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Asperger's Syndrome: Secret to Success

Scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, PhD, reflects on life with Asperger's syndrome.
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Any other tips?

Parents should also encourage social interaction through shared interest, whether a computer club, band club, or an acting club.

What were your interests growing up?

For me, it was model rockets, riding horses, and electronic lab. I was teased horribly in high school, but when I was horseback riding or in electronic lab, there was no teasing. I was not interested in studying or school until I had a goal of becoming a scientist. To this day, most of my social life revolves around livestock or autism.

In addition to not speaking when you were younger, you also had sensory issues. Do any remain?

I am still overly sensitive to touch, but now these are nuisance issues and not debilitating.

What advice do you have for children with sensory issues?

Sensory problems are common with many different brain disorders. For some children, being in a supermarket feels like they are in a speaker at a rock-and-roll concert or a flicker of light can look like a discotheque. We have to be careful about sensory overload in these kids. I wish there were a lot more research being done on the sensory disorders.

Any other creative tips on how to get parents to help children overcome their sensory issues?

Try on different color sunglasses at Wal-Mart to see what stops the flicker or get the right computer screen so they don't see the flicker. You can also print on different colored papers to reduce contour and stop flickering.

What is the best advice that you can give parents who are concerned their child might be autistic?

If you have a baby doing odd behavior, don't wait. You have to get someone to do a lot of one-on-one activities with that baby as soon as possible. The worst thing you can do is wait.

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Reviewed on March 26, 2008
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