On December 13, 2018 Dr. Temple Grandin and Anita Lesko (both diagnosed with Autism as adults) spoke at the Hilton in Miami and I had the pleasure of chatting with them breifly afterwards.They explained how they both share a love of animals and have always known themselves to be different from others but that they accomplished so much in this world because of their parents support and belief in them.
Temple Grandin is already well known for all her success with the cattle industry, for the countless books she has written and for the immense awareness she has brought about for autism. If Dr.Grandin had one resounding message to deliver it was this...GET A JOB! She made it very clear during this presentation that getting a job and vocational skills should be a main goal for any child on the spectrum. Everyone is good at something and discovering that talent to mold it into a career is incredibly important. She told me how we should always "stretch." Never throw our kiddos in the deep end, but always push them to do more and learn new things. And eventually GET A JOB!
Anita Lesko who I had not known before that day, is yet another superstar and has accomplished more than most adults I know. As a young adult, she worked hard to earn the privilege to ride a horse and went on to win championships. She worked hard at school and had a very fulfilling career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetis specializing in neurology. During this time, she decided she wanted to pilot a Blue Angel's fighter jet and after years of dedication, she did just that. She spoke at the United Nations to represent people on the spectrum, wrote books and even found time for hobbies like soap-making. She married her successful husband who was also on the spectrum and had an all-autism wedding which made the news. Seeing her speak brought tears to my eyes and brought about new visions of what success can look like for everyone. She has accomplished so much in her life and it was inspirational, to say the least. Someday I hope will have just as many stories to tell as she did.
I know every child is different and nothing is so cookie cutter that one rule can apply to all, but I do believe in the power of pushing our kiddos beyond their current limits, with guidance (and science) with the hope of them living a better more independent life when we are no longer around to help them. They will have many tough battles ahead and it is my sincerest hope that we can give them the necessary pieces to this puzzle we call life.