I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Temple Grandin last night. Dr. Grandin has autism. She is also a professor and works in the fields of animal husbandry, cattle ranching and construction. She is an author and a renowned speaker on gifted children and autism.
Her lecture was a smattering of neuroscience, teaching techniques for children with autism, old-fashioned wisdom, humor, descriptions of sensory dysfunction and biographical stories. She gave an honest and forthright picture of what autism is for her. Dressed in her typical embroidered cowgirl style shirt, she was quirky, adamant about her opinions and funny. You could always tell when she was going to throw out a zinger because she would chortle, cracking herself up before she gave the punch line.
I cannot get rid of something that she said at the end of the evening. This was not part of her prepared talk, but said in response to a question from the audience. She said that she was often asked why she continues to teach at the university and remain involved in industry. She said that her response to that question is always that “she wants to be about more than her autism.”
Our kids are more than their autism. Or their Down Syndrome. Or their sensory processing issues. Or their communication delay. Or their wheelchair, medical issues, seizures, ADD or intellect. Our kids are first and foremost kids. Created by God to be who they are.
I’m challenging my self to consistently look beyond the label. I’m challenging you to do the same.
Get out in the community. Expose your kids to this big world of people and sights and sounds and colors. Let your kids try whatever they want to try. Theater, dance, art, music, sports, scouts, gardening, writing, animal care, swimming, fishing, surfing, crafts, cooking….the options are endless. Let them be about more than ______. Maybe you will have the next Dr. Temple Grandin speaking to standing room only rooms of people.