heard that Temple Grandin was speaking an hour away, I jumped
into my pickup and made the trip. Grandin is a hero in these
parts and elsewhere ó a well-known animal behavior professor
at Colorado State University (my alma mater) and an advocate
for autistic populations.
knows first hand about autism; she was diagnosed as a young
child. Autism is really a spectrum of neurodevelopment
disorders related to changes in brain development, according
to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and
Stroke. Communication difficulties and awkward social
interactions that show up at an early age are characteristic
of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
didnít talk until I was four years old," Grandin told
her standing room only audience. Yet as an adult, she earned a
degree in psychology plus masterís and doctorate degrees in
animal science. Today she is a noted speaker and author and
the subject of the 2010 award winning film, "Temple
role does nutrition play in ASD? No one knows for sure.
Genetic as well as environmental factors (which includes
nutrition) appear to be involved in the development of autism,
the insult, it may start as early as pregnancy, according to a
recent study at Boston Medical Center. Researchers there found
that women who were obese before pregnancy and developed
diabetes during their pregnancy ó a condition called
gestational diabetes ó were at higher risk of having
children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
doesnít treat her autism as a disorder, however.
"People think in different ways," she explained.
"Iím a visual thinker. I think in pictures. Donít get
hung up on the diagnosis of autism."
gives much of the credit for her ability to function in the
world to her mother who expected her to adhere to certain
rules of behavior. "Itís OK to be eccentric," she
said, "but you canít be a slob. Mother knew how to push
meÖyou gotta stretch these kids."
with ASD need to be told clearly what they need to know,
Grandin emphasized. "Donít be vague; expect them to do
what they can do."
with ASD also need a balanced healthful diet to help them
learn, manage emotions and process information, according the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Yet these kids are often
sensitive to certain tastes, colors, smells and textures. Try
these strategies, suggests registered dietitian Joan Guthrie
new foods in a low pressure way. And donít fret if the child
still refuses it. The goal is to help your chid become
familiar with new foods over time.
meals predictable. Routine meal times help reduce stress.
professional guidance before trying overly restrictive diets.
Research is still lacking, for example, on the effectiveness
of gluten- and casein-free diets for children with ASD.
them out into the world," Grandin concluded. "Limit
TV to one hour a day. We absolutely cannot have recluses with
video games in their bedrooms."
think of it, this is good advice for all children. Thank you,