“Autism is a very big spectrum,” Grandin said, speaking in her distinctive, no-nonsense style. Autism, she said, ranges from people with severe handicaps to high-functioning people like Einstein, Steve Jobs and Mozart. “Half the geeks in the Silicon Valley are on the spectrum.”
It’s important that autistic children learn to talk, she said. If a child isn’t talking by age 3, they need therapy 20 hours a week. Parents should find what their children are good at and develop those strengths. She was always good at art.
“I’m a totally visual thinker,” Grandin said. She thinks in concrete images and specifics, not vague concepts. “Give me a keyword. I’m like Google. I work just like Google.”
It’s crucial, she said, that autistic kids learn basic social skills, especially manners, how to shake hands and how to work at a job every day. She had many jobs growing up, including sewing, cleaning horse stalls and carpentry.