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Famous prof a focus of Autism Awareness Month

April 4, 2011

Temple Grandin's remarkable influence in autism advocacy and farm-animal welfare continues to grow, and the world-renowned animal scientist is a feature of National Autism Awareness Month commemorations at Colorado State University in April.

Keynote address at CSU symposium on college students with autism spectrum disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders Symposium

Autism and My Sensory-Based World – a prelude to Autism Awareness Month – drew a capacity crowd of more than 400 people to Grandin's home campus.

Grandin is a CSU College of Agricultural Sciences professor, autistic woman and global force for livestock welfare. She’s in top demand as an international speaker. After all, her early life is the focus of an acclaimed HBO feature film called "Temple Grandin," and she was honored a year ago as one of TIME magazine’s "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Grandin made time in her busy schedule to deliver two highly praised presentations at CSU as a prelude to National Autism Awareness Month.

CSU Autism Symposium

Autism and My Sensory-Based World was Grandin's keynote talk during a first-ever CSU symposium called "Transition and Transformation: Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the College Environment." The symposium focused on identifying and meeting the unique needs of these students on college and university campuses, a growing issue nationwide.

Grandin is passionate about the need to match student abilities with academic fields and career paths that will allow them to flourish and contribute meaningfully to the world. Her own sensitivities have allowed Grandin a unique connection to animals. This connection – and her capacity for visual thinking – led her to design humane livestock-handling and auditing systems that have changed an entire global industry.

CSU Provost Rick Miranda

"It’s part of our mission to embrace this community of students, and that requires more understanding on our part to recognize how they can be successful," CSU Provost Rick Miranda said at the symposium, noting that many students on the spectrum have extraordinary talents. "These students have a lot to offer."

Symposium draws more than 400 parents, educators and students

Resources & Information

More about support for CSU students on the autism spectrum:

2011 Autism Symposium

Grandin to deliver keynote at symposium

Peer support for students with autism and Asperger

Parents, educators and autistic students were among some 400 people attending the symposium, an indication of the appetite for information as students transition to colleges and universities, said Rosemary Kreston, director of CSU Resources for Disabled Students and a symposium planner.

The symposium featured expert speakers from across the country and showcased information about CSU efforts to support students on the autism spectrum; this work is led by Cathy Schelly, assistant professor in the CSU Department of Occupational Therapy, an academic program recently ranked among the best of its kind in the nation.

Dr. Grandin's 'My Favorite Lecture'

My Favorit Lecture

The World Needs all Kinds of Minds

Grandin also offered an installment in the "My Favorite Lecture" series sponsored by the CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning. Nearly 300 CSU students and others from the campus community attended.

The talk, "The World Needs All Kinds of Minds," reflects Grandin’s experience: Autism allows her to think in pictures. The ability has made her visionary. Grandin’s insights into animal behavior inspire her humane livestock-handling technologies. Her designs have been adopted by some of the world’s largest food producers, processors and retailers.

National Autism Awareness Month

Other CSU highlights of National Autism Awareness Month:

Movie Poster

Temple Grandin swept all the major categories at the Emmy Awards.


  • 7:15 p.m. Thursday, April 14, Behavioral Sciences Building Auditorium – "Temple Grandin," the HBO biopic, wasn’t in theaters. But people have the chance to watch the movie on a big screen during a free showing on the campus where Grandin works and teaches. Please RSVP for the event at the website.The movie, released in 2010, depicts Grandin’s early life and career as she struggled to cope with autism and ultimately found comfort and success in her connection to animals. Just last August, the movie won an impressive seven Emmy Awards, sweeping all the major categories; actress Claire Danes also won a Golden Globe for her work in the title role. Introducing the movie will be a representative of the CSU Occupational Therapy Department, which has a new research project under way meant to assist students on the autism spectrum.
  • 5 p.m. Monday, April 18, Fort Morgan, Colo. – CSU alumni and university friends are invited to the Morgan County CSU Alumni Annual Dinner, with Grandin as featured speaker. Event proceeds benefit the Morgan County CSU Alumni Scholarship Fund. The dinner will be at Country Steak Out Restaurant and Lounge; cost is $25 per person. The evening event is part of the Colorado State Community Tour. For information and to register, visit www.alumni.colostate.edu.
  • Grandin also was recently featured as the subject of an "Ingenious Minds" episode on the Discovery Science Channel. The series highlights people with extraordinary abilities in art, music and mathematics, who also suffer from intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Grandin episode follows the CSU phenom  through a day in Fort Collins, as she teaches a livestock-handling class, visits a CSU research facility, and interacts with horses at her ranch near town. The show has a neurological focus, with expert analysis of Grandin’s brain scans. To view the episode online, visit science.discovery.com/tv/ingenious-minds.
  • Also during National Autism Awareness Month in April, watch for an advertisement in TIME celebrating Grandin’s research and teaching in the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences.