I may be mixing my movies about brilliantly challenged people, but “A Beautiful Mind” is a perfect description for Temple Grandin. If you watched the Emmy Awards Sunday you could not help noticing Temple Grandin, decked out in her cowboy finest. If you wondered about all the well-deserved accolades, here is Entertainment Weekly’s review about the HBO biopic of Grandin’s life. Those of us in the autism community have long known and admired Grandin, a renowned advocate for both autism spectrum disorders and animal rights, especially cattle.
When I first learned of my daughter’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, and began researching this disorder, I was lucky enough to find Grandin’s autobiography. Soon I was able to breathe again, as I learned just how much someone with this disorder could accomplish. Grandin earned her doctorate, became a university professor and single-handedly changed the way cattle are brought to the market.
This inspirational winner has been the subject of other films besides the HBO Emmy-award winning documentary. “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow” can be found in its entirety on YouTube. It is worth watching to hear Grandin’s insights into autism from the first person point of view. Grandin describes how much of what she does is as a result of anxiety and the desire to avoid problems. This is a concise, clear explanation of why some of our loved ones act the way they do– the intense anxiety they live with daily; the inability to make a decision which might be wrong. Grandin also discusses what it is like to live with sensory integration issues–how frustrating it is to concentrate with itchy clothing, an annoying sound, the wrong lighting. It is inspirational to understand everything she has managed to overcome due to her autism and accommodate to achieve all her accomplishments.
Grandin explains that she believes the mind of an autistic person and an animal are very similar. She states that the anxiety and panic attacks of an autistic person is comparable to that of an animal that is always alert for threats.
But Grandin says that she would never, given a choice, give up her autism. In this TED interview The World Needs All Kinds of Minds” , she discusses her belief that major technological advances coming out of Silicon Valley would not have been possible without autistic minds, that the world needs autistic minds to advance. People with autism, she states, pay attention to details the rest of us miss; that problems with sensory integration also cause autistics to look at the world from a sensory point of view. The autistic mind is a specialist mind.
Temple Grandin, the child without a voice, has become the voice of reason for autism.