Professor Temple Grandin is one of the most influential thought leaders, inventors, authors and autism allies of the last half-century.
She is a woman, who has turned her pain, into purpose; channeling her unique abilities as a person with high functioning autism, into a global movement of advocacy and inclusion.
“I wanted to prove I wasn’t stupid, ” says Professor Grandin. “A Socialist is what makes the world go round… what makes my world go round is figuring things out I like problem-solving, “Grandin said.
Professor Grandin’s story begins with a mother, determined to defy the times, and provide her daughter with services, not readily available. She could not speak until the age of four, but her mother found early intervention services. Grandin could not read until she was eight. The practice, coming to her only after she was introduced to phonics.
Grandin credits her mother with encouraging her to draw, to find things that interested her– and build on it.
She found elementary school to be a safe space, where she was protected by her teachers. However, high school was not. She was ousted for an altercation with a fellow student and transferred to a special school.
It was a serendipitous move, that put her on a path to greatness.
The school allowed Grandin to run its horse ban, which exposed her to livestock.
Grandin is the architect of the guidelines surrounding humane animal slaughter.
The HBO movie, staring Claire Danes, demonstrates how her ideas, leapt from the paper, and morphed into industry altering guidelines.
It was the first time she was labeled a genius… and later, helped earn her TIME magazine’s honor of “One of the Most Influential People in the World.”
She also invented what’s known as the “hug machine”, an idea that arose on her Aunt’s ranch, after Grandin struggled with sensory issues, a common problem for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
“We were driving back from shopping and we stopped by to watch them vaccinate some cattle… They squeeze them in, to hold them their during the vaccinations… It kept them relaxed… So, I went and tried it and then went and built one, with padding on it, ” says Grandin.
The hug machine is the source of inspiration for a whole host of inventions: thunder shirts for dogs, weighted vests and weighted blankets.
At the age of 73, with her legacy well established, Professor Grandin is laser focused on one thing: advocating for children in need.
“Where we are falling down is with the teenagers. They are not learning job skills, life skills,” says Grandin. “Music, theater, cooking, sewing, shop auto-mechanics, if you have them in schools, these kids get to experience more things they can turn into a career.”
That ability, that foresight, to set these young adults up for success, has the potential to replenish a pipeline of jobs that require a different kind of brain. For many, they are trapped in a system that perpetuates the stigma of autism.
Professor Grandin told Fox 5: “I’m concerned that we have too many smart people shunned into special ed… They don’t fit.., ” says Grandin.
How different a world it would be, if we could all see the world through Professor Grandin’s beautiful mind, Where ability and purpose, intersect.