me a great deal.

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    From what I gather, Temple's a bit of a controversy among the parents who follow Jenny McCarthy in their crusade to stop immunizing children. She doesn't really subscribe to the notion that children with autism are "damaged" by doctors and pharmaceutical companies out to make a buck by pushing immunization. Yet 22 or 23 studies have been done showing no link to autism and the one study that did show a link was done by a researcher who has now been discredited.

    My experience with friends and family with autistic children seems to fall in line with Temple's notion that a lot of people with autism are people whose brains are just wired differently. They definitely have serious problems with social interaction, but they are quite talented in their own way. I don't think these children could ever be "cured," but their parents have worked hard with therapy and personal interaction with their children to the point where they have progressed and made strides in being able to interact with people and other children on a social level. The difficulty is that they had to find a way to communicate with the kids in a way the kids understood. It takes time, patience and a lot of effort.
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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    For whatever it's worth, I wasn't immunized, and although I'm anti-immunization, I don't think Jenny McCarthy's claims are completely valid.

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Temple Grandin

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    From what I gather, Temple's a bit of a controversy among the parents who follow Jenny McCarthy in their crusade to stop immunizing children. She doesn't really subscribe to the notion that children with autism are "damaged" by doctors and pharmaceutical companies out to make a buck by pushing immunization. Yet 22 or 23 studies have been done showing no link to autism and the one study that did show a link was done by a researcher who has now been discredited.
    From what I have heard the scientific community vehemently denies any link between the MMR shots and autism. The scientific links just don't support the hypothesis. I think there are some serious dangers to having a young child not immunized, not only to themselves but to the people they come into contact with.

    As for Jenny McCarty I think her fight against autism is a good fight. I do however wonder if we fail to look at ourselves and blame outside forces. I do wonder if years of hard partying and high living had any correlation to an autistic child. I have absolutely no proof but just something that I have thought about.

    My experience with friends and family with autistic children seems to fall in line with Temple's notion that a lot of people with autism are people whose brains are just wired differently. They definitely have serious problems with social interaction, but they are quite talented in their own way. I don't think these children could ever be "cured," but their parents have worked hard with therapy and personal interaction with their children to the point where they have progressed and made strides in being able to interact with people and other children on a social level. The difficulty is that they had to find a way to communicate with the kids in a way the kids understood. It takes time, patience and a lot of effort.
    You may very well be correct. I really haven't had much direct association with an autistic kid. I have a neighbor with an autistic kid any my sister and good friend work with autistic kids for a living. I tend to find disorder interesting and like to discuss it with them. It does make sense that neurologically autistic kids brains are wired differently. But for me that is a little vague. Maybe a cure for autism isn't possible but then I do believe the cause of the disorder will be found. To me with the amount of money being pored into the research of autism and the number of highly intelligent people working in autism research a break through is bound to happen. What that break through becomes is a whole different story.


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