Eustacia Cutler Author Biography Essay

Temple Grandin Biography

Scientist, inventor, and author

Born August 29, 1947, in Boston, MA; daughter of Richard Grandin (a real estate agent) and Eustacia Cutler (a writer, singer, and actress; maiden name, Purves). Education: Franklin Pierce College, B.A. (with honors), 1970; Arizona State University, M.S., 1975; University of Illinois—Urbana, Ph.D., 1989.

Addresses: Office —Department of Animal Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.


Livestock editor, Arizona Farmer Ranchman , Phoenix, AZ, 1973-78; equipment designer, Corral Industries, Phoenix, 1974-75; founder and consultant, Grandin Livestock Handling Systems, 1975—; chair of handling committee, Livestock Conservation Institute, Madison, WI, 1976-95; Colorado State University, Fort Collins, began as lecturer, became associate professor of animal science, 1990—; animal welfare committee, American Meat Institute, 1991—.

Member: American Society of Animal Science, American Society of Agricultural Engineers, American Society of Agricultural Consultants, American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, National Institute of Animal Agriculture.

Awards: Recipient of numerous special education, livestock industry, and animal-welfare group awards, including: Meritorious Service, Livestock

Conservation Institute, 1984; Trammel Crow Award, Autism Society of America, 1989; Industry Innovator's Award, Meat Marketing and Technology magazine, 1994; Industry Advancement Award, American Meat Institute, 1995; Animal Management Award, American Society of Animal Science, 1995; Harry Rowsell Award, Scientists' Center for Animal Welfare, 1995; Respect for animals, their nature and welfare award, Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, 1995; Forbes Award, National Meat Association, 1998; Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Award for humane ethics in action, Purdue University, 1998; Woman of the Year in service to agriculture, Progressive Farmer magazine, 1999; Humane Award, American Veterinary Medical Association, 1999; Animal Welfare Award, Animal Transportation Association, 1999; Founders Award, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1999; Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, Humane Society of the United States, 2001; Richard L. Knowlton Award for Innovation, Meat Marketing and Technology magazine, 2001; Richard L. Knowlton Award for Innovation, Meat Marketing and Technology magazine, 2002; Animal Welfare Award, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty in Animals, 2002; University of Illinois Alumni Illini Comeback Award, 2002; President's Award, National Institute of Animal Agriculture, 2004.


Animal behavioral scientist Temple Grandin has devoted her career to improving conditions at the large processing plants that slaughter some of the 40 billion pounds of cattle and pigs for human consumption every year in the United States. She is a strong advocate for more humane livestock handling, and has designed numerous innovations at such facilities that help to reduce stress in the animals during their final minutes. Grandin's mission is deeply connected to her autism, and she credits this developmental brain disorder for her success as a scientist. Once she recognized that animals and autistic people share certain traits, such as a reliance on visual clues to navigate their environment, she began to rethink how livestock are handled in the beef and pork industry. Since the early 1990s, a large number of U.S slaughterhouses have implemented her designs and innovations, and comply with the humane-handling guidelines she authored for the American Meat Institute.

Grandin was born in 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father was a real estate agent, and her mother was a writer, singer, and actress who devoted her time to improving Grandin's life once she was a diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Autism is a developmental brain disorder, and its origins are the subject of tremendous scientific debate. Autism affects the areas of the brain that direct abstract thought, language, and social interaction, and Grandin displayed the classic symptoms of the condition in her earliest years—she spoke little, did not like to be held or touched, and was prone to dissolve into raging temper tantrums when provoked. In the early 1950s, however, autistic children were sometimes incorrectly judged to be developmentally disabled, and the medical profession often recommended institutionalization. Grandin's parents were told that their daughter was brain-damaged, and suggested a long-term care facility for her.

Grandin's mother instead took her to a neurologist, who proposed a course of speech therapy. She was duly enrolled in a program, and at home her mother read to her constantly. The family was also able to afford a caregiver whose job it was to play with Grandin and keep her from retreating into a corner, as autistic children prefer. Grandin's mother also sought out private schools with sympathetic staff who were willing to work with her daughter's special needs. Grandin credits this early intervention with pulling her out of the isolationist shell of autism and laying a path toward her professional success later in life.

As she grew older, Grandin became fascinated by rotating objects of any sort; such fixations are common in autism and another related condition, Asperger syndrome. She became incredibly stressed by anything that rotated or made a whirring noise, but learned that doors seemed to soothe her. Beset by panic attacks because of these fears, Grandin fled to her aunt's cattle ranch out West one summer during her teens.

One day at the ranch, Grandin saw a squeeze chute that ranchers commonly used to immobilize a cow so that it could be vaccinated or branded. The chute absolutely fascinated her, and her aunt agreed to let her try it out—and Grandin loved its soothing effect on her nerves. Back at home, she built her own squeeze chute in her bedroom, and an advanced version of that would go on to be used in scores of schools and treatment centers for autistic children in the years to come.

The summer on the ranch was significant for another revelation for Grandin: she began to sense that animals and autistic persons shared a signifi-cant trait: both relied on visual clues in order to navigate their world. For example, a squirrel will hide food in dozens of different places for the coming cold snap, but always knows where the acorns and corn cobs are stashed. Or an ant, passing by a landmark, will turn around and view it from the other side; Grandin says she does this too, while driving on her return trip. Furthermore, like autistic people, non-domesticated animals retreat from human touch.

Grandin entered Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, and graduated with honors in 1970. Though medical professionals discouraged her from using the homemade squeeze chute, one of her teachers suggested instead that she try to learn why it worked for her by studying science. She entered graduate school in animal science at Arizona State University, and began working in the cattle industry as well. She served as the livestock editor of the Arizona Farmer Ranchman for five years, and saw firsthand the methods used to slaughter cattle in the major meat-processing plants. She recognized that cattle, like some autistic people, exhibited signs of tremendous stress and anxiety when confronted by certain visual or audio clues.

Grandin began to think about reducing that unease by redesigning the chute which led the animals to their death. Her first success came when Corral Industries in Phoenix hired her to design some equipment for its plants, but Grandin recognized that though her autism was classified as the "high-functioning" kind, she did not have good interpersonal skills. Her communication with others was often blunt, and as a result she sometimes found herself alienated from co-workers. Grandin decided that working on her own, in temporary assignments, was probably preferable to a standard job where relationships developed over time, and so in 1975, the year she earned her master's degree, she founded her own company, Grandin Livestock Handling Systems.

Over the next two decades, Grandin became an expert in animal handling in slaughterhouses and one of the most respected names in her field. The results of the research studies she conducted were published in various academic journals and industry trade publications, and in 1989 she was granted her doctorate in animal science from the University of Illinois. By the mid-1990s, the fast-food industry began to pay attention to her work, thanks to a libel case that wound through the British court system. In that suit, associates of the Greenpeace environmental group wrote and distributed a leaflet about McDonald's, the fast-food giant, claiming that the practices at the slaughterhouses that worked under contract to McDonald's amounted to animal cruelty.

McDonald's, Burger King, and companies like ConAgra that sell meat to consumers via supermarket counters have perfected large-scale animal processing. These companies, or ones that work under contract to them, breed, feed, and slaughter cattle on vast rural facilities known as animal feeding operations, or APOs. Beef cattle are slaughtered between 14 to 16 months of age, and the process involves a shot to their foreheads with a stun gun, which renders them unconscious. The next step involves hoisting the animal up by one of its rear legs, and then its throat is slit on what is known as the bleed rail. If the stunning and slitting has been done properly, the animal dies quickly, and then moves on to other processing stations.

The McDonald's trial in Britain was a long and complicated legal proceeding, but one judge did agree that some of the accusations were founded, and that inhumane treatment sometimes occurred in the slaughterhouse. McDonald's hired Grandin as a consultant to improve conditions and avoid a wider public-relations debacle, and she first visited one of the company's APOs with several of the company executives. "The day I went to a cow slaughter plant, " she recounted in an interview with the Guardian 's Dan Glaister, "there was an emaciated half-dead skinny cow. They watched that walk up a ramp and right into their product. They were not happy."

One of the most significant innovations that Grandin devised was a chute that led cattle through the slaughterhouse. Standard chutes were built in a straight line, and the cattle could usually see what lay ahead. Grandin knew that if a cow saw something unexpected ahead of them, they froze in their tracks. She designed a circular chute with high walls to remedy this. Though her ideas and suggestions were initially greeted with skepticism in the beef industry, the owners of cattle plants quickly realized that thanks to Grandin's design the cattle hesitated less, and therefore plant efficiency improved. Grandin redesigned other elements in slaughterhouses, based on other findings from her research: cattle resist being led from bright sunlight into a darkened room, for example, do not like the color yellow, and are upset by clanking metal sounds.

Grandin's innovations were backed up by concrete results. She wrote about PSE, a classification of pork which stands for "pale, soft, and exudative, " or oozing. The condition, deemed unfavorable for meat quality, was tied to high levels of stress in pigs. Grandin urged plants to house hogs in less crowded conditions, and to keep them cool, even hosing them down if necessary, before slaughter. When her recommendations were implemented at a plant, PSE levels were reduced. She had the same results with cattle, suggesting improvements that led to a reduction in what the industry calls "dark-cutting beef." This is tied to reduced levels of glycogen in the muscles, which affects the pH balance of the meat.

McDonald's and other fast-food corporations, which are the largest processors of beef in the United States, began implementing Grandin's designs in the plants used by the companies. She has also written guidelines for the American Meat Institute, an industry group, and has devised an auditing system that rates how well a plant is complying with the Humane Slaughter Act, the federal guidelines for non-kosher meat-processing facilities in the United States. Her guidelines measure the number of animals that are still moving or making noises on the bleed rail, when they should theoretically have been stunned into unconsciousness, as well as how well the plant handles "downers, " or animals that are too weak or injured to walk on their own.

Grandin wrote about her work in the 2005 book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior , which she dictated to her co-author by telephone. In it, she concedes that while many animal welfare activists avoid eating meat entirely, livestock animals were essentially bred by humans to serve a purpose, and that humans should recognize their caretaking role and respond accordingly. "We owe them a decent life and a decent death, and their lives should be as low-stress as possible, " she writes. "That's my job. I wish animals could have more than just a low-stress life and a quick, painless death. I wish animals could have a good life, too, with something useful to do. People were animals, too, once, and when we turned into human beings we gave something up. Being close to animals brings some of it back."

Grandin lives in Colorado and is an associate professor of animal science at at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She is also the author of a 1986 autobiography, Emergence: Labeled Autistic , reissued ten years later when Grandin was becoming increasingly prominent in her field, as well as Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life with Autism. Eminent neurologist and author Oliver Sacks wrote the foreword to this last work, and Sacks also devoted an entire book of his own to Grandin's achievements, An Anthropologist on Mars.

Grandin wrote, with the help of co-author Kate Duffy, the 2004 book Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism. She also co-authored a book on social rules with Sean Barron titled Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships in 2005. She lectures frequently on the topic of autism, strongly urging parents and educators of autistic and Asperger-syndrome children to abide by some important rules—avoiding television and video games as a form of entertainment, for example—and encouraging the development of computer skills early on as a means of communication. Above all, she urges the non-afflicted to view the condition in a different light. "We've got to have a lot more emphasis on the talent, " she told reporter Anne Williams of the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard , "and not so much emphasis on the disability."

Selected writings

(With Margaret M. Scariano) Emergence: Labeled Autistic (autobiography), Arena Press (Novato, CA), 1986; Warner Books (New York City), 1996.

Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life with Autism (autobiography), foreword by Oliver Sacks, Doubleday (New York City), 1995.

(With Kate Duffy) Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism , Autism Asperger (Shawnee Mission, KS), 2004.

(With Catherine Johnson) Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior , Scribner (New York City), 2005.

(With Sean Barron) Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships , Future Horizons, 2005.



(With Catherine Johnson) Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior , Scribner (New York City), 2005.


Guardian (London, England), June 2, 2005, p. 4.

People , January 9, 1995, p. 42.

Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), October 12, 2003, p. C1.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), November 10, 1996, p. 1E.


Dr. Temple Grandin's Web Page, http://www. (August 18, 2005).

Dr. Temple Grandin, http://www.templegrandin. com (August 31, 2005).

Mary Temple Grandin (born August 29, 1947) is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and autism spokesperson. She is one of the first individuals on the autism spectrum to publicly share insights from her personal experience of autism. She invented the "hug box" device to calm those on the autism spectrum. In the 2010 Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, she was named in the "Heroes" category.[2] She was the subject of the award-winning semi-biographical film, Temple Grandin.

Early life[edit]


Temple Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, into a wealthy family. One of the Irish girls who worked for the family was also known as Mary so Grandin was referred to as Mary Temple, soon shortened to simply Temple.[3] Her mother is Anna Eustacia Purves (now Cutler), an actress, singer and granddaughter of the co-inventor for the autopilot aviation system (John Coleman Purves),[4] with a degree in English from Harvard University. Her father was Richard McCurdy Grandin,[5][6] a real estate agent and heir to the largest corporate wheat farm business in America at the time, Grandin Farms.[7] Grandin's parents divorced when she was 15, and her mother eventually went on to marry Ben Cutler, a renowned New York saxophonist, in 1965[8] (when Grandin was 18 years old). Her father Richard died in California in 1993. Grandin has three siblings: two sisters and a brother, with Grandin being the oldest. Grandin has described one of her sisters as being dyslexic. Her younger sister is an artist, her other sister a sculptor, and her brother a banker.[7][9]John Livingston Grandin (Temple's paternal great grandfather) and his brother William James Grandin, were FrenchHuguenots who drilled for oil, intending to cut a deal with John D. Rockefeller, but the latter kept him waiting too long so he walked out before Rockefeller arrived. Then they went into banking and when Jay Cooke's firm collapsed they got thousands of acres of undeveloped land in North Dakota as collateral. They set up wheat farming in the Red River Valley with dormitories for the workers; the town of Grandin, North Dakota, is named after John Livingston Grandin.[10][11] Although raised in the Episcopal religion, Temple Grandin early on gave up on a belief in a personal deity or intention in favor of what she considers a more scientific idea of God.[12]


Contrary to widely published reports, Grandin was never formally diagnosed with autism in childhood or in youth. The only formal diagnosis received by Grandin was of 'brain damage' at the age of 2,[13][14] a finding corroborated subsequently when she was 64 years old, by cerebral imaging carried out in 2010 at the University of Utah.[15] When Grandin was in her mid-teens, her mother chanced upon a checklist on autism published by Dr. Bernard Rimland, a renowned American psychologist and founder of the Autism Research Institute. Completing the checklist, Grandin's mother hypothesised that Grandin's symptoms were best explained by autism.[13] A formal diagnosis consistent with being on the autistic spectrum was made only when Grandin was in her 40s.[citation needed]

Early childhood[edit]

Grandin's mother, Eustacia, took her to the world's leading special needs researchers at the Boston Children's Hospital, with the hope of unearthing an alternative to institutionalization. Having the financial resources to hire specialists to ensure her daughter was not institutionalized, Grandin's mother eventually located a neurologist who suggested a trial of speech therapy. They soon hired a speech therapist, and Grandin received personalized input from the age of 2 and a half.[16] A nanny was also hired when Grandin was aged 3 to play educational games for hours with her.

Grandin's mother actively sought out and paid for private schools with sympathetic staff who were willing to work with her daughter's special needs[17] and thus, she started kindergarten in Dedham Country Day School. Her teachers and class worked towards adapting an environment easy for her to adjust to.

Grandin considers herself fortunate to have had supportive mentors from elementary school onward. Even so, Grandin states that junior high and high school were the most unpleasant times of her life.[18]

The medical advice at the time for a diagnosis of autism was to recommend institutionalization, a measure that caused a bitter rift of opinion between Grandin's parents.[14] Her father was keen to follow this advice while her mother was strongly opposed to the idea.

Middle and high school[edit]

Grandin attended Beaver Country Day School from 7th to 9th grade. She was expelled at the age of 14 for throwing a book at a schoolmate who had taunted her. Grandin has described herself as the "nerdy kid" whom everyone ridiculed. She has described occasions when she walked down the hallways and her fellow students would taunt her by saying "tape recorder" because of her habit of repetitive speech. Grandin states, "I could laugh about it now, but back then it really hurt."[19]

The year after her expulsion, Grandin's parents divorced. Grandin's mother remarried three years later to Ben Cutler, a renowned New York saxophonist.[8] At 15, Grandin spent a summer on the Arizonaranch of Ben Cutler's sister, Ann, and this would be a formative experience towards her subsequent career interest.

Following her expulsion from Beaver Country Day School (reports vary on the actual name of the school Grandin was expelled from, with Grandin herself noting it to be Cherry Falls Girls' School in her first book, Emergence: Labelled Autistic), Grandin's mother placed her in Mountain Country School (now known as Hampshire Country School), a private boarding school in Rindge, New Hampshire, for children with behavioral problems. It was here that Grandin met William Carlock, a science teacher who had worked for NASA, who would become her mentor and help significantly towards building up her self-confidence.[20]

It was Carlock who gave Grandin the idea to build herself a 'hug box' (referred to as a 'squeeze machine' by Grandin) when she returned from her aunt's farm in Arizona in her senior year of high school.[21] With Carlock's assistance, Grandin built her 'squeeze machine' at the age of 18 when she was still attending Mountain Country School.[22] Carlock's supportive role in Grandin's life continued even after she left Mountain Country School. For example, when Grandin was facing criticism for her 'squeeze machine' at Franklin Pierce College, it was Carlock who suggested that Grandin undertake scientific experiments to evaluate the efficacy of the device.[21] It was his constant guidance to Grandin to refocus her rigid obsessions with the 'squeeze machine' into a productive assignment that allowed this study undertaken by Grandin to be subsequently widely cited as evidence of Grandin's resourcefulness.

Higher education[edit]

After she graduated in 1966 from Mountain Country School, Grandin went on to earn her bachelor's degree in human psychology from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.


Grandin is a prominent and widely cited proponent for the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter. She is also internationally famous as a spokesperson on autism.[23]

Steve Silberman in his book NeuroTribes wrote that Temple Grandin helped break down years of shame and stigma because she was one of the first adults to publicly disclose that she was autistic. Bernard Rimland, a father of a son with autism and author of the book Infantile Autism, wrote the foreword to Grandin's first book Emergence: Labeled Autistic. The book was published in 1986. Dr. Rimland wrote "Temple's ability to convey to the reader her innermost feelings and fears, coupled with her capacity for explaining mental processes will give the reader an insight into autism that very few have been able to achieve."

In her later book Thinking in Pictures, published in 1995, the neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote at the end of the foreword that the book provided "a bridge between our world and hers, and allows us to glimpse into a quite other sort of mind."

In her early writings, Grandin made the mistake of presenting herself as a recovered autistic and in his foreword Bernard Rimland used the term recovered autistic individual. In her later writings, this has been removed. Steve Silberman wrote, "It became obvious to her, however, that she was not recovered but had learned with great effort to adapt to the social norms of the people around her."

When her book Thinking in Pictures was written in 1995, Grandin thought that all individuals with autism thought in photographic specific images the way she did. When the expanded edition was published in 2006, she now realized that it had been wrong to assume that every person with autism processed information the same way she did. In this edition, she wrote that there were three types of specialized thinking. They were: 1. Visual Thinkers like her who think in photographically specific images. 2. Music and Math Thinkers – these people think in patterns and may be good at mathematics, chess, and programming computers. 3. Verbal Logic Thinkers – These people think in word details and their favorite subject may be history.

In one of her newer books, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, the concept of three different types of thinking in autism is further developed. This book was published in 2013. An influential book which helped her develop her concept of pattern thinking was Clara Claiborne Park's book titled Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter's Life with Autism. It was published in 2001. The Autistic Brain also contains an extensive review of scientific studies that provide evidence that object visual thinking is different from spatial visualization abilities.

In 1980 she published her first two scientific articles on beef cattle behavior during handling: "Livestock Behavior as Related to Handling Facilities Design" in the International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, Vol. 1, pp. 33-52 and "Observations of Cattle Behavior Applied to the Design of Cattle Handling Facilities", Applied Animal Ethology, Vol. 6, pp. 19-31. She was one of the first scientists to report that animals are sensitive to visual distractions in handling facilities such as shadows, dangling chains, and other environmental details most people do not notice. When she got her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, she studied the effects of environmental enrichment on pigs. The title of her dissertation was "Effect of Rearing Environment and Environmental Enrichment on the Behavior and Neural Development in Young Pigs". Grandin expanded on these theories in her book Animals Make Us Human.

In 1993, she edited the first edition of Livestock Handling and Transport. She wrote three chapters and had chapters from contributors from around the world. Subsequent editions of the book were published in 2000, 2007, and 2014. In her academic work as a professor at Colorado State University, her graduate student Bridgett Voisinet conducted one of the early studies that showed that cattle that remained calm during handling had higher weight gains. In 1997, when the paper was published, this was a new concept. The paper is titled "Feedlot Cattle with Calm Temperaments Have Higher Average Daily Gains Than Cattle with Excitable Temperaments", published in The Journal of Animal Science, Vol. 75, pp. 892-896.

Another important paper published by Grandin was "Assessment of Stress During Handling and Transport", Journal of Animal Science, 1997, Vol. 75, pp. 249-257. This paper presented the idea that an animal's previous experiences with handling could have an effect on how it will react to being handled in the future, which was then a new concept in the animal-handling industry.

A major piece of equipment that Grandin developed was a center track (double rail) conveyor restrainer system for holding cattle during stunning in large beef plants. The first system was installed in the mid-eighties for calves and a system for large beef cattle was developed in 1990. This equipment is now being used by many large meat companies. It is described in "Double Rail Restrainer Conveyor for Livestock Handling", first published in the Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, Vol. 4, pp. 327-338 in 1988, and "Transferring results of behavioral research to industry to improve animal welfare on the farm, ranch, and slaughter plant", Applied Animal Behavior Science, Vol. 8, pp. 215-228, published in 2003.

Grandin also developed an objective numerical scoring system for assessing animal welfare at slaughter plants. The use of this scoring system resulted in significant improvements in animal stunning and handling during slaughter. This work is described in "Objective scoring of animal handling and stunning practices in slaughter plants", Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 212, pp. 36-39, "The feasibility of using vocalization scoring as an indicator of poor welfare during slaughter", Applied Animal Behavior Science, Vol. 56, pp. 121-128, and "Effect of animal welfare audits of slaughter plants by a major fast food company on cattle handling and stunning practices", Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 216, pp. 848-851.

Grandin is the author or co-author of over 60 peer reviewed scientific papers on a variety of other animal behavior subjects. Some of the other subjects are: the effect of hair whorl position on cattle behavior, preslaughter stress and meat quality, religious slaughter, mothering behavior of beef cows, cattle temperament, and causes of bruising.

She has lectured widely about her first-hand experiences of the anxiety of feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings, and of being dismissed and feared, which allegedly motivates her work in humane livestock handling processes. She studied the behavior of cattle, how they react to ranchers, movements, objects, and light. Grandin then designed adapted curved corrals, intended to reduce stress, panic and injury in animals being led to slaughter. This has proved to be a further point of criticism and controversy among animal activists who have questioned the congruence of a career built on animal slaughter alongside Grandin's claims of compassion and respect for animals. While her designs are widely used throughout the slaughterhouse industry, her claim of compassion for the animals is that because of her autism she can see the animals' reality from their viewpoint, that when she holds an animal's head in her hands as it is being slaughtered, she feels a deep, godlike connection to them.[24]

Her business website promotes improvement of standards for slaughterhouses and livestock farms. The 'squeeze machine' itself remains on sale at US$2000 each from Therafin Corporation.[22] In 2004, she won a "Proggy" award in the "Visionary" category, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.[25]

One of her notable essays about animal welfare is "Animals Are Not Things",[26] in which she posits that technically, animals are property in society, but the law ultimately gives them ethical protections or rights. She compares the properties and rights of owning cows, versus owning screwdrivers, enumerating how both may be used to serve human purposes in many ways, but when it comes to inflicting pain, there is a vital distinction between such "properties"; legally a person can smash or grind up a screwdriver, but cannot torture an animal.

Grandin became well-known beyond the American autistic community, after being described by Oliver Sacks in the title narrative of his book An Anthropologist on Mars (1995), for which he won a Polk Award; the title is derived from Grandin's description of how she feels around neurotypical people. She first spoke in public about autism in the mid-1980s, at the request of Ruth C. Sullivan, one of the founders of the Autism Society of America (ASA). Sullivan writes:

I first met Temple in the mid-1980s [at the] annual [ASA] conference. Standing on the periphery of the group was a tall young woman who was obviously interested in the discussions. She seemed shy and pleasant, but mostly she just listened. I learned her name was Temple Grandin. It wasn't until later in the week that I realized she was someone with autism. I approached her and asked if she'd be willing to speak at the next year's [ASA] conference. She agreed. The next year Temple first addressed an [ASA] audience. People were standing at least three deep. The audience couldn't get enough of her. 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"). She was asked many questions: "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 spoke from her own experience, and her insight was impressive. There were tears in more than one set of eyes that day. Temple quickly became a much sought-after speaker in the autism community.[27]

Based on personal experience, Grandin advocates early intervention to address autism and supportive teachers, who can direct fixations of the child with autism in fruitful directions. She has described her hypersensitivity to noise and other sensory stimuli. She claims she is a primarily visual thinker[28] and has said that words are her second language. Temple attributes her success as a humane livestock facility designer to her ability to recall detail, which is a characteristic of her visual memory. Grandin compares her memory to full-length movies in her head, that may be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details. She also is able to view her memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows.

Her insight into the minds of cattle has taught her to value the changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal-handling equipment. She was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in 2009.[29]

As a partial proponent of neurodiversity, Grandin does not support eliminating autism genes or treating mildly autistic individuals. However, she believes that autistic children who are severely handicapped need therapy with applied behavioral analysis.[30] However, she has claimed that she only will attend talks given by autistics that can hold down a career.[31][32] By contrast, Jonathan Mitchell describes Grandin as making generalizations about autistic people, saying that many autistics aren't visual thinkers and that her generalizations trivialize the difficulties associated with autism.[33] The autism activist Amy Sequenzia has criticized Temple Grandin for only focusing on and listening to high-functioning autistics, as opposed to low-functioning and non-speaking autistics. She has said that Grandin doesn't view those autistics as worthy of her attention.[34][35]

In 2012, when the American beef industry was struggling with public perception of its use and sale of pink slime, Grandin spoke out in support of the food product. She said, "It should be on the market. It should be labeled. We should not be throwing away that much beef."[36]

Personal life[edit]

"I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we've got to do it right. We've got to give those animals a decent life, and we've got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect."

—Temple Grandin

Grandin says that "the part of other people that has emotional relationships is not part of me", and she has neither married nor had children. She later stated for example that she preferred the science fiction, documentary, and thriller genre of films and television shows to more dramatic or romantic ones. Beyond her work in animal science and welfare and autism rights, her interests include horse riding, science fiction, movies, and biochemistry.

She has noted in her autobiographical works that autism affects every aspect of her life. She has to wear comfortable clothes to counteract her sensory processing disorder and has structured her lifestyle to avoid sensory overload. She regularly takes antidepressants, but no longer uses a squeeze-box (hug machine), a device which she invented at the age of 18 as a form of stress relief therapy,[22] stating in February 2010 that: "It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I'm into hugging people now."[37]


In 2010, Grandin was named in the Time 100 list of the one hundred most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category.[2] In 2011, she received a Double Helix Medal.[38] She has received honorary degrees from many universities including Carnegie Mellon University in the United States (2012), McGill University in Canada (1999), and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (2009), and Emory University (2016).[39] In 2015, she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication.[40]

Grandin received a Meritorious Achievement Award from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in 2015.[41]

In 2016, Grandin was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[42]

In 2017, Grandin was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[43][44][45]

In popular culture[edit]

Grandin has been featured on major media programs, such as Lisa Davis' It's Your Health, ABC's Primetime Live, the Today Show, Larry King Live, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She has been written up in TIME magazine, People magazine, Discover magazine, Forbes, and The New York Times.[46][47] In 2012, Grandin was interviewed on Thriving Canine Radio to discuss "A Different Perspective on Animal Behavior".

She was the subject of the Horizon documentary, "The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow", first broadcast by the BBC on June 8, 2006, and Nick News with Linda Ellerbee in the spring of 2006.[48] She also has been the subject of the first episode in the series First Person by Errol Morris.

Grandin is the focus of a semi-biographical HBO film, titled Temple Grandin,[49][50] starring Claire Danes as Grandin. The film was broadcast on February 6, 2010. The movie was nominated for 15 Primetime Emmy Awards and won seven awards, including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Claire Danes.[51] Grandin was on stage as the award was accepted, and she spoke briefly to the audience. Coincidentally, the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards happened on Grandin's birthday – August 29. On January 16, 2011, at the 68th Golden Globe Awards, Claire Danes won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film.

Grandin was featured in Beautiful Minds: A Voyage Into the Brain, a documentary produced in 2006 by colourFIELD tell-a-vision, a German company. She was named one of 2010's one hundred most influential people in the world by Time magazine.[2] In 2011, she was featured in an episode of the Science documentary series Ingenious Minds.

She also was interviewed by Michael Pollan in his best-selling book, The Omnivore's Dilemma,[52] in which she discussed the livestock industry.

Folk-punk band AJJ, formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad, included two songs called "Temple Grandin" and "Temple Grandin Too" on their LP Christmas Island.[53]


  • Emergence: Labeled Autistic (with Margaret Scariano, 1986, updated 1991), ISBN 0-446-67182-7
  • The Learning Style of People with Autism: An Autobiography (1995). In Teaching Children with Autism : Strategies to Enhance Communication and Socialization, Kathleen Ann Quill, ISBN 0-8273-6269-2
  • Thinking in Pictures: Other Reports from My Life with Autism (1996) ISBN 0-679-77289-8
  • Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism (2004). ISBN 1-931282-56-0
  • Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (with Catherine Johnson, 2005), ISBN 0-7432-4769-8
  • The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism (with Sean Barron, 2005), ISBN 1-932565-06-X
  • The Way I See It: A Personal Look At Autism And Asperger's (2008), ISBN 9781932565720
  • Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best life for Animals (with Catherine Johnson, 2009), ISBN 978-0-15-101489-7
  • The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum (with Richard Panek, 2013), ISBN 978-0-547-63645-0
  • The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults (with Debra Moore Ph.D., 2016), ISBN 978-1941765203
  • Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals, Second Edition (with Mark Deesing, 2013), ISBN 978-0-12-394586-0
  • Improving animal welfare: a practical approach (2010). ISBN 978-1-84593-541-2, CABI, UK
  • Livestock handling and transport (2007). ISBN 978-1-84593-219-0. CABI, UK.
  • Grandin, T. 2013. Making slaughterhouses more humane for cattle, pigs, and sheep. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences. 1:491-512.
  • Grandin, T. 2001. Cattle vocalizations are associated with handling and equipment problems at beef slaughter plants. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. Volume 71, 2001, Pg. 191-201.
  • Grandin, T. 1996. Factors That Impede Animal Movement at Slaughter Plants. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 209 No.4:757-759.
  • Grandin, T. 1995. Restraint of Livestock. Proceedings: Animal Behaviour Design of Livestock and Poultry Systems International Conference (pages 208-223). Published by: Northeast Regional Agriculture Engineering Service. Cooperative Extension. 152 Riley – Robb Hall, Ithaca, New York, 14853 USA.
  • Grandin, T. 1994. Euthanasia and Slaughter of Livestock. Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association. Volume 204:1354-1360.
  • Grandin, T. 1989 (Updated 1999). Behavioral Principles of Livestock Handling. Professional Scientist. December 1989 (pages 1–11).

See also[edit]


  1. ^Montgomery, Sy (April 3, 2012). Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 0547443153. 
  2. ^ abcMarc Hauser (April 29, 2010). "The 2010 Time 100. In our annual TIME 100 issue, we name the people who most affect our world: Temple Grandin". Time. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  3. ^page 204 of A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story by Eustacia Cutler
  4. ^Chapter 10 of A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story by Eustacia Cutler
  5. ^
  6. ^"United States Federal Census". Geni - a MyHeritage Company. August 5, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ abGrandin, Temple (n.d.). "Autism Research Institute". Autism Research Institute. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  8. ^ ab"Ben Cutler, 96, Whose Bands Entertained the Society Set". The New York Times. 2001-01-15. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  9. ^page 205 of A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story by Eustacia Cutler
  10. ^Chapter 10 The Legacy Of Genes in "A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin's Mother Tells the Family Story" by Eustacia Cutler
  11. ^Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of North Dakota (1977). The WPA Guide To 1930s North Dakota (2nd ed.). State Historical Society of North Dakota. pp. 193–194. ISBN 1891419145. 
  12. ^Sacks, Oliver (1996). An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales. New York: Vintage Books: A division of Penguin Random House, LLC. p. 282. 
  13. ^ abScariano, Margaret (1986). Emergence: Labelled Autistic. Arena Press. ISBN 0710400632. 
  14. ^ abGrandin, Temple (January 2, 2006). "Wrong Planet". Interview with Temple Grandin. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  15. ^Grandin, Temple (2013). The Autistic Brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0547636458. 
  16. ^White, Randall (2005). "Autism First-Hand: An Expert Interview with Temple Grandin". Medscape Psychiatry. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  17. ^"Encyclopaedia of World Biography". Encyclopaedia of World Biography. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 
  18. ^Temple., Grandin, (2006). Thinking in pictures : and other reports from my life with autism (2nd Vintage books ed ed.). New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0307275655. OCLC 63040769. 
  19. ^'Temple Grandin Inducted into Colorado Women's Hall of Fame',, retrieved 30 June 2013.
  20. ^"How the squeeze machine came to be - Aspergers Test Site". Aspergers Test Site. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  21. ^ ab"How the squeeze machine came to be - Aspergers Test Site". Aspergers Test Site. Retrieved 2016-03-10. 
  22. ^ abcTemple Grandin (Spring 1992). "Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals". Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2 (1): 63–72. doi:10.1089/cap.1992.2.63. PMID 19630623. 
  23. ^"Temple Grandin – Speaker Profile and Speaking Topics". 
  24. ^Coe, Sue (2012). Cruel: bearing witness to animal exploitation. New York: OR Books. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-935928-72-0. 
  25. ^"2004 PETA Proggy Awards". PETA. 2004-09-30. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  26. ^"Animals are not things". Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  27. ^The Way I See It: A Personal Look at … – Temple Grandin – Google Books. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  28. ^Grandin T (2009). "How does visual thinking work in the mind of a person with autism? A personal account". Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 364 (1522): 1437–42. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0297. PMC 2677580. PMID 19528028. 
  29. ^"2009 ASABE Fellows". American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  30. ^Wrong Planet – Aspergers and Autism Community. "Interview with Temple Grandin". Wrong Planet. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  31. ^Sandison, Ron. "Temple Grandin to Autistic adults: get your butts out of the house and get a job | The Art of Autism". The Art of Autism. Retrieved 4 November 2017. 
  32. ^Sandison, Ron (26 April 2017). "The Day I Met Temple Grandin". Autism Speaks. Retrieved 4 November 2017. 
  33. ^Osborne, Lawrence (2002). American Normal : The Hidden World of Asperger Syndrome. New York: Copernicus. pp. 114–115, 155, 158–159. ISBN 978-0-387-95307-6. 
  34. ^Sequenzia, Amy (19 January 2013). "When Autistics Grade Other Autistics". Ollibean. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  35. ^Sequenzia, Amy. "Amy Sequenzia". Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  36. ^"Animal scientist Temple Grandin supports 'pink slime'". Washington Post. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  37. ^Claudia Wallis: "Temple Grandin on Temple Grandin". Time, February 4, 2010
  38. ^"Double Helix Medals of 2011". Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  39. ^Grandin, Temple. "Professional resume". Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  40. ^Seitz, Marisa. "Recognition Monday: Temple Grandin Named Honorary Fellow". stc's notebook. Society for Technical Communication. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015.
Temple Grandin at TED 2010

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