The Savant Syndrome

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Temple Grandin

Born August 29, 1.947 (age 64)

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Nationality American

Institutions Colorado State University

Alma mater Franklin Pierce University

Arizona State University

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Known for published works and work with the livestock industry
Autism rights movement

Philosophy

Neurodiversity · Neurotypical · Sociological and cultural aspects · Ableism · Social model of disability · Disability rights movement

Organizations

Autism National Committee · Autism Network International · Autistic Self Advocacy Network · National Autistic Society · Aspies For Freedom

Events

Autistic Pride Day · Autreat

Issues

Judge Rotenberg Educational Center · Karen McCarron · Inclusion (education) · Inclusion (disability rights)

Temple Grandin (born August 29, 1.947) 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 noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the squeeze machine designed to calm hypersensitive people.

Grandin is listed in the 2.010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the category "Heroes".

Early life and education

Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Richard Grandin and Eustacia Cutler. 

She was diagnosed with autism in 1.950. 

Having been labeled and diagnosed with brain damage at age two, she was placed in a structured nursery school with what she considers to have been good teachers. 

Grandin's mother spoke to a doctor who suggested speech therapy, and she hired a nanny who spent hours playing turn-based games with Grandin and her sister.

At age four, Grandin began talking, and making progress. 

She considers herself lucky to have had supportive mentors from primary school onwards. 

However, Grandin has said that middle and high school were the worst parts of her life. She was the "nerdy kid" whom everyone teased. 

At times, while she walked down the street, people would taunt her by saying "tape recorder," because she would repeat things over and over again. Grandin states that, "I could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt."

After graduating from Hampshire Country School, a boarding school for gifted children in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1.966, Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1.970, her master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1.975, and her doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1.989.

Career celebrity, advocacy

Grandin's interest in animal welfare began with designs for sweeping curved corrals, intended to reduce stress in animals being led to slaughter.

Grandin is 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 the anxiety of feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings, and of being dismissed and feared, which motivates her work in humane livestock handling processes. 

Her business website promotes improvement of standards in slaughter plants and livestock farms. 

In 2.004 she won a "Proggy" award, in the "visionary" category, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

One of her notable essays about animal welfare is “Animals are not Things”, in which she posits that animals are technically property in our society, but the law ultimately gives them ethical protections or rights. 

She compares the properties and rights of owning cows versus owning screwdrivers, enumerating how both can be utilized to serve human purposes in many ways but, when it comes to inflicting pain, there is a vital distinction between such 'properties': a person can legally smash or grind up a screwdriver but cannot legally torture an animal.

Grandin became well known after being described by Oliver Sacks in the title narrative of his book An Anthropologist on Mars (1.995); 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-1.980s at the request of Ruth C. Sullivan, one of the founders of the Autism Society of America. Sullivan writes :

I first met Temple in the mid-1.980s ...[at the] annual [ASA] conference.... 

Standing on the periphery of the group was a tall young woman who was obviously interested in the discussions. 

She seemed shy and pleasant, but mostly she just listened.... 

I learned her name was Temple Grandin... 

It wasn't until later in the week that I realized she was someone with autism....

I approached her and asked if she'd be willing to speak at the next year's [ASA] conference. 

She agreed...The next year... Temple first addressed an [ASA] audience.... people were standing at least three deep....

The audience couldn't get enough of her.

Here, for the first time, was someone who could tell us from her own experience what it was like to be extremely sound sensitive ("like being tied to the rail and the train's coming")... 

She was asked many questions : "Why does my son do so much spinning?" "Why does he hold his hands to his ears? "Why doesn't he look at me?" 

She spoke from her own experience, and her insight was impressive. There were tears in more than one set of eyes that day.... 

Temple quickly became a much sought-after speaker in the autism community.

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[6] and has said that words are her second language. 

Temple attributes her success as a humane livestock facility 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. 

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 was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in 2.009.

As a partial proponent of neurodiversity, 

Grandin has expressed that she would not support a cure of the entirety of the autistic spectrum.

Personal life

"I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. 

We've got to give those animals a decent life and we've got to give them a painless death. 

We owe the animal respect." —Temple Grandin

On May 16, 2.010, Grandin also received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Duke University.

Grandin says, “the part of other people that has emotional relationships is not part of me” and she has neither married nor had children. 

Beyond her work in animal science and welfare and autism rights, her interests include horse riding, science fiction, movies, and biochemistry. 

She describes socializing with others as “boring” and has no interest in reading or watching entertainment about emotional issues or relationships.

She has noted in her autobiographical works that autism affects every aspect of her life.

 She has to wear comfortable clothes to counteract her sensory integration dysfunction and has structured her lifestyle to avoid sensory overload. 

She regularly takes anti-depressants, but no longer uses a squeeze-box (hug machine) that she invented at the age of 18 as a form of stress relief therapy, stating in February 2.010 that: “It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I'm into hugging people now.”

In popular culture

Grandin has been featured on major media programs, such as Lisa Davis's It's Your Health, ABC's Primetime Live, the Today Show, and Larry King Live, the NPR show, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and written up in Time magazine, People magazine, Discover magazine, Forbes and The New York Times.

In 2.012, Grandin was interviewed on Thriving Canine Radio to discuss "A Different Perspective on Animal Behavior."

She was the subject of the Horizon documentary “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow”, first broadcast by the BBC on June 8, 2.006, and Nick News in the spring of 2.006.

She has also been a subject in the series First Person by Errol Morris.

Grandin is the focus of a semi-biographical HBO film, titled Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes as Grandin.

The movie was released in 2.010, was nominated for 15 Emmys, and received five awards, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Best Actress in a Drama.

Grandin was on stage as the award was accepted, and spoke briefly to the audience. 

Coincidentally, the 2.010 Emmy Awards happened on Grandin's birthday. 

At the 2.011 Golden Globes, Claire Danes won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television.

Grandin was featured in Beautiful Minds: A Voyage Into the Brain, a documentary produced in 2.006 by colourFIELD tell-a-vision, a German company. 

She appeared in a 2.011 documentary on Sci Channel, "Ingenious Minds".

She was named one of 2.010's 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

Major publications

Emergence: Labeled Autistic (with Margaret Scariano, 1.986, updated 1.991).

The Learning Style of People with Autism: An Autobiography (1.995). 

In Teaching Children with Autism : Strategies to Enhance Communication and Socializaion, Kathleen Ann Quill.

Thinking in Pictures: Other Reports from My Life with Autism (1.996).

Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism (2.004). 

Animals in Translation : Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (with Catherine Johnson, 2.005).

The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships : Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism (with Sean Barron, 2.005).

The Way I See It: A Personal Look At Autism And Aspergers (2.009).

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best life for Animals (with Catherine Johnson, 2.009).