I finally got a chance to see it early this week. I thought HBO did an excellent job chronicling Temple Grandin’s many accomplishments, as well as some of the huge obstacles she has faced throughout her life. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Temple Grandin, you need to be!
Temple Grandin has autism. However, she also has a PhD and has revolutionized the way cattle are handled. Because of her efforts and ideas, cattle in the United States are treated much more humanely and safely.
I thought Claire Danes did an excellent job as Temple Grandin. The movie focuses mainly on Temple Grandin’s high school and college years. Temple Grandin was born in 1947, when very little was known about autism and doctors told mothers to institutionalize children with autism. Life growing up was never easy for Temple Grandin. She was constantly teased at school and college for being different and was met with tremendous opposition for trying to work in the cattle industry, which was at that time a completely male dominated field. The cinematography also does an excellent job capturing what it is like for Temple Grandin to think in pictures.
For more information on “thinking in pictures,” check out this short lecture given by Temple Grandin from TED.com. It is fascinating to hear her talk about how she thinks, as well as some of her views about autism and animals. The talk is entitled “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.”
Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
Temple Grandin sees her ideas and thoughts as pictures. She also has an amazing photographic memory as well as heightened senses. Heightened senses are common for people with autism. For instance, some children and adults with autism cannot stand certain loud noises, strange textures or bright lights. This can hinder their ability to function in our normally loud, bright, and crazy world.
Temple Grandin’s attention to detail gives her a huge advantage when designing safe and efficient feed lots, slaughter houses and other facilities for handling cattle. Cattle, as prey animals, are super aware of their environment. They have to be to survive–if you think something’s about to eat you, it’s better to run first, then check and see what it is. Temple Grandin is able to notice any little feature that might startle or scare cattle–a shiny object hanging on the wall, a creaky gate, or a strange texture on the floor. She uses her knowledge to help design more humane equipment and procedures for handling cattle.
I have read a handful of Temple Grandin’s books. Her unique perspective means she is able to offer interesting insights about how we treat people and animals. Check out some of these previous posts for some of my favorite parts from her books.
Did you see the Temple Grandin movie? I’d be curious to hear what you thought of the movie or of her books, if you’ve read any of them. (Also, if you missed the Temple Grandin movie when it originally aired, it is now available from Netflix.)