One person who has turned preconceived notions around about autism is Dr. Temple Grandin. Her story has been shared in numerous magazines, TV programs and even on public radio. In 2010, she was named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People of the World by Time Magazine. An HBO film, Temple Grandin, won 7 Emmys. So, just who is Temple Grandin and what has she done to receive such noted fame? Temple Grandin is an advocate for animals and autism.
Not many people understand that there are many levels of autism that span across a specific spectrum. Some autistic individuals have limited functions and this is usually the type of person we picture with this disorder. However, some of the brightest minds are individuals with autism but their potential can be limited by prejudice, misunderstanding and sometimes just plain ignorance. If these individuals are given love, understanding and encouragement, they could be some of the most influential contributors to society.
Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism in 1947, when there was not a lot of science or research on this disorder. Doctors wanted her mother to institutionalize her which was the normal recommendation back then. Temple’s mom, who loved her so much and saw the potential in her, refused to put her daughter away and lock her up as if she were less than a human being. Instead, Temple was required to exercise her body and mind that eventually would contribute to her love of animals and education.
Growing up on a farm, Temple showed a great interest in animals, especially cows. As Temple grew older, she found that she was excited about science because her science teacher motivated and encouraged her interests. With this enthusiasm in science and education, Temple went on to obtain a B.A. at Franklin Pierce College and an M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University. She went even further and obtained her PhD in Animal Science from the University of Illinois. She currently is a professor at Colorado State University. She’s considered by some to be the most accomplished person with autism.
Not only is her education impressive for an autistic individual, but her work with animals has changed the way livestock are treated in slaughterhouses across the world today. Temple’s extraordinary understanding of animals’ interactions and behavior led her to become a designer of livestock handling facilities. She was able to see how the mistreatment affected cows that were going to be slaughtered and developed ways in which the process could be handled more humane with less stress on the animals. She has worked alongside top officials within the fast-food industry to make sure the animals are treated with respect, even if they will wind up on serving trays.
Temple Grandin’s compassion towards animals is to be admired, as well as her interest in educating individuals about autism. Temple is truly an inspiring individual who can teach us more about how we treat others who may be different, and how we treat animals humanely no matter our use of them.