Temple Grandin to speak at final spring Lyceum Lecture Series
April 3, 2012 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated April 3, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Temple Grandin's autism far from hinders her ability to connect with people. Rather, it's the so-called disorder that's made her so accessible - not only to the autism community but also to scientists, ranchers, fans and even Hollywood.
"Different people with different skills, when they work together, can complement each other," Grandin, 64, said about how she's capitalized on the diagnosis she received 60 years ago.
The Crossroads will get their own chance to know the world-famous animal scientist and autism advocate at Victoria College's Lyceum Lecture Series on Thursday.
Grandin said she anticipates the evening to appeal to a crowd as varied as the different minds for which she's become a champion.
"I'm going to be talking about some autism stuff, some animal behavior stuff, how people with autism, dyslexia and ADHD and other labels can have uneven skills - good at one thing, bad at something else," she said.
Self-awareness has propelled the young girl who doctors said should be institutionalized into a woman whose contributions to the livestock industry and to the autism community have been uniquely unmatched.
"When I was young I wanted to be an engineer, but I couldn't do the math. But the engineers need me," she said. "They better get some visual thinkers on the design team. Sometimes the most obvious is the least obvious because people don't visualize it."
Grandin's visually-inclined mind was the catalyst behind a revolutionized and more humane livestock industry. For example, she designed a cattle restraining system that half the ranchers in America use, including three huge plants in Texas.
"That's doing pretty well for someone they thought was mentally retarded," she said.
Along the way to becoming a doctor of animal science was the unfortunately expected torment of a young person who is "different, but not less," as the 2010 HBO movie about Grandin's life says.
The movie, starring Claire Danes, is perhaps the most well-known glimpse into Grandin's life. And it's mostly all accurate - especially the way autism was portrayed and attempted to be understood, Grandin said.
She may not have set out to be an advocate for autism, but her savvy as an animal scientist has brought to light the "uneven" minds of autism that she so avails. Her connection to animals always at the forefront of her success, Grandin first said she's proud of the systems she's designed that ensure humane treatment of livestock.
"I'm also proud of the fact that the information I put out on autism has helped a lot parents understand their kids and (allow them to) be their best," she added. "That's also a good achievement."