“Young adults with autism need to get their butts out of the house and get a job! Work experience can start small walking dogs in the neighborhood or mowing lawns,” Temple Grandin
By Ron Sandison
Temple Grandin was standing in the back corner next to the stage as I entered the ballroom of Detroit Marriott Troy at 7 AM for the continental breakfast and my first cup of Java. All the vendors and presenters were bustling to setup his or her tables for the Metro Parenting Living Autism Conference. The 3,840-square-foot auditorium was empty except for Temple and me.
“Hi Temple. I am Ron Sandison. I have autism and I will be presenting on Building Social Skills & Confidence in Those with Autism,” I said reaching out my hand.
“Do you have a job?” Temple asked with a stern mechanical voice.
“Yes, I have been working full-time nine years at Havenwyck Hospital and fourteen years part-time as a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. I am also married and have a one-year-old daughter, Makayla Marie.”
“Way too many young adults with autism and Asperger’s have never had a job or only make a living speaking on autism without real life work-experience. What type of work do you do at the hospital?”
“I am a psychiatric care specialist. I lead mental health groups—working one-on-one with psych patients.”
“Since you are autistic and have a career I will come and listen to your breakout session. The other day I met a mom and her sixteen-year-old son with autism. He is verbal and has never gone shopping on his own. I am glad your mom unlike her helped you to be independent not babying you.”
I introduced Temple to my mascot Prairie Pup and honey badger — a crowd had now encircled us. As the host of the event snapped Temple and my picture including my furry companions.
Later in the afternoon, I was thrilled to see Temple sitting in the backrow, listening intently to my breakout session. Her presence made me feel nervous.
Talent Attracts Mentors
It was amazing to hear her practical advice live. It reminded me of my own journey. I loved her quote, “Talent attracts mentors.”
This quote was true for my success. My gift of memorizing over 10,000 Scriptures lead to me mentoring and interning under internationally known TV evangelist Dr. Jack Van Impe—the walking Bible. Through this internship I learned the skills required for operating an international ministry and was able to develop my interpersonal skills. Dr. Jack Van Impe shared with me his struggles in his early days of ministry as a traveling evangelist and the miracle provision from God to establish an international ministry.
My internship for Dr. Jack Van Impe’s ministry was one of the defining moments of my life. Through this internship, I developed self-confidence and also learned the important skills of working with others.
Get Your Butts out of the House
I also loved her quote, “Young adults with autism—need to get their butts out of the house and get a job! Work experience can start small walking dogs in the neighborhood or mowing lawns.” When I was fifteen-years-old my dad helped me get a job as a dishwasher at Bell Knapps. I developed social skills and manors by working in the hospitality industry.
A couple of humorous quotes Temple shared were, “Being a woman in a man’s world was harder than autism,” and “Don’t try to de-geek the geek.”
Build Your Strengths
The final insight, I gained from Dr. Grandin was build areas of your strengths not weaknesses. In her message she continually stressed that individuals with autism, academic skills will be uneven. This was especially true for me. I was unable to learn anything phonetically. I received a D in Spanish (a phonetically taught language) and I did poorly in math. My reading comprehension and memory ability as a visual learner were off the chart. During my master of divinity, I took three years of Koine Greek and earned a 4.0 GPA. Koine Greek unlike Spanish is a dead language and therefore taught visually using flashcards.
I was greatly blessed by meeting Dr. Temple Grandin. I hope to hear her again soon. She provides hope for us on the spectrum as a role model by her accomplishments, integrity, and work ethics.
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and Charisma House is publishing his book on 4/5/16, A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom. He has over 10,000 Scriptures memorized including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with their daughter, Makayla Marie, and pet rabbit, Babs, and cat, Frishma. Checkout his website Spectrum Inclusion at www.spectruminclusion.com. You can contact Ron on Facebook or email him at email@example.com
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