News Article Details

Grandin to speak at ISU on autism, value of 'all kinds of minds'

Pantagraph - 3/31/2019

March 31-- Mar. 31--NORMAL -- Temple Grandin, who has written books and lectured on subjects from animal care to her own autism diagnosis, believes it's important not to limit people with labels.

She will talk about that and more when she presents, "The World Needs All Kinds of Minds" at 7 p.m.April 10 at Illinois State University.

Her keynote address for Science and Technology Week will be in the Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center. It is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Grandin, who didn't speak until she was nearly 4 and wasn't formally diagnosed as autistic until her 40s, has a Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois and has designed livestock handling facilities in the United States and around the World.

"I didn't know I was different. I thought everyone thought in pictures," Grandin said in an interview with The Pantagraph. "I had to learn that people think differently."

Those differences can be beneficial, she notes, pointing to the iPhone.

It works because an artist designed the interface and an engineer designed the hardware/software, she said.

"It's an example of two different kinds of minds working together," said Grandin. "Look at how their skills complement each other."

In 2013, the criteria for a diagnosis of autism was changed to what Grandin described as "a super broad label" that covers people who are scientists to those who can't dress themselves.

The broader definition is good in terms of helping people get services they need, she said, but "I get concerned about how it seems their primary identity is becoming a label."

Instead, Grandin said, "We need to be identifying and building on kids' strengths."

In her lecture at ISU, Grandin plans to talk about great minds of the past, such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, and question whether they would have been able to accomplish what they did if they had a label slapped on them.

"I see too many quirky kids that ought to be working" but aren't because schools and parents aren't teaching basic life skills, Grandin said.

Her advice to parents with children on the autism spectrum is to "stop babying them and overprotecting them. Don't let them be in a room and become a recluse." She noted that her mother took her shopping as a child and she learned how to handle money and plan.

In addressing the situation, "People get way too grandiose," said Grandin. "Fix things one school at a time, one town at a time."

Grandin's lecture is sponsored by the College of Applied Science and Technology and is part of the ISU Speaker Series.

Kara Snyder, an assistant dean at CAST, said as they looked for a keynote speaker, "Temple resonated with us because her story is unique."

Her area of study and research is animal science, which is one of 28 majors in the college, which made her a good fit, said Snyder. There also was interest in her advocacy in the area of autism, she added.

"One of our core values is diversity and inclusion," said Snyder. "She will bring a different perspective in how she thinks."

Grandin is the author of several books, including, "Emergence: Labeled Autistic," "Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism," "Animals in Translation" and "Animals Make Us Human."

"I'm an extremely visual thinker," said Grandin. "It helps me in my work with animals." She explained, "An animal's world is not words. It's picture-based. It remembers sights, smells, touch sensation."

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota


(c)2019 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)

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