Temple Grandin is a name that is widely recognized in both the fields of animal science and autism advocacy. Her unique perspective as an individual with autism has allowed her to make groundbreaking contributions to these areas, changing the way we understand and interact with both animals and individuals on the autism spectrum in the United States.

Grandin is a professor, best-selling author, animal behaviorist, and autism self-advocate in top demand as an international speaker. An extraordinary inspiration for autistic children and their parents, she is the subject of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning HBO film, Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes and Julia Ormond, and she was also one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010.

Who is Temple Grandin and what is she known for?

Temple Grandin is a renowned animal scientist, author, and advocate for autism and animal rights. Grandin, who herself has autism, is known for her innovative designs in animal handling facilities that focus on the humane treatment of livestock.

The Beginning: A Glimpse into Grandin’s Early Years

Credit: Scholl Community Impact Group

From an early age, Temple Grandin faced numerous challenges due to her autism. Temple Grandin was not diagnosed well until her 40s. She did not talk until the age of three and a half. However, she was fortunate enough to do speech therapy at an early age.

Her teachers also taught her to take turns when playing. With the support of her family, she was able to overcome these challenges and develop into a successful scientist and advocate.

Her personal experiences and struggles, along with her parents’ support, have fueled her passion for making a difference in the lives of others with autism, as well as in the meat industry. Temple Grandin’s disability is never been an excuse for doing less with her life.

Today, Grandin is a highly respected professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, where she continues to conduct research and educate the next generation of scientists. She has also authored several books, given countless lectures, and consulted with major companies in the livestock industry.

Through her work, she has become an inspiration to many and has left an indelible mark on the fields of animal science and autism advocacy, as seen in her feature on NPR and BBC Special – “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow.”

Temple Grandin’s journey as an autism advocate and scientist began in her early years. She was born on August 29, 1947, in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of four, Grandin still hadn’t started talking. Growing up, Grandin faced difficulties in socializing and understanding abstract concepts.

However, she had a unique perspective on the world, which allowed her to excel in visual thinking. This ability to think in pictures became a crucial tool in her later work as a scientist and innovator.

Overcoming Challenges: The Diagnosis of Autism

Grandin’s diagnosis of autism was a turning point in her life. It provided her with a better understanding of her own strengths and challenges, and it motivated her to advocate for others on the autism spectrum. Despite the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding autism at the time, Grandin’s mother, who rejected the advice to institutionalize her, was determined to provide her with the support and opportunities she needed to thrive.

A Unique Perspective: Growing Up with Autism

Growing up with autism presented Grandin with unique challenges and opportunities. While she struggled with social skills and sensory processing, she also possessed a remarkable ability to think in pictures. This visual thinking allowed her to excel in certain areas, such as visual-spatial tasks and problem-solving.

However, Grandin’s differences also made her a target for bullying and teasing in high school. Despite the challenges she faced, she found solace in activities where she shared a common interest with others, such as horses, electronics, and model rockets.

Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Grandin’s passion for science and her determination to overcome obstacles propelled her forward. Her experiences as a young person with autism shaped her understanding of the condition and laid the foundation for her advocacy work in the years to come.

Educational Journey: Temple Grandin Accomplishments

Grandin’s educational journey was marked by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and a determination to break barriers. Despite the challenges she faced due to her autism, she was able to achieve academic success and earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College.

Her thirst for knowledge led her to pursue further education, obtaining both a master’s degree and a doctorate in animal science from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively. This educational journey not only showcases Grandin’s determination and resilience but also serves as an inspiration for others with autism to pursue their own academic goals.

From Silence to Advocacy: Finding a Voice

Grandin’s own journey with autism has provided her with a unique perspective that she uses to educate and advocate for individuals on the spectrum. Through her lectures, books, and public appearances, Grandin has shared her personal experiences and provided valuable insights into the world of autism. She has become an influential figure in the autism community, offering support and guidance to individuals and families affected by autism.

The Road to Higher Education: Achievements and Struggles

Grandin’s pursuit of higher education was not without its challenges. As an individual with autism, she faced additional obstacles in navigating academic and social settings. However, her perseverance and determination allowed her to overcome these challenges and achieve academic success.

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Grandin went on to pursue a master’s degree and a doctorate in animal science. Her scientific contributions and research on livestock behavior and handling have had a significant impact on the agricultural industry, particularly in the cattle industry.

Despite the difficulties she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field, Grandin’s groundbreaking work has earned her recognition and respect in the scientific community.

Innovations in Livestock Animals Science

Credit: Elsevier

Temple Grandin’s contributions to the field of animal science are nothing short of revolutionary. Through her innovative designs and insights into animal behavior, she has revolutionized the way livestock is handled and treated.

One of Grandin’s most notable contributions is the development of the “hug machine,” a device inspired by her own experiences with sensory processing issues. The squeeze machine applies gentle pressure to the body, providing a calming and comforting effect for individuals with autism and animals alike. This device has been widely adopted and used to improve the well-being and handling of livestock, as well as providing comfort for autistic children and adults.

Additionally, Grandin’s research on livestock behavior and welfare has led to significant advancements in the industry. Her designs for livestock handling facilities prioritize the reduction of stress and the promotion of humane treatment. These designs have been implemented in facilities across North America, improving the quality of life for millions of animals.

Grandin’s work has also shed light on the importance of understanding and respecting animal behavior. By acknowledging the unique needs and instincts of animals, she has paved the way for more ethical and sustainable practices in the meat and livestock industries.

Advocacy and Awareness: A Lifetime Commitment

Advocacy and raising awareness about autism have been lifelong commitments for Temple Grandin. Through her lectures, books, and public appearances, she has become a leading voice in the autism community. Grandin’s personal experiences with autism have given her a deep understanding of the challenges faced by individuals on the spectrum, and she uses her platform to educate and empower others.

Speaking Out for the Autism Community

As an autism advocate, Temple Grandin has dedicated her life to speaking out for the rights and inclusion of individuals with autism. She has highlighted the unique strengths and contributions that individuals on the spectrum can bring to society, challenging stereotypes and promoting acceptance.

Through her lectures and public appearances, Grandin has inspired countless individuals and families affected by autism. Her message of hope and perseverance resonates with audiences around the world, offering support and encouragement to those who may feel marginalized or misunderstood.

Grandin’s advocacy work has also extended to policy and legislation, as she has contributed her expertise and insights to the development of autism-related initiatives. Her tireless efforts have made a significant impact on the lives of individuals with autism and have helped to shape a more inclusive and understanding society.

The Power of Visual Thinking: Educating the World

One of the key strengths that Temple Grandin possesses is her ability to think in pictures. This unique way of processing information has allowed her to excel in various fields, including animal science and autism advocacy.

Grandin’s visual thinking has played a crucial role in her ability to educate and communicate complex ideas to others. She has leveraged her visual thinking skills to develop innovative teaching methods and materials, making abstract concepts more accessible to individuals on the autism spectrum.

Through her books, lectures, and presentations, Grandin has shared her visual thinking techniques with educators and parents, empowering them to better understand and support individuals with autism. Her contributions in this area have had a profound impact on the field of special education and have helped to improve the educational experiences of countless individuals with autism through her articles in both scientific journals and popular periodicals.

Beyond the Lab: Grandin’s Influence in Popular Culture

Temple Grandin’s impact extends beyond the realm of academia and research. Her story and achievements have captured the attention of the media and have been brought to life in various forms of popular culture.

In 2010, HBO released a critically acclaimed film titled “Temple Grandin,” which chronicles her life and journey as an autism advocate and animal scientist. The film received numerous awards, including several Emmy Awards, and introduced Grandin’s story to a wider audience.

The success of the HBO film brought Grandin’s work and advocacy to the forefront of public consciousness. She became a household name, and her story inspired countless individuals worldwide. Grandin’s authenticity and determination resonated with audiences, and she became an influential figure in popular culture.

Her story has also been featured in major publications such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, and Discover Magazine. These media platforms have helped to raise awareness about autism and have given Grandin a platform to share her insights and experiences with a broader audience.

Biographies and Film: Bringing the Story to the Masses

autistic girl movie
Credit: HBO

One of the most significant ways in which Temple Grandin’s story has reached the masses is through biographies and the HBO film adaptation of her life. These mediums have allowed people from all walks of life to learn about her journey and the impact she has made in the fields of autism advocacy and animal science.

The HBO film, titled “Temple Grandin,” starred Claire Danes in the lead role and received critical acclaim for its accurate portrayal of Grandin’s experiences and achievements. The film brought awareness to autism and the unique perspectives of individuals on the spectrum, while also showcasing the groundbreaking work Grandin has done in the field of animal science.

In addition to the film, several biographies have been written about Grandin, further adding to her recognition and impact. These books have helped to educate and inspire readers, shedding light on the challenges faced by individuals with autism and the potential for success and achievement.

Awards and Recognition: A Testament to Impact

Temple Grandin’s contributions to the fields of animal science and autism advocacy have not gone unrecognized. She has received numerous awards and accolades throughout her career, highlighting the profound impact she has made on both industries.

Grandin has been honored for her work with numerous awards, including the Double Helix Medal from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2011. She is also a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and has a successful career consulting on both livestock handling equipment design and animal welfare.

In 2016, Grandin was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious honor that recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to their respective fields. This honor solidified her status as a leading figure in both autism advocacy and animal science.

Additionally, she has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the world’s most influential people and has received awards from various organizations, including the World Association of Autism and the American Meat Institute. These awards serve as a testament to the lasting impact Grandin has had on the lives of individuals with autism and the animal science industry.

The Written Word: Contributions to Literature and Science

Temple Grandin has made significant contributions to the fields of literature and science through her books, scientific papers, and articles. Her work has greatly influenced both the autism community and the livestock industry.

In her first book, “Emergence: Labeled Autistic,” Grandin provided an inside narrative of autism, shedding light on her personal experiences and challenges. This groundbreaking book was the first of its kind and offered a unique perspective on autism from someone living with the condition. It was widely praised for its honesty and helped raise awareness and understanding of autism, including in the neurotypical community. Grandin’s contributions to literature and science, including her book “An Anthropologist on Mars,” have made a significant impact on how we view and understand autism.

Grandin’s subsequent books, including “Thinking in Pictures” and “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum,” as well as her contributions to literature and science, particularly in collaboration with neurologist Oliver Sacks, further explored the intricacies of autism and provided valuable insights into how individuals on the spectrum think and perceive the world. These books have been instrumental in fostering empathy and promoting acceptance for people with autism.

In addition to her books, Grandin has published numerous scientific papers in prestigious journals. Her research focuses on animal behavior and welfare, with a particular emphasis on livestock handling. Her innovative designs for livestock facilities have revolutionized the industry, promoting the humane treatment of animals and improving overall animal welfare.

Grandin’s work has also been featured in prominent publications such as The New York Times. Her expertise and unique perspective have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant in both the autism and livestock industries. Her TED talk, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds,” has been viewed millions of times and continues to inspire and educate people around the world.


Temple Grandin’s journey is a testament to resilience and innovation, showcasing the power of determination in overcoming obstacles. From her early struggles with autism to becoming a renowned advocate and educator, Grandin has left an indelible mark on society. Her groundbreaking work in animal science and unwavering commitment to autism awareness have inspired countless individuals globally.

Through her unique perspective and visual thinking, Grandin continues to break down barriers and foster understanding. Her story serves as a beacon of hope, highlighting the importance of embracing diversity and championing inclusion. Temple Grandin’s legacy is a reminder that with perseverance and passion, one can truly make a difference in the world.

Temple Grandin’s powerful story highlights the vast potential of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). At Move Up ABA, we share that vision. Our in-home ABA therapy goes beyond limitations. BCBA therapists design personalized programs to empower children with ASD, fostering communication skills, social interaction, and independence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Temple Grandin Autistic?

Temple Grandin herself has stated that she is autistic. While she wasn’t formally diagnosed until adulthood, she has openly discussed her experiences and struggles related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

What difficulties did Temple Grandin have?

Temple Grandin faced difficulties with social skills and sensory processing disorder due to her autism. She experienced hypersensitivity to certain stimuli and struggled with traditional forms of communication.

When was Temple Grandin diagnosed?

Grandin was born in 1947 and was not diagnosed with autism until she was well into her 40s.

Was Temple Grandin nonverbal?

Temple Grandin was nonverbal until the age of three and a half. But her mother put her into speech therapy right away, so she was immediately able to conquer that challenge.

What is Temple Grandin IQ?

Her full-scale IQ was 120 on the first test and 137 on the second test.