A Conversation with Temple Grandin

A Conversation with Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, best-selling author, speaker and consultant of livestock equipment and animal welfare, has become a prominent and authoritative figure for the autism community.

The 69-year-old, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2, has inspired many with her talent in the animal and livestock field and travels around the U.S. to talk about her work. She has helped livestock through her designs of curved chute and race systems used at handling facilities. Grandin also developed an objective scoring system for assessing the handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants.

“I started out in the 70s, a lady in a man’s world,” she says about her work in the live- stock industry.

Her story was so compelling that it was featured in the 2010 Emmy Award-winning HBO movie “Temple Grandin,” starring Claire Danes. The lm documented Grandin’s life growing up, her schooling and her success in the livestock industry.

“I thought they did a great job; when I saw the movie, it was like going into a time machine,” Grandin says, adding she spent time with Danes and her drawings were featured in the film.

While her work in the livestock industry is important, Grandin also has become an advocate in the autism community.

She has books on the subject, including, “The Way I See It,” “The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed,” “Different…Not Less (Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism,” “Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism,” and many more. Co-authored with Sean Barron, a new book called “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism,” is coming out this month.

Grandin, who speaks on autism throughout the U.S., will make an appearance June 14 at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square to kick off the Milestones Autism Resources 15th annual Autism Spectrum Disorder Conference.

Grandin often answers questions from parents seeking advice for their child.

She says parents with young children who are on the autism spectrum should do a lot of early education, and for parents of older kids, she warns against letting them get addicted to video games.

“Kids are not learning working skills,” she says. “Take the things they are good at and develop it. I want kids to be everything they can be.”
She also advocates for parents to let 
go and let their children learn skills and develop on their own, as even sometimes the simplest tasks can be achievements for kids.

“They will not develop otherwise,” Grandin says.

She adds that for teenagers, it’s important for them to have a career identity.

“Autism is a part of who I am, and I have to fight for it not to take over,” Grandin says. “It doesn’t totally define me.”

While she is an advocate for autism, Grandin’s focus is primarily teaching animal science at Colorado State University. She has written several books on animals, including “Animals Make Us Human: Creating the best Life for Animals.” Visit templegrandin.com or grandin.com to learn more about her work and upcoming talks.

About the author

Angela Gartner is the editor at Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine. She previously served as editor for family and general interest magazines in the region. As a journalist, her features and columns have appeared in newspapers and other publications including The News-Herald, Sun Newspapers as well as the Chicago Tribune. She grew up in Northeast Ohio and is a mom of two boys. The whole family is busy each weekend with sports and finding new happenings around the region. She loves reading books, being a board member at the Cleveland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and talking the family dog, a Scottish Terrier named Jagger, on his walks.

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