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Temple Grandin: Don't shelter autistic children, limit video games




Temple Grandin at HBO's 2010 post-Emmy Awards reception at the Pacific Design Center.
Temple Grandin at HBO's 2010 post-Emmy Awards reception at the Pacific Design Center.
Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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"I'm seeing too many kids that in the 1950s, they just called them geeks and nerds, and today they own businesses." — Temple Grandin

According to a survey by the Institute for Community Inclusion and the University of Massachusetts, only a third of people aged 22-30 with any mental disability have a job ... less than half the rate for people with no disability, and young people with autism fared worst of all, according to a study by the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.

Reversing that trend is the goal of an event on May 20th at Club Nokia. It's called "Temple Grandin and Friends," and features the animal behavioralist who is the face of autism for many of us, American Idol's James Durbin, and others.

In a phone interview, Temple Grandin told us overprotective parenting is one part of the problem. 

"Let's say you go to a restaurant, the parents order the meal for them, instead of having the child order the meal. They do not know how to shake hands with people. Kids used to have paper routes in my generation, and I know those are all gone, but we need to figure out paper route substitutes for middle school kids — like at a church or a community center. They could be ushers, they could set up chairs, they could help with the food ... volunteer at animal shelters ... as long as it's outside the home and it's on a schedule." — Temple Grandin

Grandin says parents also need to help their kids find comfortable niches — away from video games. "I am hearing too often," she says, "'He's 21 and I can't get him out the basement.'" She recalls that in "high school I was teased horribly and bullied, and the only place I was not teased was shared interests like horseback riding, electronics, and model rockets ... That's where I got peers."

Grandin, a subject of neurologist and author Oliver Sacks' "An Anthropologist on Mars," says that all she wants is "to see kids like me be successful ... stay out of trouble with the law, go out and get a career and a job that you're really gonna like."