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(Send us your opinion today: How can science and engineering make life better for persons with autism and other learning and physical challenges? Let us know what you think of Temple's achievements in the face of autism!)
Because of autism, Temple Grandin was not able to talk until she was 3 ½, and for a time experts recommended that she be institutionalized. Speaking of her childhood experience, she recalls: "Junior high was a real mess for me and then came puberty. My anxiety attacks came during puberty, and then all of my nerves started [acting out]." With guidance and mentoring, however, she learned how to transform these challenges into functioning effectively each day -- all which later helped fuel her determination as an innovator in animal science.
Why She's Important: Temple is one of the world's few designers of livestock handling equipment and facilities. Her innovations have resulted in greater insight into animal behavior as well as
much-needed improvements in how livestock are treated during the raising, breeding and handling of animals for food production.
Other Achievements: Named by Time magazine in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people. Her life story has also been the subject of a full-length film on HBO and featured on NPR, ABC Primetime Live, The Today Show, in People magazine and the New York Times.
Current Activities: Serves as an educator at Colorado State University where she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design. She also advises the livestock industry on methods that use animal behavioral methods, rather than excess force, to manage and control animals. In addition, she is a staunch advocate and spokesperson for early diagnosis and treatment of autism.
Education: B.A. degree from Franklin Pierce College; M.S. in Animal Science from Arizona State University, and Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois.
In her own words: "You have got to keep autistic children engaged with the world. You cannot let them tune out."
OK, now I'm impressed. :)