"I am different, not less."
About Temple Grandin:
Today's #wowwomanwednesday knows a lot about overcoming obstacles and the value of different minds.
Mary Temple Grandin (known as Temple) was born August 29, 1947. Temple did not speak until she was three and a half years old. In school, she was teased because kids thought she was weird and different. When she passed in the halls, they would chant “tape recorder” because of her repetitive speech. At the age of 15, she spent a summer at her stepfather’s sister’s ranch in Arizona, which became a starting point for her career with animals. Temple went on to get a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989.
Temple has long been a friend to many animals, including horses and cattle. She has developed equipment and facilities for improved and humane animal handling, specifically for humane slaughtering. Dr. Grandin’s designs came about by trying to understand the animal’s perspective and noticing details that others didn’t see. She believes that animals deserve a decent life and respect. She currently teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and continues to consult with the livestock industry.
The most incredible thing about Dr. Grandin is that she is autistic. She was formally diagnosed with autism as an adult, though her mother hypothesized that Temple was autistic after filling out diagnostic checklist for autism when Temple was a teenager. Dr. Grandin was one of the first adults to publicly disclose that she is autistic and has provided invaluable firsthand insight into the autism spectrum. One unique thing about her is that she thinks almost entirely in pictures, and visual thinking has been invaluable to her work as a designer for animal handling. She attributes visual thinking to seeing the details that others miss. She has helped the world to understand the autistic mind better, and she is one of the most sought after speakers in the autism community and on animal behavior.
Dr. Grandin believes that the world needs different kinds of minds. She believes that many of history’s greatest minds would have been diagnosed with some form of autism if they were alive today.
We all have something to bring to the table. We all notice different things, have different talents and skills, and different physical and emotional capabilities. Dr. Grandin believes that we each have value and something to contribute. We need to embrace our differences and learn from each other - that’s how society grows and problems are solved.
What we learn from Dr. Grandin:
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, but they don't have to limit our abilities. We can use our differences to help others to feel understood and valued.
- Choose an online or local museum to attend. As you look through different exhibits, talk together about the different things you notice. https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours
- Another option is to choose a painting or photograph to look at together. Record details that you notice and feelings that you have while looking at the picture. Talk together about what you observed and felt.
- Read and discuss the "Learning from Temple Grandin" page from the Dear Daughter Journal. Click here to download the free printable.
- Have you noticed things about yourself that may seem different than other people? How can you help someone else understand that difference? How can it be a strength?
- Do you think Temple ever felt discouraged by being different? What would you tell someone that felt discouraged or sad because they felt different or misunderstood?
- What things did you both/all notice from the exhibits/painting? What were the different things that were not noticed by everyone? How can you appreciate a different perspective than your own? What value does it have?
For more "Learn from..." pages and prompts like the one above, check out our Dear Daughter Journal which is filled with valuable life lessons that you can discuss with your daughter. It is an interactive journal between daughter and parents to help keep an open and honest communication.