Temple Grandin at Telluride's Palm Theatre Monday

Temple Grandin at Telluride's Palm Theatre Monday

Monday, May 2 , 5:30 p.m.,Temple Grandin is scheduled to speak in Telluride at the Palm Theatre. Yes, THE Temple Grandin.

Temple Grandin became as much of a fixture on the awards show circuit as her Tinseltown counterpart, Claire Danes. And when the lovely Danes won a Golden Globe Award, she made very sure to honor the woman who inspired the eponymous biopic. The film focused on the giant strides Grandin made in the fields of autism advocacy and animal welfare.

A high-functioning autistic,Temple Grandin did not speak until age four. Ultimately, however, she went on to earn a B.A. in psychology and masters and doctorate degrees in animal science. Today Grandin is a full professor at Colorado State University, best-selling author, inventor, designer, consultant.

Autism is general term used to describe a group of complex spectrum of developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Autism produces significant impairment in social, communicative, cognitive, and behavioral functioning, typically lasting a person's lifetime. The syndrome may affect as many as 1 in every 110 children (estimates differ, but the numbers are sobering), making it a more common condition than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually.

Grandin first spoke out in public about autism in the mid-1980s. The next year, when she once again addressed the Autism Society of America, the audience was standing three deep. Here, for the first time, was someone who could tell us from her own experience what it was like to be extremely sound sensitive: "Like being tied to the rail and the train's coming."

At the Palm, Grandin could questions that have become part of her script: "Why does my son do so much spinning?" "Why does he hold his hands to his ears? "Why doesn't he look at me?" She could also easily and lovingly talk about the unique relationship between autistics and animals. In her book, "Animals in Translation," Grandin describes autistic people such as herself as a kind of way station on the road from animals to humans, putting autistics in a perfect position to translate "animal talk." Grandin believes animals are much smarter than most people understand.

Grandin is listed in the 2010 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the category “Heroes”.

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