My favorite people are, and have always been, animal people … people who deeply care about animals. The day I met my wife at church, I also met her mom and sisters. They told me about all their dogs, cats a rabbit and a pot belly pig. They had me at dogs.
Last night I was flipping through channels and landed on a biopic about a woman named Temple Grandin. Claire Danes played the leading role. I’ve loved Claire Danes since My So Called Life so I started watching even though the movie was already half over. Now I can’t wait to go back and see the whole thing.
From my perspective, movies hardly get any better than when they tell a real life story about a person who struggled through life to make a difference. Temple Grandin is now a Doctor of Animal Science and professor at Colorado State University. She also has autism.
Because of the way she was rased, she pushed through limited expectations to do something that changed the way we treat the animals we eat. Autism gave Grandin the gift of thinking different. As a grad student, she had to visit a stockyard where cows were being prepared for slaughter. She reacted to the stress the cows were going through and went to work figuring out how to alleviate the stress. She says, “I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.” She designed a system that not only got cows from stockyards to slaughter peacefully, it also saved money.
In addition to her work with animals, Temple Grandin is also an advocate for autistic children. She’s been able to explain to worried and confused parents of autistic kids what the kids are experiencing when they spin in circles, put their hands over their ears or rock back and forth.
I’ve never heard of Temple Grandin before last night so I figure I’m not alone. The movie I watched is in rotation on HBO, but if you care about animals, you might want to order it from Amazon. She wrote a book called, Thinking in Pictures, one called, The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s and another one called, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals. I can’t wait to learn more.
Here is a video of Temple Grandin speaking at TED. Tech people need to see this!