Temple Grandin spoke about animal behavior, Autism and sensory-based thinking Friday, March 2 in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™.
Grandin was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years old. During her childhood, Autism was misunderstood and it was thought that autistic children were just rebellious. At age 15, her mother made her go live with her aunt on a farm. It was there that she realized she had a special connection with cattle and the ability to visualize things the way cattle do to make handling them easier. Later, Grandin designed the way livestock are handled and humanely harvested today.
A main worry for Grandin is that people are becoming too far removed from agriculture and wildlife, creating a barrier for the different publics.
“Ranchers and the cattle industry need to talk to the general public about the daily things they do,” Grandin said. “If they do this, they will help people understand agriculture.”
Grandin also spoke about her battle with Autism and things a parent should do to help their autistic child develop. Items that are important to Grandin include social skills, finding things the child excels in and developing an area of strength.
“Find something they are interested in and that can turn into a career,” Grandin said. “Then you have to stretch their ability.”
Grandin has become a world-renowned spokesperson for animal handling, partially due to the HBO Movie “Temple Grandin,” that depicted her troubles with Autism and her role as a woman in ranching.
She feels that now that she has become famous, she has a responsibility to others who are autistic. Many people have written to her, explaining how great of an inspiration she is to them and making them feel like they could succeed with their autism.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a Section 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Show has committed approximately $283 million to the youth of Texas.
The 2012 Show continues through March 18. For tickets and more information, visit www.rodeohouston.com.