Temple Grandin, Autism and Animal Behavior Expert, to Speak October 9

Temple Grandin, an advocate for people with autism whose life story was the subject of an Emmy Award–winning HBO full-length film, will speak at UT at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 9.

Grandin, who also is an inventor and renowned animal behavior expert, will deliver the third annual Ken and Blaire Mossman Distinguished Lecture in the Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building.

Grandin will address students, faculty, and staff during the lecture, which is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.

Free parking is available in the Stadium Drive G10 Parking Garage at 1500 Phillip Fulmer Way, adjacent to Neyland Stadium.

Grandin is one of the most accomplished and best-known adults with autism in the world. During her presentation, she will discuss how people with different kinds of minds—from visual thinkers like artists to pattern thinkers like mathematicians to wordsmiths—can work together to accomplish impactful things.

“Take the iPhone interface. It is easy to use. It was invented by an artist. Steve Jobs was an artist,” she said, adding that he collaborated with engineers to design its inner workings.

The Mossman lecture series—which aims to share the power and wonder of science with the campus and greater community—was established through an estate gift from the late Ken and Blaire Mossman, who were UT alumni.

Following the lecture, Grandin will hold a book signing. Copies of her books will be available for sale at the event.

Grandin speaks widely about the education of children on the autism spectrum. She said children labeled as autistic are typically good at a skill. “But I worry about all their other abilities not getting developed,” she said.

One way to grow those abilities is to provide youngsters with different experiences.

“Students get interested in things they are exposed to,” Grandin said.

She cautioned against overgeneralizing about people on the autism spectrum, noting that “the autism label applies to someone who runs a Silicon Valley company [as well as] to someone who can’t put on their shoes.”

Grandin invented the hug box, a device used to calm people on the autism spectrum.

A professor of animal science at Colorado State University, Grandin is also a well-known consultant on animal welfare. She designed a humane livestock restraint system widely used in the United States and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.

Grandin’s life, with all its challenges and successes, was brought to the screen in the award-winning film Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes. She has been featured on National Public Radio and on numerous TV shows including the BBC special The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow, ABC’s PrimeTime Live, and NBC’s Today. She gave a 2010 TED Talk titled “The World Needs ALL Kinds of Minds.”

She has authored several books on autism and on humane livestock handling. Her current best-selling book on autism is The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s. She also has written Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, Animals Make Us Human, Animals in Translation, Thinking in Pictures, and Emergence: Labeled Autistic.

Grandin’s lecture marks the third year for the Mossman series. Bill Nye delivered the inaugural lecture in 2015, and Alan Alda delivered last year’s lecture. The Mossmans’ gifts also endow a scholarship in Romance languages and support student efforts in intercultural and multicultural initiatives. UT’s new science and laboratory building at Cumberland Avenue and 13th Street, which is under construction and scheduled to open in fall 2018, is named in the couple’s honor.

CONTACT:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)