Dr Temple Grandin
The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow
|Dr Temple Grandin
The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow
Temple Grandin is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior.
The amazing story of Dr Temple Grandin's ability to read the animal mind, which has made her the most famous autistic woman on the planet. She has noted in her autobiographical works that autism affects every aspect of her life.
She has to wear comfortable clothes to counteract her sensory integration dysfunction and has structured her lifestyle to avoid sensory overload.
She regularly takes anti-depressants, but no longer uses a squeeze-box (hug machine) that she invented at the age of 18 as a form of stress relief therapy, stating in February 2010 that: “It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I'm into hugging people now.”
As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is also widely noted for her work in autism advocacy and is the inventor of the squeeze machine designed to calm hypersensitive persons.
Grandin is listed in the 2010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the category “Heroes”.
Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Richard Grandin and Eustacia Cutler. She was diagnosed with autism in 1950.
Having been labeled and diagnosed with brain damage at age two, she was placed in a structured nursery school with what she considers to have been good teachers.
Grandin's mother spoke to a doctor who suggested speech therapy, and she hired a nanny who spent hours playing turn-based games with Grandin and her sister.
At age four, Grandin began talking, and making progress. She considers herself lucky to have had supportive mentors from primary school onwards.
However, Grandin has said that middle and high school were the worst parts of her life. She was the "nerdy kid" whom everyone teased.
At times, while walking down the street, people would taunt her by saying "tape recorder," because she would repeat things over and over again.
Grandin states that, "I could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt."
After graduating from Hampshire Country School, a boarding school for gifted children in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1966, Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, her master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and her doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.
Based on personal experience, Grandin advocates early intervention to address autism, and supportive teachers who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions.
She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She claims she is a primarily visual thinker and has said that words are her second language.
Temple attributes her success as a humane livestock facility designer to her ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of her visual memory. Grandin compares her memory to full-length movies in her head that can be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details.
She is also able to view her memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows. Her insight into the minds of cattle has taught her to value the changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive, and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal-handling equipment.
She was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in 2009.
Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds
Grandin is considered a philosophical leader of both the animal welfare and autism advocacy movements.
Both movements commonly cite her work regarding animal welfare, neurology, and philosophy.
She knows all too well the anxiety of feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings, and of being dismissed and feared, which motivates her in her quest to promote humane livestock handling processes.
Her business web site has entire sections on how to improve standards in slaughter plants and livestock farms. In 2004 she won a "Proggy" award, in the "visionary" category, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
One of her most important essays about animal welfare is “Animals are not Things”, in which she posits that animals are technically property in our society, but the law ultimately gives them ethical protections or rights.
She compares the properties and rights of owning cows versus owning screwdrivers, enumerating how both can be utilized to serve human purposes in many ways but, when it comes to inflicting pain, there is a vital distinction between such 'properties': a person can legally smash or grind up a screwdriver but cannot legally torture an animal.
As a partial proponent of neurodiversity, Grandin has expressed that she would not support a cure of the entirety of the autistic spectrum.