Dr. Temple Grandin


              “You’ve gotta get these kids out there in the community”

 This is what you hear from Dr. Temple Grandin, and somehow we can’t hear it enough.  Parents nearly clamor over themselves to ask her directly about their own child, getting advice from someone who possibly knows how their child thinks.  Where every she goes, she tells the truth, the frank honest truth, get kids involved and you get them skills and tools for the real world.


                    Dr. Grandin seems to have mastered living several lives at once, and each of them extraordinarily  normal.  She has her career, she lives with Autism, she is a world advocate for Autism and Aspergers and SPD, and she functions (quiet well) in the social world.  The rest of us might have been classified with multiple personalities, but she is admired for her endurance.  I’ve gotten to see her twice in person, and only 5 days apart!  First was at the Denver Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome SuperConference presented by Future Horizons where she was a much anticipated speaker.  She held the audience and gave them the simple factual answers about career paths based on learning styles, “I’m a visual learner” she says with great confidence. 

                Dr. Grandin also knows firsthand the distraction that some people face everyday just to get through the day.  Sensory inputs are everywhere all the time, we can’t ever completely turn it all off.  Those whose brains processes information seamlessly might never know how often a florescent light flickers in a room.  Many people do know and try to ignore it while sitting in a classroom or taking a test or even trying to enjoy a conversation.  Usually the light wins the attention and tasks suffer.  Though, when Dr. Grandin speaks it is best to listen, she has a lot of useful facts she can cram into a short period, and none of it is a waste of her breath.

              After 2 days of presenters at the conference, Dr. Grandin is the one with the longest line to see her.  People are there to get a book signed or talk to her, but mostly to connect with her.  Parents of children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are looking for advice.  They listened to the professionals and experts and read all the books by those on the outside looking in.  What they know about Dr. Grandin is that she is on the inside looking out and she has a voice for the other who cannot tell their story.

            Anyone can learn from Dr. Grandin, her books describe in detail about her visual mapping, spatial planning is her strength and what her first career was about.  What I mostly see is that she is like Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof.  Because of her ability to see what you describe so well, she asks for a few details about a child/young adult, and then she plays match maker with possible career paths.  I could see a job fair where Dr. Grandin gets 5 minutes with each young adult, asks them a few questions then sends them onto career A or G or W and they live happily ever after, well maybe.  We can’t forget her message though, to get kids social skills and get them jobs or volunteer work early and continue to build on social skills.

               Social skills are how I came to see her for the second time.  I attended the Colorado Women of Influence, Women of Vision Gala where she was presented with an award.  The awards were presented alphabetically, so Temple was later on the list.  She stood out,  by her tall stature as she crossed the room of 200 people, and because she was dressed in her predictable wardrobe, which has become what we expect of her.  Dr. Grandin was the only recipient to speak to the audience.  She had flare about her, pep in her speech.  I had heard the words before, but this time I got misty eyed.  I felt her power and the adulations the rest of the room gave her, we’ve memorized her bio and anticipate the long list of accomplishments.   She took an opportunity to plug her HBO movie Temple Grandin coming out on DVD, with a smile.

                When you hear her speak, she has the same message but she keeps saying it.  She knows it takes a few times before people actually hear, process the sounds and the words and the meanings of what she says.  She knows to make a point you have to be clear and precise and to say your message whenever you get the chance.  She has a lot of ‘back-up’, those experts at the conferences and whose books she writes forewords to.  They just don’t speak from where she speaks; their messages are a little more muted against hers.  I hear you loud and clear Dr. Grandin, keep talking.

To read more about Dr. Grandin see her website here.  To order her DVD go to Future Horizons’ website where you can also buy books by Dr. Temple Grandin.  To attend a confrence to hear Dr. Temple Grandin in person go here for a conference near you.