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Autism Advice for School Success? Try Sunglasses

April 19, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - Several new studies have been released to mark April's Autism Awareness Month - focusing on prenatal exposures, diet and prevalence of the disorder.

One of every 88 children in Idaho has some form of autism, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and success in school can be difficult - although an expert who's considered the most well-known person with the disorder says it's possible.

Temple Grandin says most students with autism and many with ADHD are negatively affected by fluorescent lights in the classroom.

"Try on different-colored sunglasses, pale pink ones, pale light lavender ones. Just experiment with that until you find some where the print no longer jiggles on the page. Also, try printing the homework on different pastel papers."

The autism spectrum has a wide range, but Grandin finds there are three basic ways to connect with children who have the disorder. The trick is to find out what type of thinker the child is.

"There's a visual thinker like me: Thinks in pictures, absolutely can't do algebra. But there's a lot of kids that are visual thinkers that can do geometry. Then there's the pattern-thinker: This is your engineering mind, your computer programmer mind, often have difficulty with reading. Then the third type is the word-thinking kind of mind."

Grandin's experience while growing up was that she was labeled "weird." She says high school was the worst for bullying. However, she found respite from the teasing and encourages today's families to find the same for their children.

"The only places where there was no bullying were the specialized interests, like model rocket club, riding horses, electronics lab. So, I strongly recommend getting the kids involved in activities they can do with other kids, and I'm getting a lot of fantastic feedback about the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts."

Events in Boise for Autism Awareness Month include a conference on legal issues this weekend and the Run/Walk for Autism Awareness on April 28.

Grandin offers more tips on her website, TempleGrandin.com.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID