People with autism or any mental disorders are not usually expected to accomplish remarkable feats in life. Every day is a constant struggle, and even for people without a mental disorder, many obstacles can come in the way of goals.
However, mental disorders don’t always have to be limiting, and many times they become the reason to push oneself harder and not give in to an inner struggle and the mind and body’s limitations.
Temple Grandin, 62, is an example of a person with autism who didn’t accept defeat and doesn’t use her supposed limitations as an excuse to put off her goals.
One accomplishment of Grandin’s is her education. She is an animal science professor at Colorado State University and also has her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois. Besides education, she is a spokesperson for autism and designed livestock handling equipment.
“It all started out in my aunt’s ranch,” Grandin said. “You’ve got to get exposed to interesting things.”
Grandin said her autism has changed over time.
“The thing about being autistic, if you keep getting out and keep doing things, you do change for the better,” she said. “You gradually get better.”
The early symptoms she showed are common for people with autism, including lack of speech, repetitive behavior and constant tantrums.
Right now she mainly has anxiety and panic attacks under control with medication.
“My anxiety was so bad it was like being in a constant state of fear all the time,” Grandin said.
Some things that make her feel better include exercise and eating well.
“I found that I had to do exercise, that medication alone wasn’t enough,” Grandin said. “If I don’t do exercise, then I have problems with stress…and not being able to sleep.”
She said there are a couple important techniques to use for people with autism, in order to improve their experiences.
Early intervention is important, and getting a lot of one-on-one teaching at a young age (two and a half to three years) helped Grandin.
“When I got older and I was having a lot of problems with high school, getting teased, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of my science teacher,” she said.