Temple Grandin held two speaking engagements in Bellingham Tuesday, including an informal question-and-answer session with hundreds of audience members at Western on "How Families and Schools Can Support Individuals with Autism."
Grandin, an animal scientist, inspirational speaker and autism self-advocate, also spoke to about 900 people at the Mount Baker Theatre in the evening.
Her appearances, both free of charge to those who attended, were co-sponsored by the Ershig Assistive Technology Resource Center at Western's Woodring College of Education and by the Bellingham School District, with special thanks to A. Herbert and Billee Ershig.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world. Her fascinating life, with all its challenges and successes, has been brought to the screen with the HBO full-length film “Temple Grandin,” starring Claire Danes.
Grandin is a speaker who inspires and motivates others through her story. She didn't talk until she was three-and-a-half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. She recounts “groping her way from the far side of darkness” in her book “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, she eventually found a mentor who recognized her interests and abilities. Grandin later developed her talents into a successful career as a livestock-handling equipment designer, one of very few in the world. She has now designed the facilities in which half the cattle are handled in the United States, consulting for firms such as Burger King, McDonald's, Swift, and others.
Grandin currently works as a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and speaks around the world on both autism and cattle handling. She has been featured on NPR and major television programs and has been written about in many national publications. She was included in Time magazine’s annual “2010 Time 100” list of the world’s most influential people. Among numerous other recognitions by the media, Bravo did a half-hour show on her life and she was featured in the best-selling book “Anthropologist from Mars.”
Grandin's current best-selling book on autism is “The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s.”