Temple Grandin, PhD, (born August 29. 1947) is an associate professor at Colorado State University and a famous and successful adult with high-functioning autism. Grandin is also a successful professional designer of humane livestock facilities.
Early life and education
Grandin grew up in a time when very little was known about autism. Having been diagnosed with brain damage at age two, she was placed in a structured nursery school with what she considers to have been good teachers. Several years later her condition was recognized as autism and in adulthood she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. She considers herself lucky to have had supporting mentors from primary school onwards. In the 1960’s, Grandin attended the Hampshire Country School in Rindge, New Hampshire.
Grandin received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, her master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and her PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.
Fame, professional accomplishments, and advocacy
Grandin became well-known after being described by Oliver Sacks in the title narrative of his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, the title derived from Grandin's description of how she feels around "neurotypical" people. Grandin has also been featured on major television programs, such as ABC's Primetime Live, the Today Show, and Larry King Live, and written up in Time magazine, People magazine, Forbes, and the New York Times.
Based on personal experience, she advocates early intervention and supportive teachers who can direct fixations of the autistic child to fruitful directions. She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She is a primarily visual thinker and has said language is her second language. Temple attributes her success as a livestock designer to her ability to recall detail which is a characteristic of her visual memory. Grandin compares her memory to full length movies in her head that can be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details that would otherwise be overlooked. She is also able to view her memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows. Her insight into the minds of cattle has taught her to value the changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive, and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal handling equipment. She regularly takes antidepressants and uses a squeeze-box (hug machine) she invented at the age of 18.
Grandin is considered a philosophical leader of both the animal welfare and autism advocacy movements. Both movements commonly cite her work regarding animal welfare, neurology, and philosophy. She knows all too well the anxiety of feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings, and of being dismissed and feared, all of which motivates her in her quest to promote humane livestock handling processes. Her business website has entire sections on how to improve standards in slaughter plants and livestock farms.
One of her most important essays about animal welfare is "Animals are not Things", in which she posits animals are technically property in our society, but the law ultimately gives them ethical protections or "rights". She uses a "screwdriver" metaphor by saying a person can legally smash or grind up a screwdriver but a person cannot legally torture an animal.
- Emergence: Labeled Autistic (with Margaret Scariano, 1986, updated 1991), ISBN 0-446-67182-7
- The Learning Style of People with Autism: An Autobiography (1995). In Teaching Children with Autism : Strategies to Enhance Communication and Socializaion, Kathleen Ann Quill, ISBN 0-8273-6269-2
- Thinking in pictures : and Other Reports from My Life with Autism (1996), ISBN 0-679-77289-8
- Developing Talents : Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism (2004). ISBN 1-931282-56-0
- Animals in Translation : Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (2005), ISBN 0-7432-4769-8
- Grandin.com - Temple Grandin's commercial page
- Autism.org - Center for the Study of Autism (includes several of her articles)
- GregPalmer.com - 'Temple Grandin's Life Story', Greg Palmer
- TempleGrandin.com - 'Temple Grandin, PhD'
- Interview with Temple Grandin
- BBC Documentary on Temple Grandin
- American Radioworks article
- First Person Accounts of Temple Grandin