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Temple Grandin

(1947– )

Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin is an author, activist, and professor who has developed profound insights into the welfare and needs of animals through her own autistic condition. Born in Boston on August 29, 1947, Grandin was diagnosed with brain damage and autism at an early age, preventing her from communicating through words until she was three-years-old. She credits the early mentoring and attention of her private school teachers with the development of her visual thought process. She explains, "Visual thinking has enabled me to build entire systems in my imagination." Grandin obtained a Bachelor's degree in Psychology in 1970 and later completed a PhD in Animal Science, intensifying her focus toward one of her principal inspirations, livestock.

An early involvement in her aunt's livestock business in Arizona led Grandin to design a machine known as the Hug Box. Observing how cattle responded calmly to being branded after being placed in a squeeze chute, Grandin recognized her own impulse to envelop herself in blankets or burrow in spaces with deep pressure. In college she designed and built a Hug Box for human use, in which two padded boards exert an even amount of pressure along the sides of the body, alleviating stress and hyper-stimulated nerves. Today, the invention's role in autism therapy has been nationally recognized; several centers employing Grandin's invention have reported its calming effects, especially in children. Grandin later dedicated herself to the reformation of animal slaughter plants and livestock farms by designing alternative facilities. Currently an associate professor at Colorado State University, Grandin continues her work in humane animal handling methods both in practice and theory, outlined in the 2002 essay, "Animals are Not Things: A View on Animal Welfare Based on Neurological Complexity." Grandin was also the subject of an award-winning biographical film, Temple Grandin, and in 2010, she was listed in Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category.

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