Temple Grandin: A Breath of Fresh Air

Imagine my happy surprise to switch on the radio Tuesday morning and hear Terry Gross interviewing Temple Grandin on NPR’s Fresh Air. Turns out the show was a re-broadcast. It’s “Animal Week” on Fresh Air, and their January 5, 2009 interview with Grandin was one of their best animal-related stories this year, so they decided to air it again. You see, Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science, and she’s the author of many books. She also happens to have autism.

Two years ago Heather Pint published a book review here of Temple Grandin’s memoir, Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. In her review, Pint described Grandin’s early years as isolating, particularly since autism spectrum disorders were fairly unknown at the time.

During the Fresh Air interview Tuesday, Terry Gross asked Grandin what it was that prevented her from being isolated like that her entire life. Grandin’s answer? Early intervention. “I started speech therapy when I was two-and-a-half years old.”

Patricia Wright, the National Director of Autism Services here at Easter Seals, wrote a blog post last April about the merits of early intervention.

Autism affects everyone differently and involves challenges in communication, social skills, and behaviors. If you’re worried your child may have autism — or feel something just isn’t right — follow your instincts. Don’t assume that your child will catch up. Share your concerns with your pediatrician. Look into your state’s early intervention program. Get a diagnosis. And seek support from community service and treatment providers like Easter Seals.

I’m sure Temple Grandin would agree with Patricia! If you missed the Fresh Air interview you can access it as a Fresh Air archived podcast or via iTunes.


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