WEST CHESTER (April 12, 2019) – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently had the opportunity to meet prominent author and speaker on autism and animal behavior, Dr. Temple Grandin.
Dinniman introduced Grandin to a sold-out audience at “Animals and Autism,” a special event presented by the Barn at Springbrook Farm and the Boudinot Foundation at the Westtown School’s Barton Test Theatre on Thursday evening.
Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said he cherished the opportunity to have a brief, one-on-one discussion with Grandin and enjoyed seeing the way she interacted with audience members on a personal level.
“Dr. Grandin gave her time, her experience, and herself to the hundreds in attendance. She’s a hero and an inspiration to so many in the autism community. To see children, teens and families open up to her about their challenges and hear her insight and words of encouragement and advice was an amazing experience,” he said.
A professor of animal science at Colorado State University, Grandin is a renowned scholar, a successful consultant to the livestock industry, and a celebrated autism spokesperson.
At Thursday’s event, she discussed her work in the livestock industry and her views on autism, spectrum disorders, labeling, and differently-abled brains. At times she had the crowd roaring with laughter over anecdotes on her interactions with others, animals, and technology.
Grandin discussed the importance of young people having the opportunity to work outside the home in a scheduled and structured environment, the need for parents to “stretch” their kids through choices but not push them far beyond their comfort zones, and the dangers of children and young people becoming too engrossed in and reliant on technology and video games.
She also noted that young people need more opportunity to learn trades and work with their hands, including shop and vocational educational classes in schools. In addition, she highlighted the value of exercise and socialization through the development of shared interests.
“As an educator, I’ve often found myself reminding my legislative colleagues, ‘Not every mind learns the same way.’ Dr. Grandin’s success famously reminds us, that ‘The world needs all kinds of minds,” Dinniman said. “Her remarks offered unique and remarkable insight and I plan to bring what I learned back to Harrisburg when it comes to education and education policy.”
Early in life, Dr. Grandin showed all the signs of severe autism. As a young child, she received many hours of speech therapy and intensive teaching. Later, she found invaluable mentors in a high school science teacher and an aunt who guided and motivated her to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer.
Today, Temple Grandin is practically a household name.
Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she designed. And she is instrumental in developing animal welfare guidelines for the livestock industry and consulting with companies on animal welfare.
A widely published author, Grandin has written several best-selling books and numerous scholarly articles. Her first book, “Emergence: Labeled Autistic” is recognized as an unprecedented narrative and glimpse inside the autistic mind.
Grandin is the focus of a semi-biographical HBO film, “Temple Grandin,” starring Claire Danes, which went on to win multiple Emmys and a Golden Globe.
Dinniman was a sponsor of Thursday’s event as the Senate provided a live stream online and to a satellite location at First Presbyterian Church of West Chester where more than 400 additional viewers watched.