Whether you’re a new professional or a parent who just received a diagnosis for their child, the strategies, in Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore’s new book, are practical and empowering. Today I am talking with them about this latest book, Navigating Autism: 9 Mindsets For Helping Kids on the Spectrum, and all of the interesting information they share.
During this interview we came to understand and see over and over that autism is truly such a huge spectrum. Each child presents differently, has different abilities, skills, and interests, and are even very different thinkers. These differences are going to affect how they learn and how parents and professionals see their diagnosis and work with them.
We discuss controversial topics including medicating children with autism, common medical problems associated with autism, standardized testing, and the use of ABA therapy. Temple highlights problems she is seeing in today’s world with the over-medicating of children and the major side-effects that can occur.
Does this mean all medication is bad for your child with autism? Absolutely not. We talk about the big discussions that need to take place before introducing psychotherapeutic medications. However, we also highlight the importance of diagnosing physical illnesses and conditions that are common in autistic individuals, and treating them.
Can you measure a child’s abilities and needs in a one-size-fits-all test? Debra talks about all the details that really matter when having your child evaluated. Are there any sensory issues affecting their performance? How did the child’s morning go? There are so many variables that can be a barrier to a child being their best self, that are often not taken into account. On my checklist, we ask a lot of these questions because I too believe all of these details are so important.
Something I have come back to time and time again is the controversy behind ABA. The Turn Autism Around Approach is ABA, and ABA is a science that is at work all the time. Temple shares her insight on the why behind a lot of people’s disapproval of ABA and the reality that ABA has changed a lot to become what it is today. For Temple, she believes that a happy kid is a sign of good therapy, and I agree!
The mindsets in Temple and Debra’s new book are truly practical to fully develop the potential in any child.
Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore on Turn Around Autism
Dr. Temple Grandin: Temple Grandin, PhD, is one of the world’s most respected experts in the fields of autism and animal behavior and livestock handling. She is an internationally best-selling author, and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. In 2020, she was honored as a Top Ten College Professor in America. In 2010, Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, named her in the “Heroes” category.
Dr. Debra Moore: Debra Moore, PhD, is a psychologist who has worked extensively with children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum. She was the Founder and Director of Fall Creek Counseling Associates. She devotes her time to volunteering and writing. This is her second project with Dr. Temple Grandin, co-authoring The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults in 2016.
- How can Temple and Debra’s mindsets help anyone work with kids on the spectrum?
- Does autism need medication?
- Should I give my child with autism medication?
- What medical conditions are associated with autism?
- Can I trust standardized tests for my child with autism?
- How important early intervention is and how it can be done at home
- Turn Autism Around- ABA Help for Professionals and Parents
- Workshops – Sign up for a free workshop online for parents and professionals
- One page assessment form
- Interview with Dr. Temple Grandin on How to Turn Autism Around
- Can You Predict How a 2-year-old with Autism Will Do at Age 8 or 18?
- Autism and IQ Scores | Supporting Children with Intellectual Disabilities
- Autism Medication with Dr. Michael Murray, Psychiatrist
- Tameika Meadows from I Love ABA on Finding Good ABA Therapy
- Autism Grandparents: How to Be Supportive
- Autism Success Story with Michele C.
- Navigating Autism: 9 Mindsets For Helping Kids on the Spectrum
Transcript for Podcast Episode: 147
Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore on their Latest Book Navigating Autism
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
Guests: Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore
Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast, episode number one hundred and forty seven. Today I have two guests, including world renowned autism expert Dr. Temple Grandin, who is also in podcast number one hundred and seventeen. Dr. Grandin and the coauthor Dr. Debra Moore authored this book Navigating Autism Nine Mindsets for Helping Kids on the Spectrum. And I am interviewing both Temple and Debra on the show today to discuss the book and the nine mindsets needed. Dr. Temple Grandin is one of the most respected experts in the field of autism and animal behavior and livestock handling. She's an internationally known bestselling author and a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Temple also wrote A beautiful forward for my book Turn Autism Around, an action guide for parents of young children with early signs of Autism, which was published in Twenty Twenty One. Dr. Debra Moore is a psychologist with over three decades of experience working with children, teens and adults on the spectrum. They do a great job in writing their book, and it's a very interesting interview today with Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore. So let's get to the episode.
Welcome to the Turn Autism Around podcast for both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed and lead happier lives. And now your host, autism mom, behavior analyst, and bestselling author Dr. Mary Barbera.
Mary: OK, so thank you so much, Temple and Debra, for joining me. It's going to be a real treat to have you both on the show. So thanks again for joining us.
Debra: Thanks for having us.
Temple: It's great to be here.
The Story Behind Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Debra Moore's Latest Book:
Mary:Yeah. So we'll start with Temple. You've been just a pioneer in the field. You wrote the foreword for my new book, Turn Autism Around. I've met you in person. I've seen you speak up. Just, yeah, I've read your books, saw the movie that depicted your life on HBO. You've just been such a pioneer. So what made you want to write yet another book? I don't know how many books you've written, but it's been a ton. So what made you want to write this book called Navigating Autism: Nine Mindsets for Helping Kids on the Spectrum?
Temple: Well, one of the things is the publisher approached us. That was one of the reasons.
Mary: OK. And and how does this book differ than your other books?
Temple: Well, I think this book is more aimed at the parent as a newly diagnosed child, they're really upset about that. And one of Debra's terminologies that I really like is label locking. You know, you need to look at the whole child, not just the label. And I even see MD's one. That kid has something medically wrong with them. Just, Oh, it's just autism. They're behaving badly. When in actuality he had is behaving badly because he had acid reflux that hurt like a whole lot or some other medical problem that should have been treated. So even a regular medical doctors have a tendency to label locked and not treat a regular medical problem that would cause pain that anybody could have.
Mary: Yeah, yeah. And I know we're going to that is one of the mindsets, the whole medical discussion, which I am all about. Love that topic. As a registered nurse and a behavior analyst and a mom, I'm all about the medical thing. But let's hold off on that thought. So, Debra, on this, I think, is your second book or project with Temple, is that right?
Debra: That's right.
Mary: Yeah. So how was it working with Temple the first time and and in this time and must have been a real honor.
Debra: It's an honor and it's a blast. I think, you know, for this book, we wanted to take a step back and not talk about just one or two specifics or one or two treatment strategies, but we wanted to really speak to everybody. Speak to parents. Speak to clinicians, speak to educators. And no matter what profession they're coming from and no matter what intervention they might be using, these mindsets are sort of an umbrella for all of those. And in fact, you know, I had someone listening to me speak about the books and they were a teacher and they said, Gosh, these mindsets really apply to all kids. And I think that's really true that they applied to all people. We talk specifically about how they apply to kids on the spectrum, but they can be used for all of us. We just want to bring out the potential in every kid. And that's not happening for a lot of our autistic kids and that gets Temple and I, and I think I could speak for Temple a little bit that gets us upset, that's kind of our mission to let kids and adults be the best person they can be. Never underestimate them.
Mary: Yeah, I love that. And you know, I have a very similar philosophy. I'm always like, Let's step back, look at the whole forest. Let's not get too close, you know, I mean, the spectrum is so huge and there is so much infighting and controversy. And I mean, the parents of newly diagnosed kids or kids showing signs with autism that are on horrendous wait lists. I mean, they enter and they're like, OK, you know, ABA is, you know, the most scientifically proven therapy and insurance is going to pay, and then they hear ABA is abuse. And maybe, you know, and I mean, they're already dealing with so much like, like you said, Temple, you know, the parents are upset and then you have people online that say, What are you upset? Stop being upset. Autism is a gift, and it's like you have a two year old, you know, who's not talking, not potty trained. So how do you respond to people like that Temple?
Why Might Parents Be Upset After an Autism Diagnosis? How Do You Respond?
Temple: Well, this is the problem. I see when the kids are real little, I look really horrible when I was two and a half three years old. What if you get good early intervention? Then they kind of move into three categories of fully verbal. I mean, Elon Musk recently came out that he was on the autism spectrum. I always thought he was autistic, but I couldn't say it until I feel like, he told Saturday Night Live. Right at the other end of the spectrum, you might have someone who has epilepsy non-verbal and may even have some movement problems along with autism. So you have this huge spectrum that's given the same name now as a visual thinker that doesn't make much sense to me because they're so different. But the problem is when kids three, the things you do with three are all the same. And then they then if you have good treatment done, you get them talking and they've got to get on these kids early. I do a lot of talks and very low income areas with no services, and I get asked, What do we do if there's no services? You can't wait two years to get a diagnosis. If you've got a two year old, that's not talking, you got to work with him now. Mm. Right now, like all of the church and get some grandmother volunteers as a mom can't do it all. Yes. Then, of course, I like for that, like my way, I see it walk, which just are real, practical, how-to for navigating autism. I think where it fits in is we got the mom had a young kid diagnosed. She's really upset right now. This book kind of put it in perspective where my way I see a book is sort of more how to if you when you actually go to work with the kid, what do you do with them? Well, it's two different things.
Mary: Yeah, yeah. And I liked what you said, Debra, about like, you can use this book no matter what kind of therapy you're doing. You know, if you're doing Therapy X, if you're doing ABA, you're doing floor time. It doesn't matter. You still want to be positive. You want to do a whole child evaluation. You want to, you know, support the parents. So that is one of the big mindsets or big ideas in the book is that you're going to look at evaluating the whole child. So can you speak a little bit on that?
Temple: Well, let's look for me. When I was three, I didn't have any art ability. But by the time I got to be maybe second grade, third grade, that's when my art abilities started to show up. Or maybe another kid might have math ability. And then you want to work on developing that strength. Now, right now, I want to differentiate between a strength and interest, something like visual thinking. I'm an object visualizing things in pictures. You can watch that on HBO movie Temple Grandin that shows up perfectly. I love that visual thinking would be a skill where an interest in horses, that's an interest or an ability and math. That's an ability, an interest in cars, that's of interest. I'm finding a lot of parents are mixing up those two things. Then, of course, the word thinkers good with words. OK. They might be interested in medieval history and can for a lot of some of the verbal autistic thinkers that really like history, which would be an interest.
Mary: OK, I like that. How about you, Debra? What can you add about the child?
Skills, Abilities, Interests, and Thinking. What Do These Mean for Autism?
Debra: When you're doing an evaluation, I think one of the things to remember is a lot of the therapist are not visual thinkers like Temple is. A lot of us tend to be verbal thinkers. We also tend to be more on the social end of the continuum. And so we have to remember who we're working with and make adjustments. So again, it's that idea that there are general mindsets, but each child is unique. Each child is individual, so each evaluation should be individual. And we're often taught no matter what our field is, whether it's physical therapy or occupational therapy or clinical social worker psychology or psychiatry. We're also taught a standard one size fits all evaluation for autism and autism is just too broad, and it's very deficit based. Our medical approach to autism. So when we do an evaluation or when we do a treatment, or just when we interact with a kid, we need to get out of that model. We need to get out of that deficit model and we need to intentionally try to tease out strengths. And then and and you do that in an evaluation by by sort of coloring outside the lines sometimes and giving that child like a visual thinker like tempo an opportunity, for instance, to do some drawing in an evaluation that's going to get them more motivated. Their attention is going to sustain better. They're going to perform at their higher level. And that's what you want to get.
Temple: You might have another kid who's a mathematics kid. And one of the mistakes is made with that kid. If you keep making the baby boring math and then you wonder, why is behavior problem? And oftentimes, math and music goes together is one of my books, the autistic brain. I discuss the science behind the different kinds of minds as actual science shows that you can have an object visualizes like me, you can have the visual spatial mathematics or a word thinker. The science behind that. There's more new research that backs that up, and there's a tendency to just look at deficits. And there's an old term I absolutely despise called splinter skills, where they would spend well, they would look at the math ability or the drawing ability as kind of like a skill is really not all that important. You call something a splinter. That wouldn't be very important. It makes me very.
Debra: And that might, and that might be a primary focus. You know, Temple, some of your skills could be called splinter skills, but they've been the primary focus of of your life and have contributed to the to our society in amazing ways.
Temple: Well, usually my skills and visual thinking is help in my work with livestock. Now I've got some ears. I can't do algebra, I've never passed an algebra class and I got out of that to grow food in the college system in 67. But I'm concerned that something like an algebra requirement for keeping a kid out of an auto mechanics class. Visual thinkers are often good at mechanics, and I work with all kinds of talented tradespeople. They had maybe 20 patents that were visual thinkers, and they were not the good students. And it's a tendency that I think that that kind of thinking is not so valuable when they came.
Mary: I do have another podcast, I actually have Temples podcast. I interviewed her. That's 117. We can link that in the show notes. And also I have a whole podcast on assessment and I have a one page, very easy form that looks at because what like when Temple said, you know, a three year old may not show ability...
Temple: You won't see it in a four year old, I get asked all the time right, if you can tell what kind of thinker a three year old is. There are a few exceptions, but usually you cannot. Mine did not show up until more like the second and third grade, right? Seven and eight. I can remember a Valentine. I painted when I was five and it was just little kid scribble art and I loved doing it. But there was nothing wonderful about it.
Mary: Yeah. So with young children, that's why I think this form is really good because it looks at safety issues. Are they running out in front of cars? Are they, you know, it looks at, are they all medications? Do they have a diagnosis? Do they have allergies? Do they? Are they on a special diet? Do they still use a bottle or a pacifier, which could affect talking? And then we get into talking and following directions and socialization. It's just one page that can be done very quickly. We can link that in the show notes as well.
Autism and Medication:
Temple: But these other big problems about medication kids are on. It is just awful. Yeah, I mean, you might have a young kid on five or six meds, and then when you talk to the parents, you find out no thought went into any one of these prescriptions, they were just writing them. And now I just heard a horror story. This is a guy that's in his teens now. They put him on one drug is now monstrously overweight, got diabetes, and it gave him another drug that messed up his ability to do math. And he should have stopped taking it immediately. And insurance companies said they wouldn't pay for a different drug, so wrecked his math abilities, now he's fat and diabetic. This is two days ago at a meeting I ran into this. This is now. And the kid was on Medicaid. Mm-Hmm. Just horrible.
Mary: And as a parent...
Temple: He's on a better drug now. And I said, you need to just get the algebra book out and keep trying, like rehabbing a stroke patient. He said it was slowly coming back. Wow. But this is just a horror story. I just heard they come up to me afterwards. I hugged them and then he was crying and I said, You just got to keep working and hopefully you can get the algebra back.
Mary: Wow. Yeah. And as a parent of a child who, well, now he's an adult, but when he was little, you know, when you try, you med. If and when you try a med... And you have a child that can't communicate efficiently, you can't tell if they're having side effects. And so, yeah, so I did a podcast interview with Lucas, a psychiatrist who was also a dad of a young man with autism, and we'll link that on the show notes. That's one of my favorite episodes because we talk about, like what you're saying, Temple, that the overuse of medications and how to tell there is a really good testing now available to show that, like for Lucas, as many of these meds would cause obesity and...
Temple: This is really obese. I mean, I can't. There's others against meds because I'm thinking in pictures. Yeah, I describe my experiences taking one little antidepressant. That's one little drug, which worked. Yes, it worked. And and if you're interested in that and I took it as a young adult, not as a child way to make drugs given out to kids. And if you're interested in it, I recommend reading a book because I don't want any misunderstanding about meds. I went to a very good veterinary conference on medications for docs. I use a lot of Prozac and president, and it was very cautious. You try one thing at a time. You don't use Magic Dogs straitjackets, and I use that term what it was trying one thing at a time. It does not replace taking a dog out, exercising and playing with it. It was a very good presentation. I think a bunch of MDs need to listen to that presentation, very careful approach, trying one thing at a time and know your dogs locked up in the house all day and crazy and you better do something about that. You don't just treat that with meds. Yeah, it's the same principle. Same exact principle.
Mary: Absolutely. And one of your mindsets is no medical conditions associated with autism. So in addition to being careful and not, you know, just accepting medications for a young child and you know, and really working with your practitioners to try to get strategies in place, you know, so that you can tell that it is working.
Temple: On, you know, those tend to be a lot more physical problems like gastrointestinal issues. Allergies tend to be more common with food sensitivities. There are some things do tend to be more common in autism and those need to be treated. Yeah, when I'm talking about meds, I'm talking psychiatric meds. I'm not talking about treating acid reflux.
Mary: OK, so let's talk about the difference. OK, so mindset four is the medical conditions associated with autism. This is in your book now.
Temple: That is the medical conditions that have nothing to do with autism. OK, so people that have autism are more likely to have gastrointestinal issues. So that's well documented in the literature. I have skin problems. That's another thing. In fact, genomic analysis done on me showed my skin problems. It showed why I'm missing all those teeth, the anxiety problems. Then when it came to the autism genes, it's so embedded in the same genes that make the brain big that they're not going to find them that a few risk genes. It's all won't find them the same genes that make the brain big.
Mary: So then the Mindset five is no these psychiatric conditions associated with autism. And in my situation, we were, you know, early on we were trying to treat like sleep problems with medications. We were trying to treat agitation with medications, you know, so a lot of times it is kind of. All tangled up, and in fact, Lucas is on a cardiac med, which really has helped him in terms of his autonomic nervous system dysfunction to settle him down. So it is all....
Temple: And that cardiac meds are much safer. Med the med should have the worst side effects are the antipsychotics. They have the worst side effects. Yeah. Cardiac Med is much, much lower side effects. The other thing exercise is very important for me. Hmm. A lot of these kids aren't getting enough exercise. And then in our previous book, The Loving Push, one of the big things we emphasized was getting the kids off all the electronics and the video games. And the research is very clear. Autistic kids get more addicted to video games than regular kids. We've got to get this under control and Silicon Valley parents out in Silicon Valley, they restrict the video games. They know how addictive they've made them.
Mary: That's interesting. And that the latest book about Push, Debra, you were involved with that book as well.
Debra: Yes, The Loving Push.
Temple: We had a big chapter in there on the whole video game addiction problem, and that book came out a little while ago. But all the new research coming out bad. In fact, in China right now, they're they're very concerned about kids getting addicted to video games and that they played it for an hour, the kicking them off. They don't want their future people addicted to video games. Yeah.
Mary: So, Debra, what what can you add in terms of the different mindsets? We covered the evaluation of the whole child. Of course, we're just skimming this, these mindsets. So you need to read the book and navigating autism. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but it is very interesting the parts I have read. What about the overlap between the medical conditions and the psychiatric conditions and just trying to sort through that. Are the chapters heavy in reference material or is it just like big ideas to think about?
Debra: There's three parts. One is reference materials, literature study results. The other is questionnaires for parents or clinicians kind of checklists to go through to help guide decision making. And the other is real or hypothetical examples so that you can really see how it plays out with different children.
Temple: Well you get a lot of anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder is often, what they call a Cold War, but I just hate that term. Really morbid thought.
Mary: It sounds deadly.
Debra: And what you were saying is so true. It's it's never simple. It's never one thing clear cut. That's not the way the body works, number one. And autism surely doesn't work that way. So you really do need to tease things out. And that's another part of the book that we repeat is that team members need to be communicating with each other because depending on your profession, you're going to see through a certain filter, a certain lens, and you're going to overemphasize that. So if you're the psychiatrist, you're going to overemphasize medicine. And so we've got to communicate so that everybody's input goes into the child and we don't get skewed in one direction because it is complex. It is made up of lots of ingredients. And there's not just going to be one medical condition or one psychiatric condition associated with the child in 99 percent of the cases, it's going to be more than one.
Temple: Normal common minor depression, OCD and anxiety, because my anxiety has been controlled for the last 40 years with just one little medication. But I kind of in horror think about what if I'd been born 20 years later? All the drugs I could have been on that could have messed up my thinking, this patient I just heard about and they put him on an anti psychotic. I think we'll leave out the names of the drugs. I'm just crashing the whole thing. But the first one made him fat and diabetic, and the second one wrecked his ability to do math. That's real serious. And this is a guy late teens and this is going on right now. This was two days ago.
Standardized Testing and Evaluations:
Mary: You do have in the book page, sixty five word of caution about standardized testing, and I know I've I've done a video blog on IQ and autism. My son does have IQ below 70, which. You know, is what it is, I mean, he needs 24-7 supervision, and in the end adding that diagnosis of of intellectual disability actually provided in the past more care. Now it's getting a little bit. But you do write about a caution and I know there's a lot of debate whether you should even test kids with autism in terms of IQ and other standardized testing.
Debra: Well, if you're going to test them, you need to be aware of some things. You need to be aware of their verbal abilities and use appropriate instruments. You need to be aware of sensory environmental factors that may be affecting their performance. You need to be aware of what happened the morning of the testing evaluation. Are they really in a state that they're ready to be their best self? And those things tend to not get as much attention as I would like to see them get. So that's why we had a whole chapter on evaluation.
Mary: Yeah, and I did skim through that and it's very good. And it, you know, while my like one page assessment is really a quick and easy, you do provide like a lot of things to think about, like who brought the child in and how are they describing the situation and how is the child, you know, interacting with the environment and things like that. But I mean, you can tell that you have three decades of psychology and psychologist background, Debra, that you really bring that into the book to to think about like really a lot more detail than most books.
Debra: Yeah. Good. I'm glad.
Good ABA Creates Happy Kids:
Mary: Yeah, well, you have to have squabbles everywhere, you know, and I feel like the the online space and in the autism community especially, there's a lot of squabbles and fighting and differences of opinion.
Temple: You get into this whole mess with ABA right now. And I can understand the old advocates that are on the spectrum. People my age, people maybe 50, maybe forty five hating it because they were subjected to some really awful ABA where they were driven to sensory overload. But what worries me at all is just on this last trip is you've got young advocates, maybe in the early 20s going anti-ABA and they don't even know what they're talking about. Right? And this is the problem they get on social media. They haven't been out visiting places. I want to a very good ABA place in Iowa just a few days ago. So a fabulous teacher there who is on the spectrum and he wants these kids, they know how to work with them. Yeah. And you know, I could just see it.
Mary: Yeah, I did. The Turn Autism Around approach is ABA, but it's also verbal behavior. My experiences as a nurse, as a mom, as a BCBA. So I did a podcast interview on four myths and truths about ABA will put that in the show notes. I just did another podcast interview with Tameika Meadows all about how to spot bad ABA and how to get to the ABA. And like Debra said, I mean, ABA is a science of changing behavior. Whether or not you love ABA, hate ABA or you think you're using ABA, ABA is operating all around you, even if you're using something that you're considering, something not ABA.
Temple: Well it's ABA that if you speed the police give you a speeding ticket, that's ABA.
Mary: Right, right. That's one of the principles. But you know, there is child friendly, positive ABA, and that's what I do. That's what the Turn Autism Around podcast is all about. So we just need to keep, you know, saying the same thing. We're all looking, whether it's your book, my book, any any information I'm providing here on this podcast, we're looking to help people move in a positive direction to evaluate the whole child, to make a plan to support parents whenever possible so that everybody can be as safe, as independent, and as happy as possible throughout their lives.
Temple: The other thing that has to be recognized in a sensory issues, some of the old ABA just ignored sensory issues and drove people into painful sensory overload. So I always ask parents, Is your child improving? I'm talking a little kid here, a three year old getting more speech, getting more skills like brushing and using utensils. And that's good. The other thing is your kid on like going to therapy, and if you're not, he's going to therapy. I just don't think it's normal.
Mary: We want the kids to be running to the table or at least walking eagerly to learn. We don't call it work. It's learning time. It's fun time. It's playtime. We want kids. I'm glad you brought that up Temple. We want kids to be happy. Not happy when they're 10. Happy all along the whole time. And oh sure, you know a child may cry here or there, but I want happy. I don't want crying if they're crying, if they're biting, if they're hitting that's not autism, that is lack of the right interventions.
Temple: Well, the thing is is a good teacher knows how to push. One push you can push harder than another one, depending upon how sensory sensitive they are. What's happening now is you've got young advocates that are just jumping on the bandwagon to bash ABA and they don't even know what's going on. The old advocates, I can fully understand where they're coming from because they were subjected to bad ABA.
Mary: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it is a challenge, but just like everything else, we'll get through it. And I think people like you, Debra, and of course, you Temple for many decades have been pioneering the way for positive treatment. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, what the ages doesn't matter. We're just trying to get to a better place, whatever that means, and turn things around to make the person more independent and happy.
How Has the Pandemic Impacted the Autism Community?
Mary: How has the pandemic impacted the autism community? We've done a few video blogs specifically on the pandemic and how to get kids to wear masks. I just did a video blog on that we can link you. But like, I know, it's changed everybody's life and really any thoughts on on the pandemic? And did you put the pandemic in your book? Because I know I I did not talk about the pandemic in my book because I was writing it. Were you writing it during the pandemic too?
Debra: We did we had a very wise publisher who asked for a whole separate section, and I'm really, really glad that she did. The pandemic has had a significant negative impact on a lot of autistic kids and their families. Their parents are stressed out, resources aren't there. Therapists can't come into the home the way they used to. So I think unfortunately there's going to be a lot of Catch-Up that needs to be played as things return to normal, hopefully next year or whenever. And there are kids who are going to have regressed now. The more that a family had the resources to be able to keep that kid involved or to find some alternative activities, even if they weren't structured and formal, then the more that kid would be able to keep developing. But I think some kids just kind of stalled out.
Temple: Well you can't work with little kids on those, that just doesn't work. Now, the the thing that I found that helped me is make sure I got up every morning, showered and dressed for work by 7:00. That helped a lot. OK. Hang around in jammies. Absolutely not.
Mary: Or dress from the top up, which many of us do.
Temple: I have to say that my best pair of pants are not on right now, but I do have pants on, they are not the things I sleep in. But I'll admit they're not the best ones. I'm going to wear much better ones when I teach my class at school tomorrow.
Mary: When you're in person. Yes. Yes, definitely.
Temple: I've worn some shoes that were really pretty bad. Yeah. On. That's better than I actually do not avoid a lot when I say, get dressed. Yes, I have shoes on the old ones, but I have em on. Again, it's not the stuff I sleep in. And I think that's important. Yeah. I don't wear my best stuff on the bottom half only on the top half.
Mary: I think a lot of parents are at least getting like parents of young children. Temple, where I agree it's really hard to. It's impossible to do Zoom just with a little too.
Temple: You can't do Zoom with little kids that does not work well,
Mary: But you can do Zoom if you train the parents over Zoom and you can do Zoom and you can watch them. And a lot of...
Temple: You can do that.
Mary: And they made all kinds of progress, you know, because parents are learning through books like yours and courses and parents are being empowered. I mean, just because the pandemic really highlighted the need, no matter what the age the parent is the one at home holding the stuck together. As much as anyone.
Temple: The problem is, you know, you've got single moms, you've got low income moms, they just can't do it all themselves. Mm-Hmm. And this is where you get a grandmother to come in. You know, you set up kind of a quarantine pod and get somebody to come in and work with the kid. And somebody is going to be careful in terms of, you know, picking up COVID and bringing it in. But a lot of these moms have got to get some help. Yeah, you know, they've just got to it's just too much.
Temple: Yeah. And two podcasts I think we should put in the show notes one is with Grandma Diane, who last year she joined my course before COVID, but she really three days a week. You know, she really turned things around. And then also with Michelle C, who got the diagnosis right before COVID hit. COVID hit, everything was canceled. No, not even a Zoom call was offered and made all kinds of progress on her own, so we can link those on the show notes. But parents, I think you know your book does a good job. I haven't obviously read the whole thing, but does a good job of like just you can do it no matter like Temple said. You're a single mom or you come from a family without resources. There are ways to learn how to put one foot in front of the other and to get help.
Temple: What I tell the families where there's no formal resources. We've got to work on things in the neighborhood, like getting some grandmother volunteers to come in and work with them with a young child. OK, got older kids maybe have a class and fixing lawn mowers or an art class. And much more antsy to talk about, see other people. It's about how they feel like when I listen to country music on the radio, it's all about their romances. You'll notice a few songs about work. Those tend to be my favorite songs, but I'm. It's it's like what turns on a kind of a techie person. It's interesting stuff you do. It's and people have to realize my mindset is different, like when spacewalks went up and docked with the space station, I geeked out on q two and a half hour live feed of the docking. That is kind of stuff I find interesting.
Mary: Temple, you have some rules for a successful adulthood. What are the rules?
Temple: One of the biggest mistakes I'm saying. We're doing a good job with little kids. A lot of little kids. But then when they get to be the teenage years, we're not doing a good job in many cases on life skills, things like shopping, things like learning how to work. I see too many moms that don't want to let go and have their kids learn how to use money, learn how to shop, learn how to drive. And the biggest one is not learning how to work. They need to start learning working skills, chores when they're little, volunteer jobs when they're like 11 to replace the paper route and then it's on to real jobs. And we need to make sure they're not shoved into too much multitasking or too chaotic a job. And that's what we need to be doing. We're not doing anywhere near enough on the work front.
Mary: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. So the book is navigating autism. It just came out September 2021. But before I let you go, so you can get this on Amazon or wherever books are sold. And before I let you guys go, I like to end my podcast the same way with guests. Part of my podcast goals are not to just help the kids, but also to help parents and professionals be less stressed and lead happier lives. So Debra, we'll start with you. Do you have any stress management tips or self-care strategies that you use?
Debra and Temples Advice for Parents:
Debra: Don't try to be a perfectionist. That concept does not exist. Learn from your mistakes, be grateful for them, and take time to enjoy the really simple things.
Temple: Well, that's right. And my mother was very important. I was a little kid, but she had some activities where she could do things she wanted to do. She did a lot of semi professional theater while I was young. And that was her time to just get out with her friends and do something she wanted to do. I think it's important for parents to have some things where they can, you know, go to a movie, go to dinner. See, by the time I was five six. We could do stuff like go out for dinner or go to a movie. But then you've got kids that are much more severe. What normal activities are just impossible. Mm-Hmm. She really had a lot of parents get really stressed out, and you have a kid that you can't take them to a restaurant. Right?
Mary: So your recommendation is the parents need their own outlets too.
Temple: They need some time off and some of this. Otherwise they're going to get so stressed out. My mind thinks in specific examples, and I remember going up. I gave a talk at Big Church and they had one night where parents could get restless and one set of parents just, you know, sat in their car in the parking lot, listened to music. They just were completely stressed out. Mm-Hmm. The kid they had like two hours now of three hours where they could just chill. They needed that.
Mary: Yeah that's great.
Temple: This is the problem you've got with autism once the kids get older. You're talking about such a diverse condition from a Silicon Valley computer whiz kid to somebody who can't dress themselves. Yeah. And, you know, may require 24-7 care for the rest of their lives. And that's the problem.
Mary: I mean, that's my reality. Luckily, my son has services that provide care to him, but it's still a constant in my life and a worry going forward that when I'm not here. So it is a full gamut, like you said, the full spectrum. And that's why, you know, we do these podcasts to highlight that the spectrum is very wide and there is no perfect answer. There's no perfectionism. We're just trying to help each child and each family and professional.
Temple: Perfection is the enemy of good.
Mary: Yeah. And just strive for happiness and productivity, putting one foot in front of the other. All right. Well, we're going to wrap it up. I really appreciate both of your time today to talk about your book navigating autism. I encourage my listeners to go pick that up and I'm going to be reading it. So I look forward to following continuing to follow your great work. And for all the show notes, everything we mentioned today, you can go to MaryBarbera.cm/147 For all the details. So thanks so much for your time.
Temple: Well, thank you so much for having us.
Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at MaryBarbera.com/workshop, where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism. And you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again, go to MaryBarbera.com/workshop for all the details, I hope to see you there.
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