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Temple Grandin offers tip to help care for kids with autism

April 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
At 2, she was misdiagnosed as "brain damaged." By 4 she finally learned to speak. She got her first job at 13, and her master's degree by 28. Now Temple Grandin is a best-selling author and scientist. She shares her tips on how to care for kids with autism at every stage.

There are different ends of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

"One end of the spectrum you're going to have a brilliant person who's running an important company out in Silicon Valley; the other end of the spectrum you're going to have somebody who's going to remain non-verbal," said Temple Grandin, an animal scientist and author with autism.

Grandin says no matter where you start, for all infants early intervention is key. One study found kids placed in intensive programs before their third birthday improved their IQ by 18 points, changing the severity of their diagnosis.

For toddlers and young kids, one of the most overlooked problems is sensory overload, from loud sounds to lighting.

"Fluorescent lighting will flicker like a disco tech, flash on and off like a strobe light, and that is one of the worst problems we can have in the classroom," said Grandin.

Avoid that by using 100-watt lamps for the child's desk. Grandin also recommends using pale colored glasses and printing homework on pastel paper.

Students with ASD typically do best with routines. Outside the classroom teens should find interests that create structure and repetition to help them develop job skills.

"Paper routes are the best thing that ever happened to 13-year-olds because you've got to do it every day," said Grandin.

Regardless of where you start on the spectrum, "Einstein would be labeled autistic today. He had no language until he was 3 years old," said Grandin.

A little extra attention can go a long way.

You can take part in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks 5K Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Registration is free and the event starts at 8 a.m. The walk begins at 10 a.m. The event helps raise money and bring awareness for autism research You can become part of effort to change the future for all who struggle in the fight against autism.

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