To mark National Autism Awareness Month in April, Colorado State University and Rocky Mountain PBS have teamed up to produce and air a documentary about the influence of Temple Grandin, CSU’s world-famous animal scientist who has overcome struggles with autism to revolutionize farm-animal welfare.
The new documentary, titled “Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds,” will be televised on Rocky Mountain PBS channels at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15. It may be viewed after April 15 at www.colostate.edu/templegrandin.
The documentary is part of the “Women and Girls Lead” initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Women and Girls Lead” is a multiyear public-media initiative meant to celebrate, educate and activate women, girls and their allies to address modern global challenges. The initiative will highlight more than 50 compelling documentaries that represent a groundswell of stories about the leadership of women and girls facing tremendous challenges.
“Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds” is produced by CSU’s Division of External Relations and is narrated by actress Claire Danes, who played the role of Grandin in an acclaimed HBO biopic.
The CSU documentary examines Grandin’s work as a pioneering expert in livestock behavior and humane handling. It describes Grandin’s difficulties with autism, and the persistence she summoned to dramatically influence animal agriculture while also becoming a hero to people with autism and their families.
The documentary is well-timed, given a new estimate from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggests one in 88 children has autism or a related disorder. The updated estimate makes autism spectrum disorders nearly twice as prevalent as they were thought to be five years ago, primarily because of increased screening and better diagnoses.
Also during Autism Awareness Month, publisher Houghton Mifflin is releasing a new children’s book titled “Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World,” by Sy Montgomery.
Just last month, Grandin was inducted along with nine other honorees into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.
In “Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds,” interviews with Grandin and her friends, colleagues and students make clear the reasons for these high-profile honors:
Betty Lehman, mom of an autistic son and executive director of the Autism Society of Colorado: “When people have children, they say, ‘Maybe my child will grow up to be president of the United States.’ Well, for us, we can say, ‘Maybe my child will grow up to be like Temple Grandin.’ She’s provided a role model for our community.”
Grandin: “In the ’70s, I had a friend who was an artist, and I used to go to the art building all the time. Somebody had scrawled on the wall of the art building, ‘Obstacles are those terrible things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.’ Well, I never forgot that.”
Eustacia Cutler, Grandin’s mother and her first advocate: “She did not spring like Athena from the head of Zeus fully armed and all-wise. It was a long, complicated, trauma-filled journey for both of us. The journey is what I believe in. The journey is what matters.”
Grandin: “I got self-esteem from being good at what I do. I’d show somebody my drawings, and they’d go, ‘Ooh, you drew that?’ I remember at an agricultural engineering meeting, when I first started, they thought I was weird, and they didn’t want to talk to me. Then I whipped out one of my drawings. Then I got some respect.”
Len Huskey, director of animal welfare and handling at JBS, the world’s leading meat processor: “Temple was very instrumental in developing the animal-handling guidelines for industry that over time were accepted and became recognized as the industry bible.”
Mick Jackson, director of the award-winning HBO movie, “Temple Grandin”: “The humanity of Temple is really what comes across to people. If Temple had done nothing more with her life than revolutionize the way that we treat animals in the meat-processing industry, she would have had a triumphant life. But she has been able to see beyond that, to look back at her own story and see what of that story she would tell to other people in a similar position, seeing always the things that you can do.”
Ruby Mayeda, chairwoman of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame board of directors: “We consider Temple Grandin to be a quintessential inductee because she’s not only changed and impacted the industry regarding animal behaviors, but she’s also, on a personal level, inspired many parents to see the potential for their children, and the children themselves to say, ‘If she can do it, I can do it too.”
Grandin: “I want to encourage the kids who are quirky and different to succeed because some of those minds that are different can do some really great things.”