TEMPLE GRANDIN: You know Einstein had a lot of autistic traits. I often wonder what would happen to Einstein today. He had no language till age 3. He would definitely have been diagnosed as autistic, not the milder Asperger's.
You know Einstein, when he wrote the most important paper in physics, was a patent clerk in a Swiss patent office. He was not a professor or anything like that. Would he be working in a convenience store today? I just don't know. I'm really concerned about that.
Now there are some nice books that are out about famous scientists and musicians and other famous people there were probably Aspergers or high-functioning autistic. One of them that's been out for a while is Asperger's and Self-Esteem, by Norm Ledgin. And then in my book, Thinking, in Pictures this would have been in 1995, I wrote about Einstein being autistic and van Gogh and Mozart.
There's a brand-new book that's just come out now called Genius Genes that also profiles scientists and other musicians and a lot of other famous people. These are great books to give a high school kid that's been teased in high school to realize, yeah, the nerds out there, the nerds of the world have done a lot of things.
I get concerned with a mild Asperger's diagnosis of kids getting held back. One time when I was at an autism meeting and a parent came up with a teenager with 150 IQ, and they wanted to put him on welfare because he was kind of a social dud. I said, look, they used to call those gifted. But the thing is, the skills may be uneven. He may be gifted in math, but he's going to need Special Ed in reading. Or he not be gifted art.
Sometimes there's teachers out in the community colleges that can really be helpful. And you often wonder, how do you find mentors. Talent attracts mentors. You need to be putting your work into a portfolio.
I was considered really weird when I first started out my cattle handling design business, but the way I sold jobs if I made really nice portfolios of pictures and drawings of jobs along with references. I sold my work rather than myself. Now you can do things on all these different web pages, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, all these things like this. Put a portfolio up there. But don't put something stupid up there that some employer is going to get into later. Put your very best math equations up there so people can go, wow, this person is really smart.
This is they NASA satellite assembly building. I went and visited this. Boy, I can tell you there's a lot of Asperger type of people working in there. And I like to call it the world's biggest sheltered workshop for the socially challenged. In fact Simon Baron-Cohen found that there's about 2 and 1/2 times more engineers in the family history of people with autism.
Well that's certainly true in my family history, because my grandfather on my mother's side was one of the co-inventors the automatic pilot for airplanes. And they worked on this in an old loft over the trolley car maintenance building.
We've got to work on preparing kids for employment. We need to start doing that when they're 10, 12 years old. Teenagers need to be having jobs. I think it's too bad that a lot of the paper routes are gone because those teach that responsibility.
Mentors. We've got to find mentors. Where do you find mentors? Mentors are attracted to talent. They see it in kids' mathematical equations or their artwork. A retired engineer may want to work with that child.
You've got to visit interesting places, science labs, construction sites, computer places, all kinds of things. Parents need to bring their trade journals into the school. Every industry, from banking to baking to computers to journalism, has its own trade journals. Bring those into the school so the students can look at all the interesting jobs that are out there. And then get subscriptions to things like The Wall Street Journal and Business Week. Wall Street Journal's got great material on giving people tips on how to behave at work.
Now this is just my family history. Father's side, verbal thinkers, a lot of Aspergers. Four generations of bankers and my MIT-trained engineer grandfather. Anxiety and depression. That's really common. Oftentimes in family histories you'll see some obsessive-compulsive disorder, sensory problems, visual thinking skills on the mother's side. We've got some food allergies on my father's side. You'll often see intellectual giftedness in the family histories of people on the spectrum.
We've got to get these students into these clubs, things like these Lego Mindstorms. I'd rather have students working on this than playing video games, because this teaches job-related skills. But these students have got to learn how to work in a team, where one person does the programming, somebody else builds a little robot, these turn-taking skills that needs to be taught young.
Let's look at all the educational resources that we can have out there, all the wonderful things that are online like Cornell CyberTower. MIT has got a great physics lecture that's now online for free. Technical schools, community colleges, there's lots of resources out there. Get creative.
There's the plant where I first started my career, the Swift plant in Arizona. And how did I get in there? I met the wife of their insurance agent, and she liked the hand-embroidered shirt I had. I was wearing a portfolio. I didn't even realize that I was wearing it.
Now a lot of people on the spectrum sometimes have problems with anger. And I got kicked out of high school for throwing a book at a girl who teased me. So how did I get over the anger thing? I had to switch from anger to crying. It might be easier for a lady than for a guy, but you don't lose your job over crying.
And I had places in the plant where I'd go hide when I'd get in a little fights. One plant had this big catwalk over the cattle yard. Another plant I used to go in the electric room. But I had places to go where they wouldn't see this. But that saved my job. See, the problem is I have problems with modulating emotion. They laugh really loud, cry, get angry. And I just had to switch it.
Let's look at jobs for the different kinds of minds. This is getting near the end of my talk. You know the fish will thinkers like me who think in photorealistic pictures, they can be really good at anything to do with graphic arts, anything to do with architecture and engineering drafting. Things like auto mechanics, computer network specialists. This is the person that puts all the hardware together.
All kinds of things like photographer, computer troubleshooter, equipment designing, all kinds of handcraft designs. I know one lady who's on the spectrum. She makes jewelry. I know another person that has a business troubleshooting problems with industrial robotics systems.
Another thing on the job thing is most of these jobs here have a low barrier of entry. People ask me, why didn't you become a doctor? Well, I couldn't pass the prerequisites. Medical school would have been no problem at all, but it was doing prerequisites like calculus and things like that.
Sometimes I get a little frustrated. I'm actually good at solving medical problems. I had some medical problems I don't have time to discuss now. The doctors couldn't solve, but after two weeks on the internet I had them solved and I had them solved in a very simple manner.
How about the music and math minds? They're going to be good as math teachers, scientific research, music, chemistry. Think about it. These are all things words patterns. Computer programming a really, really big field. Engineering. Statistics. Working for an insurance company and figuring out risk. Then there's a thing that banks have called derivatives. I don't exactly know what they are, but I know they hire mathematicians for this. You just have to look into all the different things out there.
How about the verbal guys, the language specialists? I've seen a lot of journalists, both print and radio journalists, that I know are language specialists. Translators, library jobs, indexing books, anything to do with record keeping. We've got to work on building up the talent area into things that can give the person a good life.
And I want to thank everybody for listening today. It's been wonderful to come here via Cornell CyberTower. Thank you so much.
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Join Dr. Temple Grandin as she offers new insights on life with autism and how this unique perspective has helped her to develop award-winning techniques for handling livestock.
This video is part 4 of 8 in the Autism & Animal Behaviors series.