Friday, January 27, 2012

Thoughts on HBO's Temple Grandin

When the HBO movie Temple Grandin first came out, I kept putting off watching it. I knew I was going to want to pay close attention to it and really enjoy it. But I was always too busy to give it my undivided attention. I also didn't want to fall asleep in the middle of it. Most of my movie watching tends to occur later in the evenings as I am getting ready for bed.

Today, I am sitting at home sick. Yesterday started with a migraine and turned into a possible stomach bug. As I am on the road to recovery, I am flipping through the options available on the various On Demand stations. To my joy, I saw that this movie was again available.

I sniffled all the way through it.

The movie does what I think is an amazing job of demonstrating how autistic people think in pictures and are very literal. One of my favorites is as soon as it is suggested to Temple that she study animal husbandry in college, she immediately has a vision of a cow being a groom. You see her fear as she encounters automatic doors. You see how she imagines the plight of the livestock at the slaughterhouse.

The movie is full of emotion, which is impressive with a character/person who lacks in a lot of emotion because she doesn't understand it.

I admire her mother for ignoring the experts and doing what she could to help her daughter. I admire her aunt for recognizing her needs and helping her to get things that she needed, like the squeeze box she made all by herself. I admire her teachers who took pity on her (at first) and those who believed in her ideas. And I admire her for standing up for both the rights of animals and people with autism.

I had the honor of hearing Temple Grandin speak a couple of years ago. At the time, I had a boy in my class whom I suspected of having Asperger's. The more she spoke, the more insight I gained into his behaviors and in how to help him.

Following her speech, I got in line with a copy of each of her books for sale. I thanked her for her speech and for giving me insight into one of my students. She wanted to know what specifically helped me. I had to scramble to think of one specific example, but I did. I was also somewhat amused by me asking which one book she wanted to sign, and she insisted on doing all of them.

I find Temple Grandin to be very inspirational. I find autism to be a fascinating puzzle. When I am working with a child with autism, I like to put together to pieces to find out what makes him tick, how to help him, and how to reach him on some kind of level. Listening to her speak, and reading her words, helps me to be better at what I do.

In addition to portraying one of my heroes, Temple Grandin features an amazing performance by Claire Danes. She won numerous awards for her performance. I loved watching her at the Golden Globes because Temple was actually with her. Temple was so proud of the work Danes did on this movie, and rightfully so.

Read some of Temple Grandin's books:

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