By Mason Poepperling
On Tuesday, Hutchinson Community College will host this year’s fourth Dillon Lecture Series Speaker, Temple Grandin, an autism spokesperson and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.
Grandin was born on Aug. 29, 1947, in Boston. From a young age, she started exhibiting behavioral issues, but she wouldn’t be formally diagnosed with autism until adulthood.
At the time, the recommendation that parents of children that exhibit autistic traits would receive from doctors was institutionalization. Her mother, In an attempt to avoid this from happening – she believed institutionalization would permanently isolate her from her daughter – sought guidance from a neurologist, who suggested personalized speech therapy, which Grandin would start receiving from age two and a half. She also had supportive mentors from grade school onward, for which she feels lucky. Despite this, Gradin has described junior high and high school as the most unpleasant times of her life. “Kids teased me, called me ‘tape recorder’ because when I talked it was kind of like just using the same phrases” Grandin said. “I could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt.”
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College (now Franklin Pierce University) in New Hampshire, Grandin earned a Master’s degree and a doctorate in animal science from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively.
She has written many scientific articles on beef cattle behavior during handling, her first two being “Livestock Behavior as Related to Handling Facilities Design” in the International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, Vol. 1, pp. 33–52 and “Observations of Cattle Behavior Applied to the Design of Cattle Handling Facilities”, Applied Animal Ethology, Vol. 6, pp. 19–31. Grandon was one of the first scientists to report that animals are sensitive to visual distractions in handling facilities such as shadows, dangling chains, and other environmental details that most people do not notice. Another important paper published by Grandin was, “Assessment of Stress During Handling and Transport”, Journal of Animal Science, 1997, Vol. 75, pp. 249-257. This paper presented the concept that an animal’s previous experiences with handling could have an effect on how it will react to being handled in the future, as a new concept in the animal-handling industry.
Now, Grandin is bringing her extensive knowledge of livestock handling and her experience of living with autism to Hutchinson. She will start her lecture at 10:30 a.m. at the Sports Arena. HutchCC students get in for free with their student identification.