Temple Grandin speaks at Kent State for Disability Awareness Month

Gael Reyes

Temple Grandin, a well-renowned animal sciences professor, autism spokesperson and author, addressed overcoming disability labels at a talk for Kent State’s 2016 Disability Awareness Month programs.

“Autism is a really big spectrum,” Grandin said. “Don’t get caught up on these labels. Just don’t. Bust out of that ‘autism’ box.”

The talk, titled “Different Kinds of Minds Contribute to Society,” focused on the range of intellect types and how to better foster unique thinkers in schools.

Grandin identified herself as a visual thinker, and attributed her success to this.

“We’ve got to be working on everything people can make and can do,” Grandin said.

Grandin strongly advocated for hands-on activities and exposure to skilled trades in early childhood. She pointed out successful figures who had similar experiences at an early age, such as Albert Einstein, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs who she believes fall somewhere on the spectrum. Grandin encouraged students and parents to seek out these experiences to shape a better future.

“There are less opportunities today to do hands-on things,” Grandin said, “but there are still opportunities. Let’s get creative.”

Grandin spoke of her own experiences growing up and attributes her success to early exposure that allowed her to develop her career interests. Grandin even joked that gender discrimination made for a more difficult challenge than her disability because her early experiences prepared her well.

“Autism was nothing compared to being a woman,” Grandin joked. “It was not easy being a woman starting out in a man’s career. (It was) hard in the ’70s. Absolutely, totally horrible.”

Grandin is now a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and travels around the world as a livestock industry expert as well as a motivational speaker.

For more information on Kent State’s disAbility Awareness Month, visit http://www.kent.edu/sas/2016-disability-awareness-month.

Contact Gael Reyes at [email protected].