General Non-Fiction posted September 17, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
A girl diagnosed with autism is now a famous scientist

Temple Grandin

by T B Botts

I was in the library the other day picking up a book and getting some movies to watch. I'm too cheap to join Netflix or one of the other movie streaming services. For less than the price of a gallon of gas, I can get all the movies I want to see for free. Anyway, I picked up a movie titled Temple Grandin. The title itself sounded interesting. I didn't realize at the time that the movie wasn't about some Far Eastern temple, but about a person. A very special person as it turned out.

Mary Temple Grandin was born in 1947 at a time when very little was understood about autism. When she hadn't spoken a word by the time she was three and a half, her mother took her to a doctor to be evaluated. The doctor correctly diagnosed autism, but recommended that she be put in an institution. At the time that was the prevailing train of thought.  Her mother refused and worked with her until she learned to speak and eventually was ready for school.

Of course she didn't act like the other children and was made fun of constantly. She eventually attended a boarding school where one of her teachers noticed her ability to visualize situations. He realized she had a special gift that could be put to good use. The problem was that she was not a people person. The noise and confusion she encountered was overwhelming. She couldn't stand to have people touch her, not even her mother, something that caused her mom a great deal of distress.

After her time at the boarding school, she spent a summer with her mother's sister on a cattle ranch. She bonded with the animals and could visualize their stress in different situations. In order for the cattle to be inoculated, they were put in a confined pen which actually closed around their necks and sides, holding them tight, like a hug. Temple realized that the cattle calmed down noticeably when they were in the machine. She even tried it out herself and noticed a calming effect.

For some reason her mother wanted Temple to attend college. She wanted to stay on the ranch with the animals, but her mother prevailed. As could be predicted, Temple was introduced into a whole new set of agitating conditions. In order to cope, she built a machine much like what she had seen the cattle go in to. It was in essence a hugging machine. While she couldn't stand to be hugged or touched by another human, she nonetheless needed that feeling of comforting that the machine produced. At one point it was taken from her and destroyed, and she had to go before a board with the results of an experiment that she did on other students in the machine so that she could build another and keep it in the room.

She graduated college with honors and started working at a slaughter house, a strange place for a college grad. While there she noticed how the animals were treated and how they reacted to stress. She visualized a way to keep the animals calm as they were herded in to the pen to be executed. Unfortunately, she was a woman in a man's world and no one cared to hear what she had to say.

She persevered, and eventually published several articles in industry magazines that gave her some credibility. Even so, she still faced a good ol' boys network in the cattle industry, even when she designed a humane device to allow the cattle to be dipped in a solution to rid them of pests and fungus. She fought an uphill battle but eventually prevailed.

At some point she addressed a conference on autism and thoroughly impressed the audience and the academics.  She has been an advocate for people with autism and is a respected speaker.
Temple has published more than sixty articles on animal behavior. Over half of the slaughterhouses in America are utilizing pens that she designed that treat the animals more humanely, reducing accidents and loss for the businesses and reducing stress on the animals in their last minutes.

She is currently a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. I don't know if she still utilizes the hugging machine. Perhaps so. 



Sometimes, getting a movie from the library is like a line from Forrest Gump. You never know what you're going to get. I've picked some that sounded good, but were terrible, and I've been surprised at times with an outstanding movie, like this one. I hope you get a chance to view it.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by suep at

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2023. T B Botts All rights reserved.
T B Botts has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.