California Educator

October/November 2021

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You're an advocate of hands-on classes for students with autism such as art, woodworking, auto shop, theater. How can educators whose schools do not offer these classes help students develop similar skills? I'm an advocate for every kid to take these kinds of classes, especially kids with ADHD, who are dyslexic and autistic. Taking kids outside and exposing them to practical, real things helps. Gardening. Feeding animals on a farm and observing animal behavior. Looking at plant buds and constellations. I was exposed to cattle as a teenager, which led to my career. People who think differently learn differently. How can students know if they like working with tools if they 've never used them? There are kids grow- ing up today who have never used a ruler. I'm concerned students are getting totally removed from learning the practical. Rosalie Winard Beautiful Minds Temple Grandin on developing the talents of those who think differently You've talked about four different types of thinking: visual thinking/object visualizer; pattern thinking/spatial visualizer; verbal thinking/language translator; auditory thinking. How does that play out in the classroom? Educators need to understand how stu- dents think and teach to that. I'm a visual thinker — I think in pictures. Visual think- ers are poor at algebra. Pattern thinkers are good at math and music, and poor in reading. Verbal thinkers think in words, they 're good at history, they 're poor in drawing. Auditory thinkers can be dyslexic students, their visual perception is frag- mented, they learn through their ears. Education has been taken over by ver- bal thinkers. Other kinds of thinkers are sensory based, not word based, and more needs to be done to develop these think- ers. For example, algebra is a requirement to graduate from high school. I flunked out of algebra, and many other kids who are visual thinkers flunk out too. Why can't geometry be required instead? You say there can be mixtures of these types of thinkers. How do you teach to that? People who think differently always have a dominant type of thinking. Kids who get the special education label tend to be more extreme — their skills are more uneven. Again, it's a matter of exposure. For visual thinkers, have them try drawing and art, mechanical things. Give pattern thinkers Science and Nature magazines, computer coding. Show T E M P L E G R A N D I N , Ph.D., is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and one of the best-known adults with autism. She has long been an outspoken proponent of autism rights and the need to recognize different kinds of thinkers, including people with autism, dyslexia and ADHD, and the ways they learn and can contribute. A prolific author and speaker, she has expressed concern over labeling people who think differently : "Rigid academic and social expectations could wind up stifling a mind that, while it might struggle to con- jugate a verb, could one day take us to distant stars." Dr. Grandin is the keynote speaker at CTA's 2021 Fall Special Education Con- ference (Home Edition!), Nov. 5-7 (see box). In advance, she answered a few pressing questions. Hear Temple Grandin speak on "Developing Talents — Utilizing the Skills of Different Kinds of Minds" at the 2021 Fall Special Education Conference (Home Edition!). The virtual event, Nov. 5-7, is for CTA members working in general or spe- cial education. Sessions are focused on core special education topics including instruction, identification, IEPs and behavior. The conference is free. University credit and profes- sional growth hours are available. Register at 15 O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R 2 0 21 S

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