Autism activist, best-selling author, and renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin to speak April 18
Friday, April 13, 2012
portrait of Temple Grandin

Photo provided by Damon Brooks Associates.

Temple Grandin, widely considered to be the most accomplished and best-known adult with autism in the world, will speak in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 18.

Her lecture, “Animals, Humans, and Sensory Thinking,” is free and open to the public. It is presented by the University Lecture Committee.

Grandin, 64, was diagnosed with autism in 1950. She tells her story of "groping her way from the far side of darkness" in Emergence: Labeled Autistic, a book that stunned the world because, until its publication, most professionals and parents assumed that an autism diagnosis was virtually a death sentence to achievement or productivity in life.

Even though she was considered "weird" in her young school years, Grandin eventually found a mentor who recognized her interests and abilities. She holds master of science and doctoral degrees in animal science, and has a successful career as a livestock-handling equipment designer. Half of the cattle in the United States are handled in facilities she designed.

Grandin has become a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism because, as she writes in Emergence, "… there are still many parents, and yes, professionals too, who believe that 'once autistic, always autistic.' This dictum has meant sad and sorry lives for many children diagnosed, as I was in early life, as autistic. To these people, it is incomprehensible that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled. However, I feel strongly that I am living proof that they can."

Her life was depicted in a 2010 award-winning HBO film starring Claire Danes. That year, Grandin also was honored as one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Grandin's current best-selling book on autism is The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's. She also authored Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, Animals Make Us Human, Animals in Translation, and Thinking in Pictures, and produced several DVDs.