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Feb. 5 2010 - 1:24 pm | 89 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Claire Danes plays autistic icon Temple Grandin

Those of you who are able to might want to check out an HBO movie that airs this weekend about the life of Temple Grandin, the autistic savant who works on developing more humane practices for slaughtering livestock.

From the LA Times:

“Temple Grandin,” which debuts Saturday, focuses on Grandin’s youth and early years as a scientist when she labored to get the cattle industry to take notice of her inventions. Because of her autism, Grandin “thinks in pictures,” as she says, an ability that gives her insight into how animals view the world. She persuaded the industry to adopt her reforms in the face of mockery and outright hostility. Along the way, Grandin struggled with the limitations imposed by her autism: her terror of sliding glass doors, her aversion to being touched, the panic attacks triggered by overstimulation.

From NPR:

Grandin’s story is, by any measure, impressive. She didn’t speak until she was 4. The doctor who officially diagnosed her, following the protocol of the era, recommended she be institutionalized.

He also suggested, matter of factly, that Temple’s autism was probably her mother’s fault. Because Temple resisted physical human interaction like hugging, her mother must have been cold and unaffectionate.

Happily, her mother (played very nicely by Julia Ormond) rejected this Dark Ages thinking and taught Temple to read, write and speak.

But it wasn’t until she was sent to boarding school that mother and daughter met a teacher, Dr. Carlock (David Straithairn), who explained that Temple was simply wired differently.

Click on the NPR link for a nice interview with Grandin.


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    I'm a freelance journalist, and Middle Tennessee is my oyster. You may have seen my name on ScientificAmerican.com, where for two years I covered physics, space and the kitchen sink. Then I wrote a book called Instant Egghead Guide: The Universe. These days I'm into more earthly fare: mental health, chronic disease and social psychology. Working Dogma will be my way of getting up to speed on those subjects, which should keep me nice and busy. I'll do my best to make it entertaining.

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