A few years ago when I was watching the Emmy’s and saw Claire Danes win an award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or Movie, for a movie called Temple Grandin. When I saw bits of it in the intro I it caught my attention and I made a mental note to check it out. I ended up watching it the next day and I loved it.
My husband and I have been watching a new series called Homeland, which is great and I will probably write more about it later, and it also stars Claire Danes. We end up commenting multiple times during each episode about what an unbelievably good actress she is, and then I remembered the movie I had seen and mentioned it to Xander. I insisted that he watch it because I thought he’d really enjoy it too, and I was right. He was as amazed as I was by both Claire Danes’ portrayal of Temple as we were by Temple’s incredible story itself.
As you can see from the trailer, Temple Grandin is Autistic. When she is young her mother is concerned by the fact that she still hasn’t spoken at four years of age, and that she is very distant physically. The doctor tells her that Temple is Autistic and that they usually recommend that children with Autism are placed in an institution as there is nothing that can be done for them. What’s worse is, at her insistence, he also gives his opinion on what causes Autism in children… which is that they weren’t given affection by their mother at a crucial moment in time. This was only after he suggested that maybe she should have her husband to come in so he could explain it to him. This was one of the most glaring examples in the movie of how drastically times have changed, and thank god for that!
It’s at that time that Temple’s mother decides that she isn’t going to let the fact that Temple is Autistic get in the way. She keeps working with her until she speaks, when she speaks she is sent to school, she has to work and even goes on to university. Her mother makes sure that no matter what happens and who she comes across in life, she never forgets that she is DIFFERENT, NOT LESS!
While spending the summer working on her aunt’s farm, she realizes that she is especially in tune with animals, and this is what sets her path to a fantastic career in animal handling. Teaching farmers and ranch hands all over the world how to treat animals more humanely and even redesigning a lot of their butcheries and other facilities. She is fully aware of the fact that cattle are butchered and has no problem with that but she feels that if cattle are raised for the purpose of nourishment for us, that they should be given some respect.
Another major thing that takes place for her is when she sees her uncle and the other farm hands using a press machine to calm cattle for getting their injections. She is a bit shocked by how it calms the cattle and begins to wonder if the same would work for her, as being hugged by humans is scary but she still craves that feeling of pressure that comes from a hug. During one of her emotional breakdowns she runs out to the yard and climbs into the contraption, begging her aunt to close it on her. Her aunt, frightened and emotional herself, finally gives in and is amazed to see an instant calming effect take place. Temple then immediately sets out to build her squeeze machine, which she keeps with her from that moment on, making a massive difference for her in day to day life.
There really isn’t enough I can say to stress what a wonderfully heart warming and educational film this is. With the real Temple Grandin working together with the makers of the movie, it gives you the most amazing insight into what it’s like in the Autistic mind, which is something I found utterly fascinating!
When I think of the fact that this woman could have possibly been stuck in an institution, never to be heard or seen from again, it makes me so sad. Sad not only because we very nearly missed out on this wonderful woman and the difference she has made in the world, but also because it makes me wonder what other amazing minds the world has missed out on because their parents were afraid to go against the grain.
This movie shows us that it’s true what they say about it taking a village to raise a child. Everyone we come in contact with can play even the smallest role in who we become as people and what we achieve. If it weren’t for Temple’s mother, aunt, high school science teacher and all the other people who recognized greatness in her and encouraged her, who knows where she would have ended up.
Temple Grandin is now a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University. She is a bestselling author, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and the inventor of the squeeze machine. She is also very active in he Autism community, trying to raise awareness and urging people to look deeper and try to work with Autistic children, for who knows what they may be capable if the right person comes along and finds what makes them tick.
Check out the video below to see Temple Grandin on Ted Talks discussing how the world needs all types of different minds. It is really worth watching and makes you think about the education system today and how many kids pass through without anyone ever taking the time to really see where they could excel if given the chance.