Temple Grandin is my Hero

 

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It’ s no wonder that meeting Dr. Temple Grandin was on my bucket list! She is the most influential women in autism. This last weekend I got to meet one of my biggest heroes! I have read many of her books and admired her contributions to people living with autism and their families, but meeting this amazing woman was a highlight of my life!

6 years ago I missed the opportunity to meet Temple Grandin when she visited my small town. I didn’t hear about her talk until the day of and I was already extremely busy. In hindsight, I should have dropped everything to go and hear Dr. Temple Grandin speak. I have kicked myself several times for missing this event. I don’t even remember what I was doing instead, that at the time seemed more important. This spring I decided to take back the opportunity and make up for it. On a whim, I looked up her speaking schedule and purchased tickets to a benefit dinner for Horse Tales Equine Rescue and Autism Speaks held in Shingle Springs, CA. My husband, Steve, attended the event this last weekend. There were over 600 guests in attendance, a mixture or horse enthusiasts and families in the autism community. Temple spoke with eloquence, addressing both crowds in unison. I had the opportunity to ask her about her thoughts on aggression in individuals with autism. Her response was humbling. She said that she had expressed aggression in her early years. The thing that changed everything for her was learning how to cry. She said that crying was a validating outlet for aggression that doesn’t harm others and yet lets out all the emotions that get blocked up inside. What a powerful explanation for such a misunderstood behaviour!

I have always admired Temple Grandin for her perseverance as an autistic woman in a neurotypical world. Her passion for helping people understand the autistic brain can be seen when she is describing how she thinks in pictures. She has an amazing way of connecting with her audience and sharing her authentic experience with autism.  She has authored * and several more on animal behaviour that are essential resources to any autism library. I am always grateful for her first had perspective on issues that I can relate to my son who is living with autism. The way she describes how her brain processes information in pictures has expanded my understanding of communication immensely. I am motivated to read every one of her books so that I can learn more about my own son and about autism in general!

If you haven’t watched the movie about her titled “Temple Grandin,” it is something that you should do at your earliest convenience. Claire Danes does an amazing job of portraying Temple in this movie about her early life and how she learned how to succeed in a neurotypical world and how she became an animal expert. There are so many simple autism lessons wrapped up in her story. If there is only one thing that I would like to take from her life it is that her mother believed in her and that she could do anything; not just as a fluffy ideal, but to the point that she pushed Temple out of her comfort zone and propelled her into finding her success.

Meeting Temple Grandin has been one of the highlights of my career as an Autism Mom and as a human being. She took the time to sign her book for my son, Cole. She asked me about him and recommended a course of action to take from here. Her input into my life, into Cole’s life, is invaluable!

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