Most anyone who is part of the Autism Community, would recognise the name Dr. Temple Grandin. But would you reckognise the name: Eustacia Cutler?
Some people know immediately. Others have absolutely no clue who this person might be. Eustacia Cutler, is Dr. Temple Grandin’s mother.
What is Autism
Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain. As the brain matures, it becomes neurologically (wired) different then what is found in the Neuro-Typical (non-autistic) general population. Approximately 1 percent of the population (1 in 88) are affected by an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I had a few moments with Ms. Cutler at a recent Autism conference held in Tucson. A charming woman, with a distinctive Boston accent.
The Politics of Autism
Autism and Politics. Why isn’t the political system doing anything to help?
There is a great deal that we don’t know. That’s why I am working to develop this fund, the Temple Grandin/Eustacia Cutler fund to support and guide all members of the family. I think basically Autism is a family dis-order.
This is one of the reasons politician’s don’t approach this. They want to be kind. But how do they do this? The part of the problem with the government is they are not always sure what is the most helpful thing to do? I am not sure either. They can’t take care of the situation. In the end, the family is going to take care of the situation. The family is the lynch pin.
This also means, school and therapists. But they [politicians] can’t handle the life problems. They can only guide people and teach them to handle problems themselves.
There are not going to be answers. There are only going to be choices.
Changes to how Autism is diagnosed
I am not in a position to evaluate it. I will watch it. My role is be an ambassador. To explain and listen to the doctors.
Temple is a visual learning. As a child, she was almost a “tape recorder.” What role did hearing playing in her learning process?
We have different ways of connecting neurologically. We are all visual learners in my family. It’s not always information that’s appraised. That’s why I talked about the difference between conceptual thinking and categories. How hard she has to work, for the conceptual thinking, which does NOT come to her neurologically.
The organisation Autism Speaks. Do they help? Does they hurt?
Interesting question. People think differently. It’s corporate thinking. Of course they have done good. They have raised huge amounts of money. They have put a great deal of it into research. All help is good.
A followup question. On several websites, there are posts that say: “Autismspeaks does NOT speak for me.” Comments?
I have no way to appraise this. I see the tremendous need each of us has to hang on to our identify. The fear that particularly High functioning Apsergers have is losing themselves. Research will change them.
At a conference that Margaret Bowman did (from Mass. General Hospital) in Bakersfield California, a young Neurologist was talking about medications. A man stood up and said: “I am Asperger. Is the point of your research to do away with me?”
A final question. If you could leave one thought to the future generation about Autism, what would you tell them?
Choices. We change. The capacity to change, I think is an extraordinary gift. The choices change us. We have some sense in our neurology of some spirit in us, to be the person we would like to be. In the choices, clarify it for your child. You make the choices for your child to be fulfilled. I would say that. No, Temple is not cured of her Autism. But she is fulfilled. She is fulfilled as she would like to be fulfilled.
The film Temple Grandin is an excellent biopic of Eustacia Cuter, and Dr. Temple Grandin.