Temple Grandin is arguably one of the most famous faces of autism. Nonetheless, the self-advocate says there are drawbacks to all of the awareness surrounding the disorder.
Grandin says she’s worried that focusing on labels means that today’s youngsters with autism won’t meet their full potential.
“To a certain extent it’s a good thing,” Grandin said of increased autism awareness in an interview with Salon.
“On the other hand… I visit people in (autism) meetings, and a 9-year-old will come up and want to talk about his autism. I’d rather talk about his science project. You get fixated on your favorite thing as a kid, and now kids are getting fixated on autism instead of dogs or medieval knights. I’d rather get them to fixate on that something that could give them a career,” Grandin said.
The comments come as autism rates are rising rapidly. In March the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 1 in 88 children have the developmental disability, up from an estimate of 1 in 110 just three years ago.
Grandin, 64, has written several books and tours the country speaking about her experiences as a person on the spectrum. She is also one of the country’s foremost experts on the handling of livestock. Her experiences were the subject of an award-winning 2010 HBO biopic starring Claire Danes.