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Dr. Temple Grandin

Who is Dr. Temple Grandin?

Dr. Temple Grandin is probably the best known distinguished adult in the world of autism. So famous that HBO came out with a film on her life with Claire Danes playing the title role.

Dr. Temple Grandin was non-verbal until around 3 ½ years old. Typical behaviors she had were screaming, peeping and humming. She was diagnosed with autism in 1950 and her parents were asked to have her institutionalized.

She is the author of Emergence: Labelled Autistic which tells of her life long struggle with autism. It details how she was able to go from having a frightened autistic childhood to having a successful career. Her groundbreaking book shocked the world as many professionals and parents viewed autism as a death sentence to having a productive life.

Today, she is a world renowned author, a prominent speaker on autism, a successful designer of livestock handling equipment , as well as a professor in Columbia State University..

Dr. Temple Grandin gave a glimmer of hope to parents everywhere that children diagnosed with autism could still have productive and have meaningful lives.

How it Feels to Have Hypersensitive Hearing?

Like birthday parties. They were torture for me. The confusion created by noise-makers suddenly going off startled me. I would invariably react by hitting another child or picking up an ashtray or anything else that was handy and flinging it across the room.

This is not unusual for autistic children because they are over-responsive to some stimuli and under-sensitive to other stimuli. Recent research shows that an autistic child may ignore a loud noise, but react violently to the sound of crinkling cellophane. This over or under responsiveness to stimuli may be due to the autistic child’s inability to integrate incoming sensory input and choose which stimuli to attend to…

Ms. Cray, our governess, took advantage of my distress at noise. She used sound as a means of punishment… She kept a supply of paper sacks on top of the refrigerator so that she could burst them in my face if I misbehaved or drifted away from the world of people. This sensitivity to noise is common among adult autistics. Even today, sudden loud noises such as a car backfiring , will make me jump and a panicky feeling overwhelms me. Loud, high pitched noises such as a motorcycle’s sound, are still painful to me.

(Grandin and Scariano, 2005, p.28- p. 29)