A passionate and influential advocate for the humane treatment of animals, Temple Grandin is the world's most accomplished and well-known adult with high-functioning autism. The 2010 HBO movie based on her early life, starring Claire Danes, received seven Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.
Grandin has a doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois, and she has been professor of animal science at Colorado State University since 1990. She specializes in livestock behavior and has pioneered the field of farm-animal welfare — using the insights gained from her autism to design humane livestock-handling systems that have revolutionized animal agriculture around the world. Her innovations in equipment and auditing systems have changed the livestock industry, improving profitability and assuring consumers about the integrity of the food system.
To the public at large, Grandin is known for explaining how animals think. Her 2005 book, Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, spent weeks on The New York Times Bestsellers list.
Grandin thinks in pictures rather than words and is hypersensitive to noise and other sensory stimuli. She did not talk until she was nearly four years old, communicating instead by screaming, peeping and humming. Although she exhibited autistic traits such as emotional distance, rocking and fixation, professionals did not recognize her condition as autism for several years. In 1950 her parents were told she should be institutionalized. Grandin recounts groping her way "from the far side of darkness" in her 1986 book Emergence: Labeled Autistic — a book that stunned the world because until it was published an autism diagnosis was generally regarded as a virtual death sentence to achievement and productivity in life.
She was placed in a structured nursery school and considers herself fortunate to have had determined parents, good teachers and mentors throughout her schooling. Grandin is especially grateful to a high school science teacher who helped her develop her unique strengths through science experiments. He opened his home to Grandin and took the time to develop her problem-solving skills and motivate her to study. She later attended a special boarding school with dairy cows and a stable with horses — an experience that led to her career in animal behavior. "Animals saved me," Grandin says.
She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1970 from Franklin Pierce College, a small liberal arts school in New Hampshire. She received her master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and her Ph.D. in 1989. At Colorado State University she has taught hundreds of undergraduate students principles of livestock behavior, humane handling and animal welfare. She also advises graduate students who are studying and researching welfare issues in animal agriculture. She mentors and advocates for students who might otherwise lack the inspiration and motivation to succeed.
In 2010 Time magazine included Grandin on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people, in the "Heroes" category. A popular speaker, Grandin has been featured on NPR and major television programs including BBC-TV's The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow, ABC’s Primetime Live, The Today Show, Larry King Live, 48 Hours and 20/20. She has been the subject of articles in People, Forbes and The New York Times. Grandin first became well known after being profiled by neurologist Oliver Sacks in his 1995 book,
An Anthropologist on Mars.
Grandin’s recent books include The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum (2013), Different … Not Less (2012), The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s (2008, revised and expanded 2011) and Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals (2009). She has also produced several DVDs.
Financial: Dr. Temple Grandin has an employment relationship with Colorado State University. She is author of numerous books by a variety of publishers including Future Horizons Inc. and receives royalties. She has DVD/CD products produced by PESI, Inc. and receives royalties. Dr. Grandin is a speaker for Future Horizons Inc. and receives compensation.
Non-Financial: Dr. Temple Grandin is an adult with high functioning autism.