Temple Grandin

Sometimes I like to bitch about living in a college town. For instance, trying to get anywhere in Ann Arbor on a football Saturday sets my teeth on edge. During the summers, I forget that the students will eventually come back. Those first few weeks in September my beloved Depot Town becomes overrun with drunken 21-year-olds that don’t even appreciate good beer and I spend any foray into Ann Arbor slamming on my breaks because Michigan students, although generally very bright,  have never learned how to cross the street properly.

However, when I did NOT live in a college town, I learned that I missed it terribly. You get certain types of events and opportunities in college towns that you don’t get in other places. I got all starry-eyed in June when the Michigan Theater screened “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Tonight, Noe and I got to attend a lecture by Temple Grandinfor free.

Photo from Grandin's website

Temple Grandin hit my radar over the winter because I happened to read something about an HBO movie starring Claire Danes. I’m a Claire Danes fan in general, and the article made the subject – an autistic woman who went on to become a major figure in the animal science world partially because of contraptions she designed for slaughterhouses – sounded extremely interesting.

The Claire Danes HBO biopic

I did some internet research on Temple Grandin and decided she was fascinating. I shared my findings with Noe, and he got interested as well. We watched the movie and loved it, then sort of forgot about Temple until we happened to see on AnnArbor.com that she’d be at the Michigan Theater as part of the UM College of Art and Design’s Distinguished Speaker series.

The Distinguished Speaker series is open to the public – and it’s free.

We headed downtown shortly after 4:00 (the event was supposed to begin at 5:10) and the line already stretched halfway down the block. Shortly after we got in line, the theater staff opened the doors. We were able to get really good seats, and we watched as the theater filled up.

Temple Grandin proved to be a very entertaining speaker – informative, candid, and very no-nonsense. Her way of breaking down the way she thinks and how it differs from how “normal” people think is incredibly clear and makes a lot of sense. Her passion for animals combined with the fact that her most famous design work has been done for slaughter houses makes for incredible Q&A. The thing with Temple Grandin is there is SO MUCH she can speak to or that you could ask her – autism, animal issues, and design were just the tip of the iceberg.

Temple spoke for about an hour, and then took some questions from the audience. She is extremely opinionated, but very logical and very passionate. It was a wonderful lecture and I feel very lucky that we were able to attend.

If you get the chance to view the movie, you should definitely watch it – Claire Danes is fantastic, and after seeing Temple in person (and hearing Temple’s high praise of the movie) I really think she nailed the performance. And if you get the chance to see Temple in person, you should definitely go – you will not be sorry.


One thought on “Temple Grandin

  1. I also thought it was amazing, although I couldn’t seem to control myself, when she was introduced I started leaking a little and cried a little tear nearly every 5 minutes. It’s just so inspiring to see an adult with autism that functions so well in our society. The one question I wish had been answered was how her visual processing in specific and autism in general impacts her adult relationships, as that is my biggest long term concern for Kyan. I went up to the front after it was done and watched people talking to her, telling her how much she has impacted their lives and inspired them. It was fascinating, up close interacting with people made her autistic mannerisms very obvious which was both reassuring and disturbing. I don’t know that anybody has the answers I want for Kyan’s future, but I wish I could have brought her home in my pocket and quizzed her thoroughly.
    Thanks so much for the heads up, I owe you one.

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