Being different is a good thing, and Autism Spectrum Disorder can produce some of the brightest minds. That’s the overarching theme of I am Temple Grandin, by Brad Meltzer. This illustrative biography of Temple Grandin captures her life as an individual with autism, including the many challenges she faced and overcame throughout her life.
I am Temple Grandin is one of over 50 stories in Meltzer’s Ordinary People Change the World series that highlights unconventional heroes from real-life history for kids to look up to rather than those they see on social media and TV.
While reading, parents and their children will see cartoon-like images with text bubbles and colorful imagery.
Grandin and Autism
Grandin was diagnosed with autism at just three years old, so she was forced to learn how to understand herself and the world at a time when the diagnosis wasn’t well-understood. She struggled to perform everyday activities that ordinary kids would excel at, so her mother created an environment at home that she could thrive in.
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Then, when she began school, her teachers focused on activities that Grandin was comfortable with. “Everyone’s brain works in its own way,” expresses Grandin in the book. “Some people learn by reading, some learn by listening, and some learn by doing. My brain sees the world in pictures.”
The Most Important Summer of Grandin’s Life
The story highlights a time during Grandin’s childhood when she spent a summer at her aunt’s ranch in Arizona. While she was exploring the farm with her aunt, Grandin discovered a cattle chute that held animals in a confined space so they could get medicine.
The chute provided a sense of security and safety to the animals, which ultimately kept them calm. Curious as she was, Grandin climbed in and experienced the relaxation firsthand.
She carried that moment in the chute through her high school and college years and built new versions of the machine for different animals. Grandin thought that if she could help keep animals calm, it would help farmers across the country with their cattle.
New Found Love for Animals
As Grandin grew older, so did her attachment and understanding of animals, which eventually led to a career in studying animals. She’d study them for hours and learned to understand them like no one else could, using her autism as her secret superpower.
Meltzer writes that people didn’t feel comfortable with a woman – much less an Autistic woman – telling farmers how to help their cattle, but it was Grandin’s ideas that worked, not theirs, and word quickly spread across the country. Farmers then began to incorporate Grandin’s designs into their farms to treat their animals more humanely.
Autism Become an Afterthought
Today, Grandin is an author, scientist, and professor. She has proven time and time again that autism doesn’t have to be a barrier to succeed in life. Being Autistic can bring endless possibilities. “We need people who are different. The world doesn’t get better by doing things the same way. It gets better by creative and unconventional thinking,” Meltzer writes.
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