Dr. Temple Grandin
Every once in a while channel surfing leads to a truly rewarding evening. Such was the case earlier this week when husband Tom and I came upon a HBO movie about a woman we’d never heard about. Now we’re telling her story to anyone who will listen. She is truly a gift for many reasons.
Her biography in that as a small child the doctor suggested her parents institutionalize her since there was no cure for her condition. Her condition is autism. The ramifications of it in her case means she didn’t speak until she was nearly four years old, was very resistant to being held or cuddled and had a hard time adjusting to life with among other children.
Her mother refused to give up on her. Her childhood was full of difficult situations both because other children feared and mocked her and because the autism resulted in some truly terrifying situations for her. None-the-less she managed to get sufficient education to attend a residential high school. There a science teacher who soon came to truly value her different way of perceiving the world mentored her. He opened new doors for her and encouraged her to go through doors. Doors sometimes really frightened her – especially automated doors.
The summer between high school and college she lived with an aunt and family who lived on a cattle ranch. That launched what would be part of her life’s work. She had insights into the needs and preferences of cattle others did not. She designed stockyards and slaughterhouses to manage cattle in more humane ways. She is credited with totally re-thinking how cattle are handled from birth to slaughter. The line credited to her in the movie is, “Nature is cruel. We don’t have to be. We owe it to these creature to treat them well.”
She eventually earned a master’s and a doctorate and became a Professor of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University. She’s authored several books, and is a frequent presenter at conferences on the topic of autism.
Thank God her mother had the good sense and courage to dismiss the advice of the doctor.
Every mind matters. Thank God for parents, extended family, neighbors, coaches, teachers, pastors, youth workers, doctors, counselors, and everyone else who can see the potential in a child and be part of the team to release it.
To learn more about Dr. Grandin go to www.templegrandin.com