When a family first faces the autism diagnosis it is natural for them to visualize a highlight reel of events, that may never occur. It is important however, to focus on the possibilities of what can be for children and adults with autism, and how the uniqueness of autism can be an advantage for many adults on the spectrum. Autism is not synonymous with failure; there are many individuals with autism who have gone on to economic self-sufficiency. One of the most well-know success stories is that of Temple Grandin.
Ms. Grandin’s life story is the subject of a new HBO movie, called Temple Grandin, chronicling Ms. Grandin’s struggles and success as she overcame the odds to earn a Ph.D in animal science from the University of Illinois, write half a dozen books, become an advocate for autism education, and work as a professor of animal science. The film premieres on HBO on Feb. 6.
Ms. Grandin often discusses her sensory issues, which are the reason that she ultimately invented the squeeze box or hug machine at the age of eighteen. This provides the deep pressure that provides relaxation to Ms. Grandin, along with many people with autism. Ms. Grandin’s unique perspective and skill-set have helped her to make outstanding contributions to the farmind and animal sciences communities as well as leading her to become a fervent advocate for others on the spectrum.
There are several professions that lend themselves well to the strengths that many people on the autism spectrum possess. Computer programming, video game design, computer animation and accounting are fields in which people on the spectrum have thrived. These areas of work often involve fewer social demands, and are highly visual among other characteristics that can lead to a successful career for a person with autism.
Companies like Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Disney hire people with autism to work in computer software and animation. Many authors, artists, poets and musicians are also on the autism spectrum. Wolfgang Mozart and Pablo Picasso are others that are also believed to be on the autism spectrum. An individual with autism who is not only an author and a poet but also revered as a philosopher is Tito Mukhopadhyay.
An estimated 92 percent of the U.S. population with autism is unemployed. It is imperative to emphasize the importance of children developing their special talents and unique gifts from a very young age in preparation for success in the workplace. Autism should not be viewed as a dead end. It should be seen as a unique path to a life that may look different, but can be just as fulfilling as that of a typical peer’s life.