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- Children with autism or other “labels” often have uneven skills. They may be really good at math but have poor reading skills. Parents and teachers need to build up that area of strength. Give full support to children in the subject they are good at.
- “If you don’t stretch these kids, they don’t develop.” Grandin advises that children with autism must be “pushed” outside their comfort zones. Make them do things they are afraid to do. How far the child should be pushed depends on the child’s circumstances. Parents and teachers must use their judgment on this issue.
- Stop doing things for your child that he or she should learn to do. Grandin gave an example of a ten-year-old child who is out with his parents. When they meet someone, the parents do all the talking including talking or answering for the child. Parents should not do this, as the child needs to learn how to talk to people.
- In some cases, parents and teachers need to raise the expectations they
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have for a child. Again, Grandin emphasized the need to push children outside their comfort zone.
- Parents must be proactive when searching for help, answers to questions, etc. Grandin mentioned the huge amount of resources available for parents online now. She mentioned Khan Academy as one example.
- Consistent with prior talks, Grandin reiterated the need to think about “outcomes.” Instead of playing video games all the time, kids need to learn work skills. What are your children going to do with their lives? Are your children learning skills that will help them get jobs? Grandin also stated that skilled trades would be good careers for some with autism, as they would be building something.
For people not on the spectrum, Grandin offered some advice on how to interact with people who have autism. She used the analogy of teaching someone how to behave in a foreign country that has different customs, languages and protocols. Every instruction or explanation must be explicit. You need to explain things with step-by-step instructions.