Last night’s Emmy awards provided the Autism community with cause for celebration to say the least. As one of the world’s most famous adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Temple Grandin has made a name for herself well beyond the confines of her diagnosis. Dr. Grandin was diagnosed with Autism in 1950. Yes that is not a typo she was diagnosed in 1950 and barely spoke before she was 3.5-years-old.
Despite the many challenges that she faced at a time when ASD was barely a footnote in the medical community, Temple and her mother Eustacia Cutler found a way to surpass the expectations of everyone around her and today she is one of the most respected women in the cattle industry with a PhD in animal science. Temple has revolutionized the design of cattle chutes in processing facilities for the likes of Burger King, McDonalds and more than half of the facilities in the United States.
Thanks to the vision of HBO that has produced the full-length film Temple Grandin, the entire world watched last night and wondered just who “that woman in the cowgirl shirt” was as her story received trophy after trophy for a total of 5 Emmys including Best Made for Television Movie. She has been featured on NPR (National Public Radio), major television programs, such as the BBC special “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow”, ABC’s Primetime Live, The Today Show, Larry King Live, 48 Hours and 20/20. Grandin was also recently named one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 People of 2010.
Now you might be wondering why all of this is such a big deal. Grandin did not rest on her notoriety as a person, let alone a woman with ASD. She relied on defining herself solely through her many books about Autism, countless lectures and thousands of hours she has given to inspire young people with ASD to look beyond their limitations. Temple is a role model and iconic figure because she is so much more than her own label. She is a gifted professional, author, and speaker whose identity is defined by her own actions. We can ask for no more than that from any of our children as they become adults.
It is the vision of The University of Toledo Center for Excellence in Autism to build a continuum of services and research opportunities that satisfy the dynamic needs of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) across the lifespan. Our goal is to allow young people with ASD to build the necessary skills to open doors for independence and an improved quality of life as adults.
On September 23, 2010 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg, OH we will get this conversation started with our First Annual Critical Issues in Autism Conference [PDF]. Presenters will look at the connections between ASD and the environment, coexisting mental health issues across the lifespan and the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. Click here for more information or to register and help us share this event on Facebook by inviting your friends. We hope that you can join us.