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Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed - Temple Grandin 

Last Monday, I attended a talk given by Temple Grandin at the MIT Media Lab. Thanks to her presence in the media (i.e., she has been the topic of several documentaries, has appeared in numerous television shows and has written a number of books), she has helped increase awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Grandin, who as a child displayed all the signs of having autism including language delay, began the lecture by asking,  “When does normal variation become an abnormality?”  She then highlighted the uneven skills (superior ability in one area and significant delay/poor performance in another area) often observed in autism spectrum disorder, referred to herself as being a visual thinker and insisted that one should nurture those skills individuals are good at since “we need all kinds of minds”.

Furthermore, when she talked about autism research, she voiced her concerns about the DSM-5 and mentioned the challenges in study design that are associated with the heterogeneity of the autism spectrum.

The talk was open to the public and drew a diverse audience. It was clear that her personal experience and achievements (in addition to being an autism advocate, she has a Ph.D. in animal science, is professor at the Colorado State University and has done considerable work to help improve animal welfare) are particularly inspiring to people on the autism spectrum and their families.

It was great to hear her speak in person. Here’s a link to her website:



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