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Dr. Temple Grandin: world-renowned autism activist and animal behaviorist

Colorado State University

Dr. Temple Grandin grew up with autism in the 1950s when the disorder was not well-understood. She did not talk until she was three and a half years old and back then many children with speech delays were institutionalized. But, her mother refused to let that happen so took her to the world's leading special needs researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, and that led them to a neurologist who suggested an early form of speech therapy which allowed her to enter kindergarten with her peers.

Dr. Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in human psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1989.

Her first book, Emergence: Labeled Autistic, provided what was at the time an unprecedented exploration of how people with autism think and perceive, and navigate the world. It also helped break down years of shame and stigma for people with autism because she was one of the first adults to publicly disclose that she was autistic.

Dr. Grandin is now a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, and her insights on animal behavior have revolutionized the livestock industry because of her unique understanding of cattle behavior. More than half of the cattle in North America are raised and processed in systems designed by Grandin.

Over her career she has written scores of scientific papers, and numerous books including her latest, Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions. She was even the focus of a semi-biographical HBO film called Temple Grandin.

She joins us in advance of her talk on Saturday, January 7 at 1:30 p.m. at the Christ Community Church in Fort Myers. It’s part of the nonprofit Family Initiative’s ‘Redefining Autism’ speaker series. It's open to the public and registration is not required. Click here to learn more.

Click here to watch her 2010 TED Talk which has been viewed more than 6-million times.