Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dr Temple Grandin: Fighting the war against Autism.

'I think in images, words are something new for me.' This was said by Dr Temple Grandin who  is an American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University. She was suffering from Autism because of which she wasn't able to remember words properly so her way of interacting had to be the image  her mind formed. 

She says: ' I translate words into complete colorful images and they run in my brain just as a video recorder or a tape does.' Basically Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Some people have extreme and some people suffer just minor. 

Dr Temple Grandin for sure was one of the persons who had suffered Autism in severe condition but she tried her best to come over it and not only did she came over it she wrote several books and papers on people suffering from this disease and their feelings. Along with human brains she also worked on animal brain and made important discoveries about their behavior. 

Dr Temple Grandin was born on August 29, 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts, to Richard Grandin and Eustacia Cutler. She was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 in 1950. Diagnosed and labeled with brain damage, at that early age she was placed in a structured nursery school with what she considers to have been good teachers. Grandin's mother spoke to a doctor who suggested speech therapy, and she hired a nanny who spent hours playing turn-based games with Grandin and her sister.

At age four, Grandin began talking. She considers herself lucky to have had supportive mentors from primary school onwards. However, Grandin has said that middle and high school were the worst parts of her life. She was the "nerdy kid" whom everyone teased. At times, while she walked down the street, people would taunt her by saying "tape recorder," because she would repeat things over and over again. Grandin states that "I could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt.

After graduating from a boarding school for gifted children in 1966, Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.

She has noted in her autobiographical works that autism affects every aspect of her life. She has to wear comfortable clothes to counteract her sensory integration dysfunction and has structured her lifestyle to avoid sensory overload. She regularly takes anti-depressants, but no longer uses a squeeze-box (hug machine) that she invented at the age of 18 as a form of stress relief therapy, stating in February 2010 that: “It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I'm into hugging people now.”

When she was 16 she visited her aunt during her summer vacations. Her aunt was fond of animals so there were many of them in the fields. Here Grandin saw a machine, all the animals after passing through this machine felt very relaxed after which it was very easy to give them treatment. This machine was called square shot, Grandin felt if this machine can cure animals it can also work on human beings. She came back home and started working on such machine that will work on releasing her depression. This also made her realize that animal brain and the brain of autism also had some similarity. 

Grandin became well known after being described by Oliver Sacks in the title narrative of his book An Anthropologist on Mars (1995); the title is derived from Grandin's description of how she feels around neurotypical people. Grandin received an honorary doctorate degree from the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at the 2012 Winter Convocation, where she was the keynote speaker. On May 16, 2010, Grandin also received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Duke University.

The subject of an award-winning biographical film, Temple Grandin, in 2010, she was listed in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category.


  1. I'm always telling my friends that I'm suffering from Autism and sometimes I think it's Alzhimer's. -.-
    That is one great woman though.

  2. @Yusra : Or may be short term memory loss? in simple words :D

  3. Yeah, well I'm complicated, you see. Simple stuff just doesn't work for me. :P

  4. hahahaha that sure was pretty complicated :D