Renowned autism self-advocate to speak at CMU

Temple Grandin will share her amazing life story
Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, perhaps the world’s most accomplished adult with autism, will share her story of struggles and triumph, now part of her best-selling book “The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s,” on Wednesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. in Finch Fieldhouse.

Now a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, Grandin didn’t speak until she was 3 years old. In 1950, doctors diagnosed her with autism, telling her parents that she should be institutionalized.

Her book “Emergence: Labeled Autistic” became an eye-opener to the many professionals and parents who assumed an autism diagnosis was a virtual death sentence for a life of productivity and achievement.

Considered “weird” in her early school years, Grandin found a mentor who recognized her interests and abilities. She would later develop those talents into a successful career as one of the few livestock-handling equipment designers in the world.

In 2010, Grandin became a household name with HBO’s release of “Temple Grandin,” a full-length film biography starring Clare Danes.

Holly Hoffman, chair of CMU’s special education and counseling department, said Grandin’s visit to CMU is reflective of the university’s growing commitment to inclusion.

“We are excited to provide our students with an opportunity to learn from someone as incredible as Temple Grandin,” Hoffman said. “Teachers should be prepared to teach all students, including those with disabilities. Considering multiple perspectives is critical, too, so it’s very important to hear about the lived realities and experiences of individuals with disabilities.”

Hoffman is equally excited about extending the invitation to the broader educational community, such as public school leaders and teachers, as well as the general public. “Disability awareness is not just about classrooms, schools, students and teachers,” she said. “It’s important to all people and professions.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the T.R. Johnson Endowment, which supports speakers who further enhance the teaching and learning excellence within the College of Education and Human Services and the greater CMU community. A reception and book signing will conclude the evening.