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Autism Expert Keynotes 'Edufest' Today

PHOTO: The keynote speaker today at Edufest in Boise is Temple Grandin, Ph.D. She is considered the most well-known person in America with autism, and she'll focus on connecting with kids who are considered gifted, as well as having a disability. Photo credit: TED 2010.
PHOTO: The keynote speaker today at Edufest in Boise is Temple Grandin, Ph.D. She is considered the most well-known person in America with autism, and she'll focus on connecting with kids who are considered gifted, as well as having a disability. Photo credit: TED 2010.
July 28, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - Parents and educators from throughout the Northwest are in Boise for the "Edufest" gifted and talented education conference. Those attending will learn about ways to motivate students and offer differentiation in the classroom - even under Common Core guidelines.

Today's keynote speaker today is Dr. Temple Grandin, considered the most well-known person in America with autism, who also happened to be a "gifted child." She will speak about how to provide the best for children with that dual-status, and said she thinks technology may be the connection some kids need.

"There's some kids that can just hunt and peck one-finger typing that can't talk," Grandin said. "There's some kids where you teach them with pictures and they can start to talk. And then, there's some that are not going to talk, but they can learn to type."

Grandin, who didn't speak until age 4, said there is nuance in knowing how to push children without driving them into sensory overload or causing panic.

Another point that Grandin makes is the importance of social interaction. She said children who are gifted and diagnosed with a disability need "people skills" to succeed in life, such as the art of negotiation and understanding appropriate behavior in public.

"Well, the reason why they do behaviors like flapping and spinning is they calm you down," she said. "I used to do these things, and I think it's OK for a child to have some downtime where he can do this stuff - but it's not in the classroom, and it's not at the dining room table, and it's not in church."

Grandin also said she believes children need more time outdoors for unstructured play, so they can explore and experience social interactions with children of all abilities.

Grandin's speech is to begin at 8:30 a.m. The conference runs all week at Boise State University. Call 208-378-0579 for more information.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID