Temple Grandin

temple grandin

Temple Grandin (b. 1947) is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is also widely noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the ‘hug machine’ designed to calm hypersensitive persons.

Grandin became well known after being described by Oliver Sacks in the title narrative of his book ‘An Anthropologist on Mars’ (1995); the title is derived from Grandin’s description of how she feels around neurotypical people. She first spoke in public about autism in the mid-1980s at the request of Ruth C. Sullivan, one of the founders of the Autism Society of America.

Based on personal experience, Grandin advocates early intervention to address autism, and supportive teachers who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions. She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She claims she is a primarily visual thinker and has said that words are her second language.

Grandin compares her memory to full-length movies in her head that can be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details. 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.

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, which motivates her in her quest to promote humane livestock handling processes.

As a proponent of neurodiversity, Grandin has expressed that she would not support a cure of the entirety of the autistic spectrum. Grandin says, ‘the part of other people that has emotional relationships is not part of me’ and she has neither married nor had children. She describes socializing with others as ‘boring’ and has no interest in reading or watching entertainment about emotional issues or relationships.

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