World Autism Day, observed on April 2nd, serves as an effort to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism. Diagnosed with autism at a young age Temple Grandin is not only a world class designer of livestock facilities, she is also considered to be one of the foremost speakers about autism spectrum disorder.
Using her unique ways of thinking she has become one of the world’s few designers of facilities for livestock handling. Farms in countries around the world including the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia are using Grandin’s designs to provide better care for the animals and adopting her practices to make it safer for the human workers. Nearly half of all cattle processed for slaughter in North America are handled in a center track restrainer system she designed and her curve and chute system is used worldwide. To help improve animal welfare she designed an objective scoring system that assesses handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants that has been implemented by many large corporations.
With the recent increase in the number of children being diagnosed with some form of autism, there has been a greater emphasis on understanding this disorder. Grandin has written numerous books on the topic and speaks at conferences sharing her own experiences of how she has harnessed her brain differences to lead a productive life. Not a fan of labels she feels that too often a child’s weaknesses become the sole focus of interventions and she suggests instead building up their strengths. Grandin also speaks about the importance of teaching practical social skills to children with autism so they can interact with the world as they become adults. For her, the skills that people with autism bring to the table should be nurtured to bring benefit to the person as well as society.
Dr. Grandin holds a doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois and is currently a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University as well as speaking about autism around the world.
Written by Angela Goad