Temple and I have a very interesting conversation about the challenges of employment while being on the autism spectrum as well as some strategies we can all use to help.
Dr. Temple Grandin is well known to many for her trailblazing work as a spokesperson for people with autism and her lifelong work with animal behavior. Dr. Grandin has been with Colorado State University (CSU) for over 25 years. Grandin has been referred to as the "most famous person working at CSU" by her peers.
Her life’s work has been to understand her own autistic mind, and to share that knowledge with the world, aiding in the treatment of individuals with the condition. Her understanding of the human mind has aided her in her work with animal behavior, and she is one of the most respected experts in both autism and animal behavior in the world.
Dr. Grandin is also a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Facilities she has designed are located in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.
You can learn more about Dr. Temple Grandin's work in autism at templegrandin.com and for her work in animal behavior you can go to grandin.com.
Hello, and welcome to the autism in real life podcast. In each episode, you'll get practical strategies by taking your journey into the joys and challenges of life with autism. I'm your host, Ilia Walsh, and I'm an educator and the parent of two young adults, one of which is on the autism spectrum. Join me as I share my experience and the experiences of others, so that we may see the unique gifts and talents of individuals on the autism spectrum, fully recognized.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. This is Ilia with the spectrum Strategy Group. And I welcome you to this episode of autism in real life. And I'm so happy to have and honored that I have Temple Grandin here with me today. And you know, really, thank you so much temple for joining me. It's great to be here. Yeah, yeah. So I know we're gonna have a nice interesting topic to talk about today, something super juicy. But if you could give people a little bit of background about yourself, I think many people know who you are. But I don't think everybody totally knows some of your background. So if you could share that, that would be great. Well, I'm a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. I've been there many years for 31 years on, I had no speech until age four. So I got it all, you know, symptoms of autism. Back in 1949, when I was taken in for diagnosis with a neurologist and you know what autism was, but they checked me and make sure I did not have epilepsy and that I was not deaf, those two things were checked one into an excellent early intervention program. absolutely excellent that two teachers taught in that basement of their house. This brings up the importance of, of good teachers, my mother was always pushing me to new do new things. And one of the things that helped me is that my school had all the hands on classes, I think one of the worst things that's happened in education is that taken out wood shop, auto shop, cooking, selling art, music. And I think those things are very important. Because they expose students to things that can turn into careers. How would you know, you might like musical instruments, if you've ever played one on, I've worked with many people out in industry on because I've designed projects very large meat plants, with brilliant welders and machinery designers, people would 20 patents that definitely would be labeled autistic today. And that welding class or that single drafting class on had a very good career and a really good business. See, this is the thing I see when I get out of the autism world. And I go into the industrial world.
Yeah, no. So this is we're getting right into that topic of employment here. And I think it's, it's super critical. Some of the statistics that I've heard are, you know, seem seem pretty dire, right? So we hear people with autism are 70% unemployed or underemployed. And when I hear that, as someone who is, you know, as a coach, or as an educator, or working with families, I feel like what what, why is that happening? It feels like such a scary number. And I know for parents as well, that can feel very overwhelming and adults as well saying, Well, wait, you know, why can't I get the kind of employment that makes sense for me? So what do you think attributes for that kind of high number like that? Well, I think saw the autism increase detection, and one of the things that they did and I'll not in complete agreement with it was taking out the Asperger's which is basically socially awkward with no speech delay, merged that into autism. see a lot of the people I would work without an industry owned businesses were probably more likely to be they no speech delay, socially awkward. In fact, Ilan musk recently just came out and said he was autistic on Saturday Night Live. So at one end of the spectrum, we got Ilan Musk, he's very definitely employed. And at the other end of the spectrum, he has some he never can, can't dress themselves. And some of those probably wouldn't have been given an autism label before. So you have this gigantic on, you know, differences, you know, between the people will all with the same label. I think that's a problem. But are the big problems I'm seeing today is not learning work skills. I mean, our
kids had chores on kids had a little allowance. Now remember, my sister
I saving for an entire month so we could go spend our allowance at the county fair, and are realizing now that that taught really important skills, they paper routes are gone. You see, we need to be finding substitutes for the old childhood paper route. They can be things like volunteering at the farmers market, volunteering at a church, helping out in an old folks home on where somebody outside the family is boss. That's really, really important. And we're we're concentrating so much on academic skills, we're not concentrating enough on on, you know, working skills, which are very different skills than academic skills. Yeah, no, I think you bring up a really valid point. I mean, I think I know even my growing up, you know, there were there were small owned businesses and right, you would work at the local card store, that's kind of what I did, or you work at the local deli or something, and someone kind of takes you under their wing. And I think it's important. The concept of working for someone other than your parents, is super important. You know, I think that finding,
you know, being able to report to authority that's not your parents or not your teacher, I think is a key piece.
I think that I think that's really important. And mother was always encouraging me to do new things. On out, I had the opportunity to go out to my aunt's ranch when I was a teenager. And I was afraid to go, mother gave me a choice, I could go off somewhere or come home in a week. If I hated it. I got out there and I loved it. And one of the things I learned is I learned how to drive. I cannot emphasize how important that is. And I was extremely lucky that on my aunt's Ranch, the mailbox was three miles away on a dirt road. This is perfect, safe place for driving practice. And we started in the middle of the horse pasture with a very blocky old pickup truck that had a clutch it had three on the tree and lurched around the horse pasture. So we start in a very safe place. You know, spend more time learning to operate that vehicle before you touch traffic, because one of the problems in autism is multitasking. And I did 200 miles on dirt roads going to that mailbox. Before I touched traffic, a lot more practice very safe places like big open parking lots back country roads, on on weekday cemeteries I know people have practiced their deserted office parks. One place, there was a deserted military base that was perfect for practice. We need to find those kinds of places, because driver's ed often shoves them into it way too quickly. Yeah, not Yeah.
Yeah. And yet you bring up another point. I mean, again, you know, being able to either drive or manage other public transportation or finding how to do that, I think is super key to building that independence. But you mentioned creating like a safe environment for learning that type of a skill. I think sometimes it doesn't always feel safe to learn, right? Some of these skills, if we throw someone into a job, and a lot of times we joke about, you know, on the job training, or you know, we're just gonna throw you into it and figure it out. I think that can be really scary for a lot of folks. Yes. Well, yes. And the other thing we got to be careful about, if I was a computer, I'd be an Intel 286. I have a very small processor, I cannot multitask. I cannot remember long strings of verbal information. You know, let's say I had to tear down the ice cream machine and McDonald's and clean it, I need to make myself a little pilots checklist. That's not hard to do on but multitasking is going to be a problem. And this is the reason why you have to have more driving practice. I can give you a specific example of jobs that are not going to work super busy McDonald's out window, super crazy, busy store at Christmas time. Let's find something that's calmer. So we're not setting them up for failure. The other thing I think we need to be doing is just looking more local contacts in the community to get into jobs. And that was a very good job recently, not an autistic person got on this player loves them in a food safety lab, receiving the samples where you have to follow a procedure or somebody just knew somebody.
We need to be making more use of those sorts of contacts.
Yeah, so that's a that's an interesting point. I mean, networking is definitely a thing. I mean, some of my experience working and coaching adults. I think there's two things one
That I would add that I would be curious to hear your thoughts on is sometimes, adults I've worked with have been sort of leery about that sort of building a network or getting connected to people almost as if it feels.
I don't I'm not quite sure what that is. But I feel like it's feeling that someone's setting them up instead of them doing it on their own. I don't know if that if you know what I'm what I'm saying. Like instead of it being organic on their own, they feel that getting connected with people, you know, is almost kind of cheating in some way. But But I think that I mean, that's how I've gotten my job. So I don't know
how half of all decent jobs are gone. And even with all the online stuff, I'm a big fan of just short circuiting that, because so many good jobs are gotten through connections for everybody, I cannot emphasize that enough. The I've, I understood the importance of connections, there's a really important scene in the movie, where I walk up to the editor of the farmer ranch man magazine, I get his card, because I knew if I wrote for that magazine, that really helped my career, have the guts to get up there and get the card. And then you need to produce the work. Another thing I learned very early on is when you're weird, you sell your work rather than yourself. So I had a portfolio, big fold out beautiful big drawings, pictures, trade magazine articles, I'd had photocopied on, saw that I, if I want to make a presentation to a client, I just laid the drawings out on the table, shot them the pictures, and I'll let the work sell itself. That's the other things that I learned selling my work. And I also wrote in that magazine, about my projects, free advertising.
These were things that I figured out very, very early on, on. And the other thing I'm seeing in a lot of jobs stuff is since Autism is such a big spectrum, I'm seeing situations where
they do not work job coaches do not make the differentiation between bagging groceries in the store as a training job, which for me would should have only been I never did that job. But for me, it would have been appropriate for that one summer as a training job. And for maybe somebody else were more challenges, it would be a career.
People are not making that differentiation. You know, we're some guy that I'll go work for tech company, there's bagging groceries for the rest of his life, because nobody thought to teach the guy programming. I've seen that problem, too. You've got parents that are computer programmers, the kids are math whiz. And they got so hung up on the Autism label they didn't think teach their kid programming.
Hmm, yeah. No, I think that's the other thing. I think that's part of that unemployment or underemployment, right. where, you know, if they are working with a counselor or with a job coach or something, they're getting placed in positions that i think i think exactly what you're saying is that, you know, it's sort of good maybe to teach time management and maybe to you know, kind of build those even bag like I was saying bagging groceries, right? You have the list of what you have to do and how you interact with the customer and how you report to a manager and call in sick and do all those kind of basic job functions. But it to me that would be like a stepping stone for many people. And for others to get to that place could be a challenge as well. Right? So maybe it's first teaching, getting up in the morning and getting out of the house and getting you know yourself fed and those kinds of things. So I think sometimes
Yeah, sorry about interrupting I have a very old
problem with I don't get the timing right and conversations. I still don't know In fact, having having a slower processor. But there's a scene in the hbo movie about me Temple Grandin, where the boss slammed down the deodorant and said You stink use it, that scene actually happened. And at that time, I was angry at the boss hygiene yet got to clean it up. You just have got to clean it up. Now I think it's okay to be eccentric. You want purple hair, you know this purple hair is done really nicely. All right, as an employer, but even on a construction site, if you come in like you've never taken a shower in the morning and come into job trailer in the morning, and you haven't taken a shower and you're totally gross. That doesn't mean fly at a construction site.
Yeah, and that's been a problem. And one thing I learned since I have some sensory issues with clothes is I've just got good clothes and work clothes. Feel
About the same, huh? Right, right. And I think one thing that I that I appreciate, especially having seen you speak before and see just seeing you now is, I find that sometimes, and I think that's true for a lot of people, not just people on spectrum, being true to who you are yourself, right, you've even just in the way you've stated about how you dress, whether it's your work clothes, or your casual clothes, finding things that work for you. And being true to that I think some of that comes from
just, I don't know, just knowing yourself really well, and kind of sticking to what works for you. Plus, also, how does that fit into,
you know, societal expectations, and I think you hit on it, where, you know, before you're talking about your portfolio, your portfolio speaks for itself, right? It doesn't, it shouldn't. And it shouldn't matter how you dress, what you look like, none of that stuff, but the work should speak for itself. Well, that yellow thing is a lot of my work was freelance. And and then I learned that if I wrote about, you know, something I designed, people used to say, Why do you give away too many drawings? Well, I found that led to led to other jobs. And even some, like enwave masky has his own business. on what you start out small and you build it up on.
But I'm going to estimate that about 20% of the welders that owned, fabricate what's called metal fabrication shops, and skilled drafting people who laid out entire factories, were either autistic ADHD, or
dyslexic. And I'm saying that absolutely, seriously, a special ed department builds the stuff. And, and the thing I'm finding when I go to an autism meeting, educators just don't know anything about the industrial world. You know, the wolf, the wolf factories, okay, I mainly worked in the meat industry, but I've, I've been in other kinds of factories to and there's a lot of stuff that's the same and, and the fact you would fall down if you didn't have that kind of different guy in a shop that fixed everything and assigned to new equipment.
Right, so so what I hear you saying is we need to really think more outside the box, because I know as an educator, and also depending on where you live in the world or in the country, right? You know, and what your surrounding area is, like I actually worked in a
tech school, a High Tech High School, and I did some work with them, but it was specifically an agricultural tech school, and what a great like, environment for kids, especially who could explore different things, I could try out different types of jobs that maybe another high school that I was working at seriously, like less than an hour away. They were, they were teaching them in a very different way. And there was one particular student that I was consulting with, and he really loved frogs. And they had him working in in like, I guess it's a hatchery. I'm not really sure, but but they were having him work. You know, every day after school, he would go to this store and this farm and they were raising frogs and using the for all different things. And he was learning that process. And the family was like, Yeah, I think this is what, you know, this is where he'll go, this is what he's going to do. But without the family kind of knowing and maybe without that cut that very specific type of school. Right, other kids may not be exposed to that. And then even as adults, some of us are still figuring out well, what am I going to do, right? Like, what what is it that interests me? So how can we create more of those opportunities do you think? Well, I think one of the worst things that I've repeated this many times, the schools have done is taken out all of the hands on things of art, theater, sewing, woodworking, metal shop, auto shop, drafting, okay, now some places are putting in 3d printing on but kids have to be exposed to stuff to get interested. And when you take out all those hands on classes, then they're not getting exposed to things that become possible careers. Now, I was talking to one shop teacher recently at a technical school, and he had an autistic teenager that couldn't stand the noise of the tools. Well, what I'd recommend on that is to go into the shop
when it's not during a class and you can just turn stuff on and off, turn the grill on and off, turn different tools on and off where you control because lots of times you can learn to tolerate a loud sound better if you're the one who turns the tool on and off that can sometimes make big
difference on that, because some of the problems with noise sensitive, it's an excessive startle response.
And so when they initiate the sound, it's better tolerated. Right? So it's sort of like feeling like you at least have a sense of control over the, the noise and maybe the volume and how it you know, how fast a machine might move, or whatever I hadn't, I hadn't really thought of it that way. I mean, it sounds like a lot of what you're talking about is also people would say maybe like exposure therapy, right, like, so we're saying, we have to expose people repeatedly, first, in a really safe way in a way they can understand. And just sort of build the build up tolerance to some extent.
But also just, I think it's also building understanding of something they may not be,
that they might be afraid of, or might not understand. So they can help build, you know, build that background knowledge. Well, the important thing with some of the sensory is giving the person control, where they're turning the electric drill on and off, or some other tool, and that often get them to tolerate it better.
Yeah, no, that that totally makes sense. So what other opportunities so if I'm, if I was an educator, I know I've talked about transition planning with, with schools and students. And I've said, okay, we need to think about outside the box where someone can build the skill that's not in school specific, like working with, like you're saying, working with a family member that maybe work somewhere else, or maybe doing some volunteer work, or shadowing? What other what cut? What other kind of opportunities do you think could make sense? Well, we don't have paper routes anymore.
Know that, but let's just say for fully verbal people with an autism label, two real jobs before you graduate high school, that's the goal. And we have to be careful on multitasking, and one of those jobs could be bagging groceries on
y'all, that could be a whole variety of different, you know, kinds of things they might do help out in an office with some paperwork on, you know, we just got to be careful about the about the multi tasking, you know, work in a greenhouse, I mean, whatever it you can kind of just figure out locally. But there are a lot of communities where you have a whole lot of little tiny shops, I look at those numbers, my little mechanic shop, and you gotta be 18 to work there. And I do a lot of talks in other countries. And
I just did a talk to Nigeria. And I know they have a lot of motorbikes there. And you have the kid who likes mechanical things. So let's get him fixing motorbikes. I guarantee you that in the job in Nigeria, or some other place similar to that. You see, I see specific examples. It's not
abstract my mind thinks in specific examples. Another thing I want to bring up some different kinds of minds, the jobs for the different kinds of mind, I am an object visualizer everything I think about some pictures, and my kind of minds are really good at mechanical things designing mechanical equipment, art, graphic design, then you have the more mathematical student, they're the ones going to get a traditional engineering degree. Be good at computer coding, something I tried, I absolutely could not do it.
Chemistry and Physics, you know, these sorts of things. And then you have people that are good at writing. And a lot of the verbal people, the ones that love history, they love facts. Very good at specialized retail. I spend some real successes with selling cars, selling auto parts, selling office supplies, because they were appreciated for their knowledge of specialized merchandise, specialized retail, and there's lots of sporting goods store, we've got another one camping equipment store. And these places are relatively quiet. That's another thing there. It's not a chaotic
place, and there's
enough time to talk to customers about what they might want. And that's been some other good success places like car dealerships I know of three teenagers that walked into a car dealership of either family or friend. They start selling cars. They couldn't
they weren't allowed to park only. Right, right, right. Electronics and they were selling cars.
Yeah, so what about the adults? Yeah, yeah, no, very specific. And I think you know, I think that point of trying to find that thing that
interests interest you and excites you and then kind of you know, going with that, if if I'm an adult, you know, looking for employment and head of have been struggling especially now during this time.
Time with everything, you know, a lot of online,
you know, kind of environment that we're in. But I think we're easing up a little bit, what would be some suggestions or examples that you've seen with adults sort of, you know, not in school, but now we're post school. And now we're still figuring out what we want to do. What would be some things that you've seen people work on and be able to kind of
all the big problems I'm seeing with a lot of adults post school is video game addiction. And in a book that I did with Deborah Moore, called the loving push, we reviewed all research on video game addiction and autism. And people on the spectrum are more likely to get addicted to them. Now, while younger kids we want an I'm not a believer in banning video games, so we've got to control what you cannot let it totally take over. We're the only interest is video games. And most of these individuals are not going into careers in video game design. I read a lot of business magazines and video game design is very crowded field on the pay is terrible. You're better off going into other types of computing, there have been three success stories where an adult video game addict was weaned off with car mechanics, because my kind of mind and roll visual kind of mind is the kind of mind that will get addicted. I've played some video games, I will not have that stuff on my computer, and it will not be on my phone. Now if I want to go on, check out what the latest video game is. I just watch trailers. on YouTube, too, I find that when the game content is when I don't play them. Because I never neural forget playing a video game, I thought I had done it for 30 minutes, I had done it for four hours.
I don't touch them. But there's been an there's other people that can plays on, you know, reasonable moderation.
But what was done was, so they slowly wean them off with car mechanics. And one of them now is working for the railroad fixing trains and they love them
on and it's done slowly, you have to replace the video game to something else, you also have to find somebody willing to work with the person.
That would probably be some of the smaller independent traps. These are around everywhere. When I talk to parents, one of the first things I'll say Who do you know that owns an auto shop?
And, or just owns any kind of business? And they'll go oil know, out of the way that you do shop? Come on. Let's start thinking about it that I get them to think about and they go oh yeah, that's a stationery store that might be just perfect. Some will drop. There's a store we have in town, I think it's called scales and fins. It was opened during the pandemic because it was concerned essential business. And for certain kids likes for hogs or something that might be the perfect place for the war.
Right. I drive by that it's not where I want to work. But on. I look at that, and I go Hmm, that might be just the place for a certain person. Something Yeah.
Yeah, I'm thinking, um, you know, with an adult, sometimes the, I think similar to what you said before is you decided to grab that business card when you when you met a potential client. And I wonder if you know, whether you're the adult yourself, or whether a parent or whether you know, a coach or an educator that you walk into that store and you go, Oh, you know, this might be a cool place that I'd like to work, or I like the environment here. I like the people here to just do that reach out. And you know, say, Hey, I really liked this place. This might be you know, this is what I bring to the table. And this is what you know, I might need support with but can I at least try it? I mean, is that something you've seen have? Sometimes? Yes. Yeah, they've been people just go on. So let me just try it. Let me just volunteer. Yes, this is now giving people on the spectrum the opportunity to sort of try on jobs. And I think that's a very good thing. Now, I think another thing that helped me was 50 suffering, there was much more formal teaching manners, teaching social skills. When I was a little kid, this was done in our neighborhood all we got to about seven or eight parents had a party, you put your good clothes on, then you had to greet the guests. Another thing I did was selling candy and stuff for charity. And I look back on these things and that and I'm realizing that that taught social skills, but also want to emphasize it's never too late to start. The other thing you have to do with some of these individuals is you have to coach them. On my very first project I criticized some welding and I said look like pigeon do do. And the plant engineer pulled me into his office in the boiler room. I'll never forget this and explained to me quietly didn't scream at me. He
Tommy quietly had to apologize for that rude talk. But enough to tell why the the wall row flush rolling was wonderful. But I had to apologize for the rude talk. He told me what I should do. He was a super good job coach. And did you have training and being a job coach? Absolutely not. He was right, an older plant maintenance engineer. Yeah, no, I mean, I've in the different careers I've had, I've been pretty lucky. I've had some really good managers who did you know, that kind of same, really good coaching, teaching you the right, you know, way to word an email or to give positive feedback or to give constructive feedback, like all of those things? I feel like sometimes we do miss some of that. And in what you're saying about sort of being raised in the 50s, I know things have changed so much. What's your what's your you, I feel like there's this weird balance between teaching social skills, and then also not wanting to take the personality out of the person. Right. So and I sometimes I wonder where that where that misses. So can you like, Can you just clarify what you what you still have the personality and not criticize things in a really rude way. You know, I'm talking basic, just basic manners, okay? Like, you know, how to greet people, how to correctly greet people, that's not hard to learn. And then when I went to foreign countries are never on very, very bad language, always learn how to say thank you in the foreign language, you know that that's an easy thing. You know, you can still be yourself.
And just do do some of these things. Also, I have a lot of grandparents come up to me, grandfather's grandmother's, although count me and they find out, they're autistic, when the kids get diagnosed.
And they have these jobs. Now, where a diagnosis is really helpful for an adult is on their relationships. That's where the diagnosis can be almost a relief. And I have another book, and it's called different, not less. It's 18 on people on a spectrum, telling their experiences, like getting diagnosed later in life. And all of them were successfully employed. But the diagnosis helped them with their relationships. And actually, I'm basically the editor of that book, reading some of those people's own words, I found that really helpful.
But I'm seeing too much not learning basic skills, teenagers that are doing well in school, who have never gone shopping. never had any account. I'm talking about very basic stuff here. And I've learned on parents can't let go, let's just start out easy. Let's just see, I visualize a specific example. And one specific example I see was a 12 year old that her mother came up, she came up to me at the airport, some airports somewhere. And we were sitting at the gate. And this girl had never gone shopping by herself. I pulled a $5 bill out of my wallet, and I said go in that new stand across the hall.
And we could see the new stand.
center to the upper end of the airport, we could see the store across the hall. And she went and bought a drink and brought it back to change. The first time she shopped by herself. Yeah, I'm seeing more and more of this kind of basic stuff that they're not learning.
Right. And I think we forget about those things. I think,
you know, it's funny, as, even with my own my own kids are all are both young adults, and, you know, simple things that we also, you know, we didn't just take out hands on stuff. I mean, I would say even like, there used to be personal finance classes. I remember, like, you know, how to open a bank account, what are mortgages? What are, you know, how do you write a check, and like, stuff like that. And I know, it's changed because we do a lot of things online, but there's still a learning curve. From when you're living at home to all of a sudden you're living on your own, and you're like, Oh, yeah, how, how do I get checks? And how you know, or do I have to make a wire transfer? Or do I have all these simple basic things that will like for me now seem basic, but even still there? There's a lot of steps that go into that we've we've kind of taken even those types of skills out I feel well, I think they're essential skills, are there things that are, you know, that are holding people back. And when it comes to saving money, I I like seven and eight years old, and we my sister, and I was saved for an entire month. So we'll play carnival games, because in the 15th, we thought the Lay's they gave out for consolation prizes were really cool. And there was no other place like those. But I'm looking back on that. What I learned from that I'm realizing is so important. And we've got a Tulsa date, haven't you?
Some of these just totally basic,
huh? Yeah. Yeah, I know, I remember one exercise I did with my kids. And we still talk about it. I think there were maybe like 1617, something like that. I did, I did the gross, they had gone shopping before. But I said, Look, if you're on a budget, here's $20, I'm going to give you $20, you go to the grocery store, and you need to be able to feed yourself for a week with $20, which is really hard to do. But I said, you need to be able to have protein, you need to have a snack in there. Like I gave some parameters around that.
And man, did they not come in, I think my daughter came in like $1 under and my son came up like $1 above, but I was pretty good with that. Like, that was a pretty good exercise. And they, we made it fun. And we made it groceries that we would use or whatever anyway, but but just a simple exercise like that.
Just taught so many different things just being in the store, and how to budget and what are your most important items to choose from? You know, so I think that like, like you said, just giving the $5 to go buy something can help, like, minimize that anxiety of just having to go to just to go into a store, pick something out. A lot of people get overwhelmed even just by the choices that are available.
Well, these are things that that I was learning as a kid, I remember wanting to make a Halloween costume as a kid and I bought some material for that out of my allowance. And
may have just really, you know, just just simple things. And, and I see a lot of moms are afraid to let go. You see, I didn't tell that girl to go to the other end of the airport. It was a store across the hall, or example I suggested to parents, okay, let's say you're pumping gas. And you just tell the kid to run in the store and get a loaf of bread is right there. You can see in the front window of the store.
We can start off with something really simple like, see, but I visualized see my mind works in specific examples, actually, I actually can make that picture of my different gas stations around town that I go to. Right, which right out look into window, because I've thought about
this is just not learning the basic skills and and, you know, things that I learned in sixth grade how to write a business letter? I mean, there's no place to write a more formal email. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's interesting, because you talk about the, you know, parents one needing to let go, I think it can also happen to educators as well.
You know, in some ways an exercise like that isn't just helping the child, right. It's also helping the parents, you know, kind of learn that they can separate and also see the success and the independence that's being built with it with with the child or the student, right, like, because it's like, oh, wow, they were able to do that. And then everybody feels really good about the experience. Well, that's right. That's right. And the other thing that also affects how I think about these things,
is when I realize how many people I've worked with on large construction projects, just to be steel and concrete work on on stockyards. Also machinery design. On I went through all my jobs this, I just did this recently, where I was on a construction site for an extended period of time, and started putting out all the people that I know are either autistic dyslexic or ADHD. Just that point, that factor would not have gotten don't help them.
See, this is something that educators don't, they don't know that world at all.
Right, right. And I think also, instead of looking at it, you know, the as just a difference in how we learn a difference in how we approach work. A difference in how we approach social situations is definitely, you know, I think I think a lot of people are starting to catch on. And I'd like to say there are employers out there that are starting to catch on to this.
Have you worked with any employers specifically, that you can mention that? Yeah, are looking for a lot of employers. I did a talk recently with IKEA. I've talked to tech companies, of course, they realized that a lot of their programmers, you know, are probably on the spectrum. I think it's really good that Elon Musk is self disclosed. I've always thought he was on the spectrum after I read Ashley Vance's book six years ago, but I couldn't say anything until it came out publicly. On now one of the things that he says you can read Ashley Vance's book called Elon Musk. He had a lot of work experience as a kid. He also was bullied horribly in school. Shut down the fares his face smashed in.
But he was brought up in a lot of you know
Hands on use of tools, a lot of travel on lots and lots of work experience. So I didn't get addicted to video games, he was trying to me he was making them and selling them. Now one advantage that he had is I looked up the video games, the trailers of the video games that he would have played, you know, based on his age, and they were much less addictive. They also came from an era where the computer would break all the time, and you get blue screens full of code. I call it showing their guts. Well, that would get a kid into
that doesn't happen today just crashes and it doesn't show up the the code this hidden deep inside, while on blue screen, we're full of code, then the kid wants to find out how that works. You see that? There's a background. Yeah, yeah, there's a whole background that I'm not seeing. Yeah, that's not happening today. And the games he would have been also Marielle games were very chunky figures, I looked up all the kings that were when he was 14, and stuff like that he would have been playing on. And so he wants to sell video games. And he also did a lot of entrepreneurs stuff when he was a young kid selling stuff and, and looking at that, that taught skills. He also had a relative that had an airplane, he did all kinds of wild and crazy trips. And he saw endless slideshows of what this relative did. And you see, look at that, all this exposure. You know that, you know, other countries, he also wasn't afraid of hard work. One of his first jobs he had when you I think when we went to Canada was to go inside a filthy dirty tank and clean stuff out of it.
Really, really awful job put on a special suit done. So he learned what hard work was.
Right. He also was very,
he was very persistent and landed an internship with the bank. And that's how PayPal got started. And he kept getting hold of Skype the bank. And finally I took him to lunch. You know, he got the card. I could relate to that. That was similar to me getting the card. Right, right. Yeah. And it's just it's that sticking to it, especially if it's something that you're like you're really passionate about. And so what kind of supports are people? I mean, I would hope that Elon Musk is in his companies is providing some sort of, you know, support for neuro diverse type of workplace. But what other you know, what other places? What kind, I guess it's more about what kind of companies now that are realizing that, you know, there's certain things that, you know, people with autism or autistic people will do really well things like quality assurance. There's companies that hired only autistic people as one color skirt tech, and their jobs at test websites. Also, they have a contract with a major, very fancy headphone manufacturer that I have to keep confidential. And there is try out this new fancy dancy noise cancelling super duper headset with every conceivable device and streaming service you can hook it up to and make sure it's going to work. Right, right. What a great What a great population to check, right? Well, it's important to check things because just the other day, I wanted to renew my subscription to the economist. And I call the 800 number they listed and they were trying to sell me a medical alert device. And
numbers were transposed. This happened yesterday, I finally got a hold of a congress that said you better check that flyer you're sending out because your 800 numbers got transposed digits, and they want to sell me this thing I could hang around my neck stuff I fell I could call 911.
But that's the sort of mistake that time
that they do do with websites, like a transpose phone number. One example as though they were losing 20% of their business in one district. And when the website got updated, a phone number had been transposed.
And just I found this AI economist flyer yesterday, it was an eight, six versus six, eight at the end of the number makes a difference. I think you need to get that corrected.
Right. Right. Definitely. So yeah, I mean, is there anything else that you can think of? I know, we only have a few minutes, a few minutes more, but that if you were you know, talking like one one particular thing or one example that you have that I think can drive home this concept of, you know, exposure and learning what other types of things are out there aside from academics and traditional? Yeah, I was told you that not 50% of your listeners are adults that are on the autism spectrum. And we need I don't know what the employment level is. First of all, I'd like to find out what kind of a thinker I think a person is. Are they a thinker where car mechanics would be
Do the right thing to direct them into you see, that'd be my kind of mind.
Or there's somebody the word thinkers, I might direct them more towards a specialized retail job. There's a bank that hires, hires people on the spectrum, and they have two word thinkers, that sells specialized financial products. And they've been very successful. You see, my mind works totally and specific your samples.
So what kind of a thinker a person is, and, and
then you just kind of look in the neighborhood and get them into jobs. And we need to find the back doors, the backdoors are everywhere, but people are not seeing them.
They're just not seeing it. And if you have a, a something where you can make a portfolio, you see I was doing design work for cattle handling facilities. So I could put up make a fancy portfolio. Or if you're a programmer, you can make a fancy portfolio. You know, put it up on LinkedIn, we've got electronic things, because a lot of that programming work that can all be done remotely.
You know, some of these other jobs? Selling Cars doesn't work very well, remotely, something.
You'd be surprised there's carvanha. Now, you can actually buy a car online. Oh, I know you can.
The glass car vending machines I've seen
I'd have to have an art to buy a car on one of those things, I'd have the very, very good
contract where if there's something wrong with that done, like, yep, traded, like, you got to take it back.
Let's say the, but you see what being a visual thinker when you said car, Van carvana, I saw that thing. I saw one little, I saw one that was in a magazine, you see the picture, sound a picture thinker, we got to get a lot more creative about finding things in the neighborhood. And one of the places that look for small shops, small, independent shops, those are often really good places to start. Because you don't have to deal with all the corporate bureaucracy that some of the big stores have got,
then you don't have to do all right, online nonsense and everything else. Yeah, I think it's still very personal around town. And I see small shops and I'm going,
that might be a possibility. That one might be a possibility
that I go into areas I've been in other countries, men in developing countries, tons of small shops, I remember scoping out some of those shops and who that one right there might be really good.
I'm just open them out. I've got to look for something where specialized knowledge would be helpful. And not too much multitasking, multitasking and chaotic kind of a of a shop isn't going to work. You see we're an auto mechanic. So they bring you one car at a time and you fix it. That's not more. You see, I see that. Now right now john deere, up in Wisconsin, they can't get enough technicians to fix these fancy electronic tractors. And to work on software. I see that jobs. Well, you need to find the right john deere dealer, that'd be willing to work with a guy and, and the class they'd have to take for that.
And involves a lot of, you know, computerized stuff. But I just saw that two weeks ago, the sign in front of a john deere dealership, I was at a john deere dealership, there's two weeks ago with the farmer and we were talking about the pros and cons of, of the planter with no electronics which he bought that he can fix himself versus the more electronic stuff. We had a big discussion about that. So you know, that's a side of things. But I looked at that john deere dealership and I thought, a door
What would I do if I had no high school diploma because I couldn't do algebra because I absolutely can't do algebra. Like head for the Amazon warehouse. what you've got to do there is you got to do every job on the floor.
And then you work up me but unload a few trucks. First, you're gonna have to unload a bunch of trucks, probably the first job to put you on.
And then your goal, this is what I did in the cattle industry. I'll design that next one in the future. I have that career path, but you have to be willing to pay your dues. And it's a few jobs and there are a lot of multitasking I try to avoid them if I could.
They could go in Intel to 86 but I got the cloud from memory
as I as I talk about this I'm seeing the warehouse I'm seeing pictures in the business magazines and the videos I've watched online because I find that stuff interesting. I'm
and the thing that's an advantage in working for big corporation like that. There's lots of avenues to move up. Same thing in the media industry. I mean
There's a logical array. So I mean, Amazon warehouse will be, the stock will be wet and it's gonna be a lot cleaner.
Yeah, and it's, uh, you know, I think, to your point, there's, there's a lot of sort of things you have to go in experiment, see what's there. I think also, we're in a unique time where there are there's actually a lot of jobs opening up right now because people have shifted careers and have changed their work. And so there's more opportunity right now than then I've seen in a long time, I think, absolutely. I went over to King soopers as my grocery store, pick up my prescription. And they had little temporary plastic signs with wire steaks out in the parking lot advertising jobs. And they had one of those banners that you buy from a banner store, advertising jobs, and those signs would just put up within the last few days. Yeah.
Yeah, there's new opportunities that people haven't haven't seen before. So. So yeah, I think they'll get that begging job.
A lot of people but but King soopers is a large corporation. I mean, there's people work up the store manager.
You know, that's one of the advantages of big corporation, you get a job in small shop, you're going to, you know, just work in that small shop. And then if something happens, like a small shop disappears, because the rent is too high owner,
I used to work with a really wonderful love while his film was obsolete now. But they developed my film and did graphics for me, and
they were making a transfer transfer to the electronic world, but then they only got cancer. And that was the end of that business. That that could be part of problems, small, sharpest. If it goes away, you're left hanging.
And a lot of corporations are getting better about working with neuro diverse people and recognizing that they've got talents. But right now, there's a ton of Help Wanted science. You know, let's go on there at King soopers right now. And you know what they set on those signs. You get paid tomorrow? I've never seen that before. That was on site. I saw yesterday
at the grocery store where I shop. Right, right. So I think people are definitely more willing to have people come in and talk to them.
Get get some jobs. I think the small Yeah, both small and large organizations have their ups and their downs. And so kind of experimenting with both, I think can be super helpful. And then it can also help you decide what what might work for you as an individual and what might not. So I know we talked about so many different things. If people want to find out more about your work. I know. You know, there is there is hbo movie, you have a lot of books. Where can people find out more information about you and your work?
Well, they can go to temple grandin.com if they want to learn about livestock, no, excuse me, I got mixed up there. I'm dyslexic temple. grandin.com is my autism site, Temple Grandin calm the whole name. grandin.com is my livestock site. Now some of my books you might find really helpful on the autistic brain. Because in the autistic brain, I present the science that shows the different kinds of thinking really are real, like the object visualizer like me, the more mathematical mind. And then the more word based still fact mine, these really do exist. It also has about tips on different types of jobs for different kinds of thinkers. There's my autobiography, thinking in pictures, you might find that helpful to read those a bit too. I would definitely recommend the autistic brain and thinking in pictures.
And thinking in pictures has a new afterward. Okay, so I'll have to go and look at the newer version now.
Cool. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate you being here with me today. And this was a really interesting conversation. I know, these are topics that we can talk a lot, you know, we can talk a lot about and you know, I have the the idea that I'd love to kind of redesign how education is done and redesign how we kind of prep kids for after work and maybe if more people hear this kind of information we can we can have a really good start so I appreciate it.
Then let's say he's just sitting in the bedroom doing nothing. Video Game attics are often visual thinkers like me. And a
I'm not saying auto mechanics is the way for everybody. It's not with the three successes that I have been told about where they were successfully we not video games was fixing cars. And they found that cars were more interesting than video games.
As I said before, I won't have stuff on my computer because I'm worried about how addictive it is.
I just watched the trailer. So I know what's in the new games, right? Like, no, but it's great to kind of know I mean, I appreciate you sharing about the autistic brain, because that can help people kind of understand the different ways of thinking and how you know, did the different types of brains work, and then help to kind of clarify and sometimes it's just that awareness of, Oh, I am a visual thinker. That's why I see things in pictures, like you say, or why I can remember where things are just visually. So it can help people get it like a good back rather than be the more mathematics mind. And they think in
more graphs, these are the ones that be good at coding. I tried coding, I was not able to do it. But I tried to see this is where it's so important. get exposure to so many different things. I tried it and it's not for me, but another kid tries it and I'll take off with right and not and not feeling defeated if me if we all tried things that don't work out. So you try something and if it's not the right, the right thing for you. Don't Don't get too hung up on it. Just move on to something else and try try something else.
Okay, I hope your sounds okay. On Your Side. Your image froze just a little bit. Yeah, I
will record it just fine. My image. Yeah, not for that anything.
No, we're all good. I'm still good. Okay, well, that's, that's, that's really good. But I'm,
I'm a big believer in, in going across disciplines. And a lot of educators they need to learn a lot more about what goes on a business goes on to industry. Let's get some good magazines into the high schools, and paper magazines, some business weeks, some fortunes to wired. Some fast forward, you read about really fun stuff in industry, how about some sciences and some nature's and one of the bands on Oprah Magazine, first of all, they will lose there's no bad content in them is that as you flip through that paper magazine, I'll read about something that normally wouldn't be my field, I read a fascinating article on battery recycling, because I'm very, very interested in sustainability issues. And I thought, wow, that's just really interesting. And that's not something I would have looked up on on my own. That's something I read just two days ago. That's recent.
And, and because I'm a big believer in this, in this exposure,
you get it.
You don't know a lot of kids today to start getting exposed to enough stuff.
To figure out they might want to
use the I think specific example. So I'm I did a talk at our State Fairgrounds. This was two years ago and the audio engineer after like, the his manager came up to me and says, I'm pretty sure audio engineers autistic, and he's super good.
Okay, kind of fell into that job. So when I set up for concert
on these the audio engineer against another specific example. Every time I see those concert stages, I'm thinking about a guy who didn't graduate high school, he goes around to fairgrounds and sets up concert stages.
Right, right. And it's having that experience.
He says sometimes just never know. And I think like a lot of parents.
I think a lot of parents get too hung up on the label. And they can't see beyond the label. I think this is especially a problem for people that are verbal, which I'm not for you. I just got a journal article back from the reviewers. They liked my paper, but they don't like my organization. And
hopefully right now,
I don't think in a linear manner. And I got I just was going marking it up, just came down and got away. But I just talked about that two different places in the paper, I think across this section out, move this over here. And
yeah, let that that's I don't think in a linear manner. Right. And I think that well, that's why I appreciate I'm actually enjoying the whole podcasting thing because we can, we can kind of go around, we don't have to kind of always go in a linear fashion. And we can have a more organic conversation. And so I appreciate being able to kind of do this type of work because we can have more of that casual, casual talk. So the thing is, let's say you let's say you're an adult, you don't have a job on
Well, what kind of small shops because those were often you don't have to go through bureaucracy and stuff to get into those and and
There's others all kinds of like unique small shops like there's a comic book shop. In a shopping center where I go to where I go eat lunch, sometimes I've been in there, and I'm gone.
Might be a good job for somebody on the spectrum. A great, good first job, the place is relatively quiet. But you see, I see these places. This is what's called bottom up thinking.
It's not abstract and our next door neighbor used to own a florist shop.
And I thought that would be a good place for somebody else. Yo, bright flower a an independent florist shop. Why?
Good place? Yeah. What's good about that, too, is it keeps it personal. So you get to actually interact with someone you know, face to face in your you're not filling out resumes online that end up just going into black hole somewhere. No, I my opinion of resumes online is a short circuit that and if you're going to go up online, it's LinkedIn and sign forums, here's a magic word online. I've gone online, and I've typed in computer programming, just plain. And then I've typed in computer programming forums, or, and when you add that word forum, you pull up a whole nother wonderful set of websites that might be doors into places where it's discussion groups on some particular thing.
All right, well, that's a good piece of
or at Walmart, I get it through some of those big companies actually have programs will actively recruit people with spectrum. But the other thing is, you get to know a manager. Now one thing that got into a fight at one of the Walmart's was, you know the beginners always start out on a cash register naked, I can do that job, it's all automated, I wouldn't be able to do an old fashioned, making change cash register. And this person, you know, wanted to go up in the camera department on the phone and electronics. Because they knew that stuff. They knew how to sell it in the stores policies, you have to start out at a bottom job, and that ended up the fight. And
well, sometimes you got to pay your dues. It's like the Amazon warehouse, you're gonna have to unload some trucks and you're going to have to walk miles miles in there to pick stuff, the scanner tells you to pick, you have to pay your dues. On that's something you have to do. And you also have to learn, besides just have to do some stuff you just don't really want to do.
Every job. When I wrote when I wrote for the magazine, I was livestock editor. It was really fun to go out and do a feature on a new dairy. Was it fun to write up lists of show and sell results? No. But it was super important to do them accurately. Because if I did those show and sale were so wrong, you better believe it. their, their animal didn't get listed. They were calling up the making notes hearing about it.
sort of just you know, grunt work where you just got Yeah, yep, that's fine. Yep.
But as long as most of it is pretty fun, then then you're good or stuff that you that you're willing to do the grunt work for, for the end result, which is important backwards. That's what you have to do. You've got to some of this grunt work. And you'll also a lot of jobs, this is less likely to happen in a small shop. But when you work for a big company is you're going to be having to do a bunch of entry level stuff for a while and you have to do it. You got to have those trucks if you hate unloading.
That's where you start. But you can learn from all the people around you. Definitely. Exactly. And the other thing hygiene. You show up or building dirty and Amazon warehouse that's not going to go over very well. Yeah, you may get hot and sweaty and but you take a shower, you start out fresh
work is the filthy, dirty slob. That that and I had I had people who made it very plain to me about that.
You can be eccentric. You want to have purple hair. That's fine.
Show off there where you you haven't washed your clothes for two weeks. Yeah, that's, you
know, these are all really good pieces of advice. And thank you so much for joining me today. And you know, I will send everyone to to your site so that they can find out more information. And again, I really appreciate you being here with me today. Thank you so much great to talk to you and
help some people get out there and get some jobs that are really gonna like there's a lot available right now. They're hiring. Hiring. Now's the time. Thank you. Alright.
Listening to autism in real life. This is Ilia Walsh and if you like the show, please hit subscribe so you can get notified each time a new episode is released. I also offer training consultations and parent coaching. I would love to help you in any way that I can. You can check out my offerings at the spectrum strategy calm and when you join my email list, you can get a code to receive a discount off of an online class or a coaching session. Looking forward to hearing from you Take care and see you next time.
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