Woman Known As Global Self-Advocate For Those With Autism To Speak On South Coast

May 9, 2016

She’s known worldwide as the adult face of autism.

Temple Grandin couldn’t talk until she was three years old, and was diagnosed with autism in 1950. It was an era when treatment for autism was institutionalization, but her parents didn’t give up.

Neither did she.

Grandin has led an incredible life, becoming a university professor, author of multiple books, and has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. She was also the subject of the  Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning HBO biopic “Temple Grandin.”

One of her big goals in life is to help people understand autism. Gradin says autism has given her the ability to think in images. As a teenager she developed what’s known as a “hug box," a device someone with autism could use to apply pressure to their body, to calm then when they are experiencing episodes of hypertension.

That ability to solve problems through mental images helped her become a leading designer of livestock handling equipment. She’s currently an animal science professor at Colorado State University.

Grandin is still best known for her advocacy for those with autism. Grandin believes while we are better at diagnosing autism at a younger age, treatment remains a huge issue.  One of the big problems for those with autism is a lack of traditional social skills, like the ability to make and keep friends. The person can be brilliant, but have a hard time relating to others.

Grandin says kids, autistic or not, aren’t getting the same basic rules they did a decade ago to allow them to acclimate into society. The author and lecturer says that those with autism do well when they are taught the rules that those of us not on the spectrum pick up intuitively as we grow. 

She worries that well intentioned parents of autistic children often hinder development by sheltering their children, but Grandin says the good news is that in addition to being better at diagnosing autism, we are showing great progress in early intervention programs, as well as dealing with severe cases of it.

Temple Grandin will speak at Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater Tuesday night (5/10). She’ll talk about the ideas in her book “Different Kinds Of Minds Contribute To Society,” and do a book signing afterwards.

The 8 P.M. event is sponsored by UC Santa Barbara’s Arts and Lectures.