Mary Temple Grandin is an American zoologist and ethologist with autism disorder. Doctor in Animal Science, at 72 years old, she is a reference among the autistic community, and from her it has been filmed until a biographical film.
Imagine that ABC invited Temple to spend a weekend in Toledo, one of the best positioned Spanish cities in terms of accessibility according to a study by the recently published Idencity consultancy. What would your experience be like?
People with autism spectrum disorder, such as Temple, have difficulties in social interaction and communication with others due to a neurological condition. But from this it is not necessary to deduce – it is a very common label – that they do not want to be with people. On the contrary, they want to communicate; The problem is that they don’t know how to do it and, generally, they don’t understand oral language. That is why they handle much better with visual information, because they need to anticipate what will happen to avoid distress.
But Temple would have nothing easy to walk alone in Toledo. Probably, your degree of anxiety would skyrocket at any time due to the lack of cognitive accessibility. It should always be accompanied because the signage, which helps create the image of the environment, shines by its absence in the capital of all Castilian-Mosque.
Visual thinkers, as people with autism spectrum (ASD) are called, also do not need a display of overwhelming posters. Quite the opposite; Sometimes the solution is a handful of euros. With simple drawings supported by words, schematic figures or pictograms, they can be developed. But Temple, surely, could not do it alone in the City of Three Cultures, cradle of Alfonso X the Wise, who elaborated his extensive literary work based on drawings and illustrations.
On this imaginary trip, let’s say the route starts from the bus or train station. Be it one or the other, no one has cognitive accessibility, so it would be necessary to wait for it so that the woman did not get lost on reaching the historic center on foot by climbing the escalators of Safont.
It would cross pedestrian crossings that do not have pictograms painted on the ground, as it rarely happens in a Spanish city; and finally reach Zocodover Square thanks to his guide, the neuropsychologist Laura Olmo, technical director of the Association of People with Autism of Toledo (APAT).
Temple would visit the Library of Castilla-La Mancha, in the fortress, where Laura would tell her that she was not going to see any explanation with drawings that would help her understand the content in each room. Instead, you could enjoy wonderful panoramic views from the cafeteria.
Being a world-renowned person, a representative of the local government team could show you the City Council later. But Laura would have already warned Temple that she was not going to find pictograms or anything like that to help her know that she was standing in the plenary hall, the chapter room or the offices where citizens are served. Possibly, the councilor or the mayor on duty would ask where they would find those alternative communication systems.
—On the Arasaac website, of the Aragonese Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. You have material to bore you, ”Laura would answer.
The neuropsychologist would later invite to eat in a restaurant. But, to her misfortune, Temple would not find an establishment with the adapted letter, so that an adult and with a university career like her could not ask for herself or carcamusas, or partridge to Toledo or marzipan. Fortunately, her guide would save her again from the bad drink.
Perhaps it would be a good time for the zoologist, somewhat nervous about the lack of adapted information, to stop along the way to rest in the hotel. It would not matter who reserved, because the technical director of APAT would not find one with cognitive accessibility.
In the afternoon, the plan would not happen in any way to go to the commercial center of the neighborhood of Santa María de Benquerencia or its cinemas. And because? The noise of the music, the light intensity in the stores or the high level of the volume of the announcements in the projection rooms can generate pain to people like Temple. Better look for another alternative.
That’s why Laura would take the zoologist to the La Abadía shopping park. There Free Jump, a play center of trampolines that opened in December, has pictograms in the bathrooms indicating the sequence to use them.
“And why here?” Asked Temple.
—The owners have a relative with autism. Now, with the fashion of making art when announcing the urinals, one does not know if he gets into a bathroom of boys or girls, ”Laura would answer wryly.
“And surely there are also them in the cemetery, right?” That’s why the eternal rest, ”the zoologist would question with Sevillian sarcasm.
“There … there is no signage either,” the APAT technical director would be upset.
The next morning, our guest would go to a museum that was open in the city on a Sunday. “But we wouldn’t find any adapted for people with an autistic spectrum,” Laura would tell her before Temple ate a chocolate with churros at Catalino’s kiosk. “We’re going from bad to worse,” Temple would think.
And already put, what would happen if she got sick or had to go to the National Police station or to the local Police headquarters for having lost the documentation?
At the Vigen de la Salud hospital, the ethologist would be lost by the mess of unadjusted posters and would not find a doctor, unless she entered the UVI, who explained with some pictograms what tests they were going to do to know their possible ailment.
The same thing would happen to him at the police offices, where not only there is no signage, but the information given to a citizen is written in a bureaucratic way, farragosa many times, which complicates his understanding for a visual thinker. Laura would tell the agents that in her association offer manuals for free to learn to write in a simple way, which, economically, does not increase the generation of documents too much.
However, Temple weekend in Toledo would come to an end. Laura would take her to the airport to make sure she would take the right plane back to the United States.
“What will you remember from your visit?” I would ask.
—Toledo, very pretty. But suspense in cognitive accessibility – Temple would respond with simultaneous translation. .