On Sunday night I watched a brilliant film, Temple Grandin, about an amazing women with high functioning autism. Dr Temple Grandin was born in 1947 and was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, and her mother was advised by doctors at the time, that it would be best if her daughter was institutionalised, Temple’s mother refused and started on a journey to help her daughter live a full life as a indepentant person. Temple Grandin went on to not only deal with the daily difficulties of living in a society that did not understand autism and people’s prejudice towards her autism but also being a woman in a male dominated world of the 70’s. She has a bachelor degree in psychology, a masters and Ph.D in Animal Science and currently is Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.
Most people won’t even have heard of Temple Grandin or care who she is. However my son has a diagnosis of high functioning autism, and I have attended seminars and read many books on autism and how autistic people see the world, although I haven’t read any of Temple Grandin’s books on autism, yet, I know how useful her insights into how she perceives the world have been to so many parents.
There are many scientists working on finding the cause of autism with a view to finding a cure, however I believe that we should work at getting society to understand the difficulties that autistic people go through to fit into society and encourage people to be tolerant of their behaviour, and celebrate the amazingly different way that autistic people think and experience the world around them. I consider myself blessed to have a son with high functioning autism, as I have learnt so much in our journey, it has not always been easy but I have met so many wonderful people who have helped me and my son. I also know so much more about Thomas the Tank engine and steam trains.
As a parent it is painful to hear that your child is different to other children and to think that their life is going to be more difficult because of it. It is 50 years since Temple Grandin was bullied at school for being autistic and although there is now a far greater understanding about autism, autistic children and adults are still bullied and teased for being different. We need to stop this, no one should be made to feel sad for being who they are, whether they are teased for being autistic or over weight or dyslexic or poor.
Please think before you judge some one for being different or tease them and if you have children please educate them to accept people’s differences, whether they be physical or in the way they think.