Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Temple Grandin's Voice

Temple Grandin, the best-selling author and animal expert who has autism, broadcast an essay this week as part of National Public Radio's "This I Believe" series of personal statements that guide peoples' lives. Listen to Grandin's essay, "Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures," by clicking here.

If you are just learning about Grandin, you are likely to find her message positive and hopeful (even as her voice sounds a bit flat in her delivery). She explains that she assembles thoughts using sensory impressions -- sights, sounds and feelings from her memory -- rather than abstract concepts like most people. "I believe that doing practical things can make the world a better place," she announces. "And one of the features of being autistic is that I'm good at synthesizing lots of information and creating systems out of it."

In this long conversation Grandin had in 2005 with Terry Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air," the story gets more interesting. Yes, she has a high-functioning spot on the autism spectrum, but she's overcome a number of challenges our children face: emotional estrangement, educational hurdles, anxiety, discomfort with unfamiliar situations and sensations. She's been taking anti-depressants for two decades, and attributes her successful life and career to the calming effects of the medication.

By inviting Grandin to speak about her views on life, NPR puts her in the position of speaking for an entire population of people with autism. That might seem unfair, but it's a position she has cultivated in her books, including Animals in Translation and Thinking in Pictures. And Grandin's "This I Believe" piece and her interview with Terry Gross make her sound like an inspiring figure. She told Gross:

"Another thing about being autistic, there's no magic turning point. It's a gradual emergence. You just keep learning more and more and more. It's like you never really grow up. I didn't feel like I was a really grown up adult until I was 45."

1 comment:

lorax3283 said...

If this woman sincerely loved animals and knew how they felt, as she claims, why would she help to kill them? She is getting paid to satisfy the human palate, not the human or animal heart! She is not only killing animals, but contributing to global warming. What a phony! What a pity! I would like the chance to tell her how much I love animals and that I would never help anyone kill animals, as she does. Very sad, this phony woman! I welcome your response, maybe an invitation to tell her in person to stop helping horrendous businesses as McDonalds in their mass production of poor animals just to butcher them. Maybe she needs to walk on the other side of the fence?! Thank you for the chance to tell this phony how I feel. I hope she gets this message & thinks about it until she feels the pain in her heart exactly what these animals feel. And then stop contributing to their suffering. Thank you