En­gag­ing speaker

Large crowd shows up to hear Tem­ple Grandin in Bi­ble Hill

Truro Daily News - - Front Page - BY LYNN CURWIN

Tem­ple Grandin shared her in­sights on di er­ent ways of think­ing, and a va­ri­ety of other top­ics dear to her.

A sense of be­long­ing – many crave it, not every­one ac­quires it.

Tem­ple Grandin shared some of her in­sights on dif­fer­ent ways of think­ing, an­i­mal wel­fare and what’s needed in to­day’s world, when she spoke at the Dal AC cam­pus in Bi­ble Hill, Sept. 27.

Grandin’s pre­sen­ta­tion was part of the Be­long Fo­rums, de­signed to look at what it would take to cre­ate a world where peo­ple feel they be­long.

“When I was a lit­tle kid I was a se­verely autis­tic kid,” said Grandin.

To­day, she’s a pro­fes­sor, au­thor, pub­lic speaker, and a con­sul­tant on live­stock han­dling equip­ment de­sign and an­i­mal wel­fare.

“One of the things I’m get­ting very con­cerned about to­day is a lot of stu­dents aren’t very good at hands-on skills,” she said.

“I teach a class in live­stock han­dling and I’ve been find­ing the last five years that stu­dents are hav­ing more and more trou­ble do­ing the draw­ing as­sign­ment to de­sign a cat­tle-han­dling fa­cil­ity be­cause they’ve never used a ruler; and I’ve talked to a pro­fes­sor here that teaches a class in aqua where they have to draw a fish farm and they’re hav­ing ex­actly the same prob­lem.”

Grandin feels chil­dren need to tin­ker with things, that their in­ter­ests should be en­cour­aged and ex­panded on. She also be­lieves young peo­ple should have re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. She had jobs sewing, clean­ing out horse stalls, and work­ing on her aunt’s ranch while grow­ing up.

“I’m see­ing too many peo­ple where their dis­abil­ity is be­com­ing their whole en­tire iden­tity,” she said. “A lot of peo­ple in my gen­er­a­tion learned how to work at an early age

“I have a lot of grand­dads com­ing up to me and they’re find­ing

they’re on the autism spec­trum when the kids get di­ag­nosed, but grand­daddy had a pa­per route at age 11.

“Man­ners and so­cial skills were taught in a much more con­crete way. When we made a mis­take, we were told what we should be do­ing.”

When Grandin was young, she be­lieved ev­ery­body thought in pic­tures – that’s the way she thinks. Now she rec­og­nizes that, along with vis­ual thinkers, there are word thinkers and math­e­mat­i­cal thinkers.

“The first step in fig­ur­ing out how dif­fer­ent minds can work to­gether is re­al­iz­ing they ex­ist,” she said.

“The thing about autism is, it’s just part of brain vari­abil­ity. In the milder forms, autism is sim­ply a per­son­al­ity vari­ant.”

Grandin has de­signed sys­tems for live­stock han­dling, in­tended to cause the an­i­mal the least stress pos­si­ble. She is of­ten hired as a con­sul­tant for the beef in­dus­try.

“I feel very strongly that we need to give an­i­mals a de­cent life,” she said. “A lot of prob­lems are caused be­cause peo­ple aren’t look­ing at what the an­i­mal is see­ing. When sim­ple things are changed, it of­ten fixes the prob­lem.”

While much of her work in­volved live­stock, she’s con­cerned about all an­i­mals.

“We have dogs that can’t breathe prop­erly, and pass out on air­planes,” she said. “Why are we breed­ing these? I have a prob­lem with peo­ple breed­ing an­i­mals that aren’t func­tional? They’re a prime ex­am­ple of hu­mans wreck­ing an­i­mals, and I have prob­lems with that.”

LYNN CURWIN/TRURO NEWS

Tem­ple Grandin spoke at Dal AC, as part of the Be­long Forum. She is a well-known an­i­mal sci­en­tist and a spokesper­son on autism.

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