Very often people have a perception that people with Autism are unable to learn new skills or be able to have the opportunity to succeed in life. In fact, this is untrue. People with autism do have the opportunity to succeed in life like everyone else. In this article, I will be introducing three people with autism that are successful and are well known to many and have truly inspired me.
Temple Grandin is someone that is widely known to professionals working with people with Autism. She plays a very important role in forming a greater understanding for people with Autism and sharing insights of Autism based on her personal experience. She is also well known to people in the livestock industry.
Temple Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts on the 29th August 1947. She was diagnosed as brain damaged when she was two years old but was subsequently formally diagnosed with Autism in her later years.
During her early years, Temple Grandin received therapy and started being able to talk at the age of four years old. She also mentioned that her nanny and teachers in school played a crucial role in her life. Now, she is well known for the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter as well as a strong advocate for people with autism. She maintained that Early Intervention is very important in helping people with Autism. Furthermore, having supportive teachers who are trained will help direct fixations which people with autism have towards a productive direction. This leads us to our next example, Satoshi Tajiri, who turned his quirky passion into a famous innovation enjoyed by people across the entire globe.
Satoshi Tajiri’s fixation was in catching and collecting insects as well as playing video games. Never did anyone imagine that his autism fixations would lead him to create Pokémon, bringing great success and fame.
In his younger years, Satoshi enjoyed exploring outdoors and spent most of his time collecting and studying insect’s behaviour and characteristics that he was nicknamed “Dr. Bug”. However, as he is growing up, places where he usually explored and catch insects gave way to modern developments. Thus, his passion in insects moved on to video games. During his teen years, he spent so much time on video games that he cut classes and failed his high school. His parents were worried and were unable to understand his fixation with video games. Nevertheless, their worries were short-lived as he eventually did make up classes and got his diploma. He partnered Ken Sugimoto, wrote and edited a video game fanzine, “Game Freak” with him. In the later years, they worked together to create and perfect the Pokémon that we know now.
Fast forward a few years later, Pokémon is a booming success and is showing no signs of slowing down. The success which Satoshi Tajiri have today is due to his unyielding pursuit in the things that he has passion in.
The story of Carly Fleischmann is probably one of the most inspiring stories that I have read. It also teaches and reminds me as a therapist to never undermine or judge a child’s ability and to see the potential in every child.
Carly Fleischmann was diagnosed with Autism, Oral- motor Apraxia and cognitive delay at the age of two years old. She received therapy at a young age to help her stand, walk learn basic self- help skills and to cope with her sensory issues. Even then, there were times when she may display behaviours that were uncontrollable and can be dangerous if she was not tightly monitored. When she was left unattended, her parents would find baby powder being emptied and peanut butter smeared on the furniture. These were some of the behaviours that she would display, and her parents were unable to understand why she would behave the way she does as she is unable to talk and thus will not be able to explain her behaviour.
When all hope seems lost, one day during a family trip ( Without Carly as she was placed under the care of her therapist), her father received a call from her therapist stating that Carly had communicated to her therapist using her communicative device stating that her teeth hurts. Both parents were sceptical and could not believe it until they saw it with their own eyes. Now, she is a public speaker through her computer and like Temple Grandin, she became a voice for the people with autism.
These inspiring stories reminds me of a quote from Temple Grandin, “I am different, but not less”. I feel that this quote will be able to serve as a daily reminder to all of us that autism does not prevent success. While we should understand and empathise with their struggles, we should not deprive them the opportunity to grow and learn. Despite having autism, they are as competent as you and me. As we cannot expect a fish to fly, but by providing a pond, the fish can swim as well as a bird can fly.
Written by Venezia