Temple Grandin Wants Us to Think Differently About Kids Who Think Differently

“Don’t put me on the McDonald’s takeout window,” Temple Grandin said over Zoom from her home in Fort Collins, Colo. “Not going to do very well there — can’t multitask, cannot follow long strings of verbal instruction.” It’s a little humbling to hear what Grandin says she can’t do, considering how insubstantial it is compared with what she can do and has done. The author, scientist and Colorado State University professor is as responsible as anyone for broadening our understanding of autism, through her tireless lecturing and the many books she has written on the subject. (“Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism,” published in 1995, is the classic.) Grandin, who is 74, also helped transform the meat industry through her design of more humane handling systems for livestock. Though she has been so influential on how we think and feel about autism and animal welfare, it’s the more tangible things that matter most to her. “I am interested in my practical projects,” Grandin says. “Where I can actually do stuff.”


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