Temple Grandin, by Sy Montgomery;
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children:
New York, 2012; $17.99
The world is not always a friendly place for people who think different. Temple Grandin thinks in pictures instead of words. She was unaware for a long time that her way of thinking was unlike that of others. As a young child she would have tantrums because she was frustrated that she could not communicate with others through words. Noises such as the ringing of the school bell were too loud for Temple, who was an autistic child. Many people thought she was retarded, including her father. Today she is a famous animal science professor and one of the most influential people in the livestock industry. Temple Grandin, a biography by Sy Montgomery, is about the journey of this remarkable woman from autistic child to successful professional living a great life.
As a child Temple found solace in doing what she calls “geeking out.” She did things that she enjoyed, and that’s how she found her friends. I think that’s a good way to make friends. You don’t need to worry about finding them, chasing after those that you want to be friends with. They come naturally. I remember I always followed a kid around the playground when I was in preschool. He was nice enough, but he didn’t seem to notice me. Now, in middle school, I don’t go looking for friends. I know that I can find friendship through things I enjoy.
Temple felt most at ease with animals, particularly cows. She discovered that she calmed down around cows, and the feeling was mutual. When she grew up she decided to pursue a career in improving living conditions for animals that would be used for our food. As an autistic person Temple was able to perceive what bothered the animals and, using her picture thinking, designed more comfortable accommodations for them.
Her animal-science professor vetoed her research idea for studying animal behaviors in different facilities. Instead of feeling trapped and not knowing what to do, Temple asked for help from the construction and industrial design department. She succeeded. This ability to rise from rejection and keep going impressed me. She didn’t spend any time feeling stuck, and just knocked on a different door. This shows that Temple is a flexible person, and being flexible means you won’t snap.
Temple was able to succeed because she had determination. She was able to focus intensely on things she was passionate about. This trait is common among great achievers throughout history. If one has the resolve, that person can surpass all obstacles, overcome impossible odds, and triumph. I think that is the key to success, even for kids. I have maintained my focus and determination to do well, and it has paid off.
Temple is a perfect example of a person who looks on the bright side of things. Instead of lamenting about her differences due to autism, she uses them to her advantage. I deeply admire that attitude. Temple Grandin is a great book that I hope you will read. Following Temple’s journey you will feel happy for her successes and be inspired to do great things.