Temple Grandin

When Diane and Rebecca contacted me about collaborating on a

book about giftedness and disabilities, I was excited. I have long

believed that the fields of giftedness, autism, and related disabilities

need to share information. Professional literature needs to address

the presence of giftedness in individuals with disabilities, especially

Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism. In fact, giftedness

combined with disabilities is an area that in my opinion has

been underserved for too long. I have spoken at a few gifted conferences

and have had the opportunity to share important information

about how autism and giftedness have much in common.

At the many different kinds of meetings I have attended for

autism, giftedness, ADHD, dyslexia, and troubled youth, I see the

same kinds of kids. Although these young people may be similar,

when they have different labels they are subjected to totally

different ways of being treated. Each label has its own set of books,

professionals, and philosophy. One of the biggest indicators that

each label group stays in its own little sphere is that the books

its members are reading are almost all totally different. About

95 percent of the books are unique to each label. Which ‘‘label

community’’ the child gets assigned to can greatly affect the path

he or she goes down because the label affects people’s expectations.

Some of the views on giftedness and disabilities presented

in this book may be novel, but they are necessary. Bright Not

Broken endeavors to share valuable information from the gifted

field with parents and professionals in the field of disabilities.

I believe strongly that this discussion is necessary to provide a

comprehensive perspective on the problems facing our gifted kids

who are stuck in labels, and to bring the fields of giftedness and

disabilities together to focus on children’s special talents, not on

labels. This is why I agreed to be a contributor to this book.

One of the most troubling situations I find myself in is when I

am approached by a child who introduces himself to me as a person

with autism—in other words, the child is identifying himself by

his autism instead of his area of interest. I personally prefer being

thought of as a doctor of animal science first and as a person with

autism second. This is the way our kids should be taught to see

themselves, too—by their abilities, not their disabilities.

Today I am seeing toomany kids who have less severe symptoms

than I had, going nowhere. One of the reasons this is happening is

that there are not high enough expectations for them. Some parents

have adopted a ‘‘handicapped’’ mentality and rely too much on

medication to control their children. They think ‘‘Oh, poor little

Joey. He can’t do this because he has ADHD (or autism or some

other disorder).’’ I have seen smart, fully verbal twelve-year-olds

who have never learned how to purchase a meal in a restaurant

because it was always done for them.

Bright Not Broken provides parents and professionals a good

overview of the problems facing our kids who are gifted and labeled

as ADHD, ODD, Asperger’s syndrome, or learning disabled. It

explains who these kids are, the labels they carry, and how giftedness

is not recognized or developed enough. It explores why these kids are

stuck, while also critically questioning the diagnostic system and the

labels it gives to children. Finally, it explainshowtohelp develop the

special abilities of kids and how to help them reach their potential.

It concludes with a provocative chapter on future directions in

disabilities, diagnosis, and education to stimulate dialogue among

these fields about the importance of developing abilities instead of

focusing on weaknesses. By helping these bright not broken children

achieve their full potential, all of societywill benefit.

Listen to the authors of Bright Not Broken right here on our network on “Bright Not Broken” Wednesday
evenings 9pmE 6pmC here on The Coffee Klatch

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