Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending a conference that included a presentation by Dr. Temple Grandin. For those who haven’t heard of her, Dr. Grandin is a professor at the University of Colorado; she has developed methods of making conditions more humane for cattle; she has written multiple books.
And she’s autistic.
I hadn’t heard of her until about two years ago, when HBO premiered its movie about her life, starring Claire Danes. Dr. Grandin’s story is remarkable. She was born at a time when autism was barely mentioned, and when it was, it was considered to be the result of a “refrigerator mother.” Dr. Grandin’s mother fought that, and fought to do the best for her daughter. Growing up, Temple was educated with her “normal” peers and was encouraged to go to college.
I have a daughter with Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder that’s considered to be part of the autism spectrum. My daughter doesn’t really understand the social rules of the world (then again, sometimes neither do I) and has some very intense interests and doesn’t always understand why she can’t share those interests for hours with everyone around her.
My daughter is thirteen, and has already come a very long way. Seeing Dr. Grandin gives me hope that my daughter, who wants to become a veterinarian, will be able to reach her goals and dreams.