Temple Grandin discusses how the world needs “visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.” Some of the key points she brought to the table were:
- You can make a mind more cognitive or social. Autism gets a trade-off between the two.
- In severe cases of Autism, kids are non-verbal.
- The world needs these minds for the future.
- We need to get kids focused on building new things.
- Teachers should modify instruction for students with Autism based off of their fixation in order to truly motivate them.
- We need good teachers in the high schools.
- Mentors are essential.
- Teachers have to get students turned on by what they’re interested in.
Grandin explores these main ideas while integrating several stories from her own experiences living with Autism. I think what makes this video great is that it emphasizes all of the potential and abilities PWA have rather than their disabilities. As a future educator, I feel it will be extremely important to keep this in mind. This way, I can tailer my lesson plans to the varying needs of my students.
One of the concepts I felt was most useful was that teachers (especially in special education) should find whatever makes students intrigued and use it to their advantage when developing lessons. Personally, I know that this would have helped me in my schooling. Subjects like math and science were exceedingly hard for me to understand because my teachers never showed me substantial reasons as to why they’re important. In fact, these classes were dreadful at best for me to go to. Standardized tests like the ISAT and PSAT just reiterated how terrible I performed in the subject areas. I would receive the scores and they served as a mental reminder that math and science will never be my strong suit.
As Grandin explained, teachers will deal with visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, music/math minds, and verbal minds. All of these have their own strengths and then obviously weaknesses, but it is important to remember that all students are different. Teachers need to be sensitive to what kind of thinkers their students are so they can figure out how each will learn best.
A student who has a music mind may look (or rather sound) like this:
Obviously, these students have something unique to offer the world. Teachers need to find what it is that makes their students shine and most importantly, encourage them.