Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin: 'Libraries are just a lifeline for parents with autistic kids'

"Libraries are just a lifeline for parents with autistic kids."

Well, I always love books as a child. I remember reading "TheWizard of Oz" as a child, "Black Beauty." And one of my favorite books when I was really young was a book about  famous inventors. It was a children's book aimed at about third grade that had pictures of all the famous inventors like  Thomas Edison and the inventor of the sewing machine and a whole lot of other inventors.

My mother really worked on fostering reading. She read to us, both my sister and I, when we were little kids and books were always a really important thing in our house.

Well, I'm probably doing most of my academic research now on the Internet, but I talk to lots and lots of parents of children with autism and for many of our low-income parents, the library is the only way they can get books. They cannot afford a fifteen dollar paperback. They have to wait for it to come into the library and for many people all around the whole country it's the only way they can get information. They can't afford Internet access.

And in low-income areas, that's where libraries are just a lifeline for parents with autistic kids and just all kinds of people. Well, I think school libraries are important.  We've got to get kids interested in reading. I was rather disturbed to read that fewer young adults today are reading books just for pleasure and when they were asked, you know, what's the last book you read for pleasure they mentioned "Harry Potter," which I think is absolutely great for getting kids interested in books, but they hadn't been reading any other books for pleasure since they had read "Harry Potter" as a young child and I've always enjoyed reading.

I had trouble learning to read originally. My mother had to teach me to read when I was in third grade and then once I learned how to read,  I just took off.

Well, I'm really concerned about all the library budget cuts,  because for some people it's their lifeline. I recently did a talk at a major library and there were some homeless people there that were trying to get ahead.  And in order to get ahead they need to get on the Internet. And after the library was closed, they are putting their computer on the windowsill of the library to pick up the Wi-Fi signal, so like this one lady could get her homework done, so she could get an education and not be homeless. Well, if the library was open, she wouldn't have been putting her computer on the windowsill to get the Wi-Fi signal.  At least it was strong enough so that she could get it.  And I think that budget cuts for closing libraries, I think is just totally terrible.

I'm really concerned, kids that get labeled with mild autism, mild dyslexia, mild ADHD, not going out and becoming productive citizens, not learning things like work skills. I'm seeing too many kids today, get mild autism diagnosis, they're graduating high school never learn any work skills. They don't learn that discipline of getting up in the morning.

And we've got to work on developing a child's area of strength. I was a visual thinker. My ability in art was always encouraged. Another kid might be a little mathematician.  Well, if he's good at math, then let him go ahead and do the more difficult kinds of math. Don't hold him back.  Another kid's good at writing. We've got a build up on the strength areas.  Kids get different labels. Some of them have uneven skills, good at one thing, bad at something else and I want to build up on that area of strength, so they can turn it into a career that they're really going to like.

Right now, the project I'm working on right now is finishing up revising my academic livestock handling and transport book.  And that's my strictly, it's an academic book reviewing  scientific literature on livestock handling and transport.

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