Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet the world famous Dr. Temple Grandin and hear her speak.
Dr. Grandin is world-renowned for her work in animal-behavior in the livestock industry, and she has designed the front end of every meat-processing plant in the country. She’s also maybe one of the most recognizable and vocal autism brains in the world.
The point of Dr. Grandin’s speech was that society has done a great job of diagnosing autism and offering early intervention options for our kids. What we are not doing well, as a society and as an educational system, is transitioning people with autism into the real world.
When you think about it, this probably extends far beyond only young adults with autism.
Every time someone in the audience would stand up to ask a question, she asked how old the child in question was, and then her response was a resounding “Get them a job,” no matter the question.
A job outside of the home, working for someone other than family, is the first step in building confidence and responsibility in our young people, she said.
Having to keep a schedule and be accountable is a life skill that is best taught early and often, according to Dr. Grandin. Kids as young as 11 and 12 can walk dogs, do yard work or serve as greeters and ushers at church, she offered.
Having a job gives our youth skills, lets them earn their own money, and helps get them out of their bedrooms and away from video games, she emphasized repeatedly.
(Brookshire’s hires teenagers at 16!)
It’s important for kids to do internships, she said, starting every summer in high school and working their way through college or trade school. It’s also important for adults to serve as mentors and TEACH children good skills and work ethic, instead of doing it for them.
She suggested pursuing internships in a variety of fields that interest you, as it helps kids focus in on what they want to do later in life.
My 13-year-old already has a job and my 15-year-old is looking for one. Perhaps, we’ll have him look a little more diligently.