Editor's note: This is an excerpt from an opinion piece by Temple Grandin on TakePart.com; visit the site to view the entire article. Visit the Royal Oak-based Judson Center's website for more information and local resources.
I live in two worlds.
One day I am visiting the engineering campus of a university, and the next day I am at an autism conference. What I have learned from this is that many technical and creative people are often undiagnosed autism spectrum, Asperger, dyslexia, or have learning problems. Many of these successful individuals are aged 40 and older. They are in good jobs, and they have succeeded because their sense of identity is as a statistician, artist, computer programmer, musician, engineer or journalist.
This is similar to me. I am a scientist and college professor first and a person with autism second. Autism is an important part of me, and I do not want to change, but my career is my identity, not autism.
I get concerned when young kids come up to me and all they want to talk about is “their autism.” I would rather talk about their interest in animals, science, or history. They are becoming their label.
Dr. Temple Grandin’s achievements are remarkable because she was an autistic child. She was motivated to pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer. Temple lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism. She was honored in Time magazine’s 2010 “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”