Not long ago I posted a video of a lecture by Temple Grandin. Temple is autistic, a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She is an icon in the Autistic Community. Her life has been a beacon and an inspirational story and recently her story was told in a biopic produced by HBO. She is the author of several books on autism and the autistic spectrum.
Yesterday I came across this amazing one-on-one interview with Temple. The video is a re-broadcast of an hour long intimate discussion with Temple about her life, her work and her journey with autism. If you are at all interested in the area of ASD you will want to watch this!
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As today is World Autism Awareness Day, I thought I’d highlight A new book by Australian author and mum Sally Thibault, whose son David, now 24 and studying at University, has Asperger’s Syndrome. Below is an interview with Sally and the story of “David’s Gift”
Credit : davidsgift.com.au: A new book called David’s Gift by Australian author Sally Thibault is a real-life story about her long struggle to cope with son David’s Asperger’s Syndrome – an autistic spectrum disorder. The book was released in mid March 2010 to help other parents facing challenging behaviours with children.
The message of the book is for everyone – that it’s not what happens to you in life that’s important, but how you handle it that matters.
Sally was a pioneering parent dealing with autistic spectrum disorder when it was unknown and first being diagnosed in Australia about 12 years ago. Now this complex neurological disorder is the most common developmental disorder in Australia. One in every 166 children in Australia has autism and that number has increased to one in every 91 children in the USA. Three out of every four are boys.Interview with Sally Thibault ABC Queensland 1st April 2010 Download
Already being touted as a must read for all parents, teachers and health care professionals, David’s Gift helps others understand the pain and emotions parents deal with as they navigate the challenges of having a child with ASD.
Thibault’s story is inspirational and offers hope to people from all walks of life, especially those with disabilities. The book reveals useful information about Asperger’s Syndrome and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), and gives parents real, tangible tools to assist them to come to terms with the diagnosis and create strategies to ensure their child grows to be a strong, self-actualised and confident young adult.
“When Asperger’s Syndrome first came into our lives it presented us with a challenge that, at the time, seemed sad, unfair and overwhelming. It is only now I can see that it was in fact an incredible gift,” said Mrs Thibault.
“As parents, we had to become the people we wanted David to be. What we learned about ourselves and who we became as people was David’s gift to us.”
“The book transcends the issue of autism and can be transferred to anyone’s life situation. The story has the potential to transform how people view the challenges they face, by helping readers see how those challenges are a gift offering them opportunity to grow and have a better life.”
Sally Thibault is a ‘wise mother’ of three children aged 24, 22 and 16, who has lived with autistic spectrum disorder for 24 years. She hopes her honest account of parenting a child with Asperger’s Syndrome will help other parents learn through her experiences.
When her eldest son David was a toddler, Sally knew he was different from other children. After searching for answers for many years, it wasn’t until David was 12 years old that he was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, in 1997.
“Back then, there wasn’t nearly as much information about Asperger’s as there is today, but judgements still haven’t changed in 12 years,” said Mrs Thibault. “One of the greatest challenges for children with ASD and their families is coping with a world that doesn’t accept difference very well.
As Barack Obama said: “My advice is to cultivate a sense of empathy – to put yourself in other people’s shoes – to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”
Asperger’s Syndrome is the mildest and highest function end of the autistic spectrum. People with Asperger’s find it difficult to understand social skills, often misunderstand the use of language and can be considered ‘obsessive’, focussing on one particular area of interest. People diagnosed with Asperger’s are generally intelligent, intense and self-focussed individuals who usually find success in a career that requires enormous amounts of attention to detail.
Steven Spielberg was diagnosed with Asperger’s as an adult. Today, David is following a similar career path and studying to be a digital video editor, which is perfect for his personality type.
Bill Gates is suspected to have Asperger’s Syndrome, along with Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and Ludwig van Beethoven. David’s Gift has parallel themes to the award-winning book and film, The Horse Boy – a true story about a father’s quest to heal his autistic son by traveling with horses through Mongolia.
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Jodi Picoult is the author of a number of topical novels including “My Sister’s Keeper” and the recently released “House Rules“, a murder-mystery in which the main character is Jacob, a young man with Aperger’s Syndrome. I have just finished reading this novel and thoroughly enjoyed it. Picoult’s understanding of ASD is extensive and well researched, although Jacob’s character probably represents a conglomerate of austistic features in one character. I wondered where she might have drawn her inspiration for the book’s protagonist. As the podcast below reveals, she has some personal experience. Thought it was interesting. Have a watch
Here’s a review of the book if you’re interested:
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- Picoult keys on a teen with Asperger’s (boston.com)
- Jodi Picoult’s ‘House Rules’: a novel about a family ruled by Asperger’s syndrome (seattletimes.nwsource.com)