From the Publisher
This is an inspiring book. The stories of achievement will be encouraging for parents of a young child with an autism spectrum disorder and will be especially inspirational for adolescents and young adults who are feeling despondent that autism could deprive them of a successful career or relationship. This book has antidepressant qualities to rival those of medication.
Dr. Tony Attwood
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Different, Not Less Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD
By Temple Grandin
Future Horizons Copyright © 2012 Temple Grandin
All right reserved.
The people in this book have had their difficulties—especially in the area of relationships. For some of these individuals, this arena has been more difficult than employment. One of the reasons why they sought out a diagnosis was their difficulty with relationships. For most individuals on the spectrum, the road to successful employment started with teenage jobs, such as paper routes. Having a paper route taught the basic work skills of being on time and having to do it every day. Today, the paper routes are mostly gone, but a good modern substitute for a young Aspie is dog walking. Like a paper route, it has to be done every day. Other good jobs for teenagers on the spectrum would be fixing computers, making PowerPoint presentations, maintaining and updating Web sites, working in a farmer’s market, writing for the church or community newsletter, selling art, or helping an elderly neighbor.
When I was a teenager, I did hand-sewing for a seamstress, cleaned horse stalls, built carpentry projects, and painted signs. The crucial skill that has to be learned is how to do work that is assigned by other people. In my design work, I often had to modify my designs to either fit the building site or satisfy some whim of the client. There are some people on the spectrum who can get hired easily by showing a portfolio of artwork or programming code. However, they cannot keep a job because they do not get assigned work done. They are either rigid and inflexible in modifying a project to satisfy the boss, or they refuse to do work that is outside their area of interest. When kids do jobs in middle and high school, it teaches them valuable work skills, such as flexibility and doing assigned tasks. If a teenager is creating a Web page for a real-estate office, he will learn that he cannot decorate it with science-fiction characters. When I made signs as a teenager, I did not paint horses on a sign for a beauty shop. I had to learn how to do work that other people wanted.
Recently, I had a lady walk up to me in the airport and say, “Your book, Thinking in Pictures, saved my marriage. Now I understand my engineer husband, and we are able to work things out.”
Each contributor in this book has a unique story, and my intent is that their stories will provide hope and insight to individuals on the spectrum, as well as parents, teachers, and professionals.
People on the autism spectrum always keep learning. It is never too late to learn new skills, improve relationships, or learn better work skills. To grow, a person on the spectrum has to “stretch.” Stretching is a good analogy, because sudden surprises cause fear. Even individuals my age can learn new skills. When I was writing this introduction, I talked to a family member of a woman in her 60s who has autism. Within the past year, she discovered that the way she dressed herself improved her life, and now she enjoys nicer clothes. The mind of the person with autism can always keep learning. It is never too late to change. A person on the spectrum needs an employer, spouse, or friend who will calmly coach him when he makes social mistakes. He has to be instructed on how to behave, like a character in a play. In my own life, I have gained great insight from reading the writings of other individuals on the spectrum.
- Dr Temple Grandin
Excerpted from Different, Not Less by Temple Grandin Copyright © 2012 by Temple Grandin. Excerpted by permission.
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