Springingtiger's Blog

Watching Temple Grandin

I went to bed far too late yesterday, I blame my wife. Among the bundle of books she ordered from Amazon was the DVD of HBO’s Temple Grandin starring Clare Danes. I thought I’d just watch the first hour of the film and put my light out at 10:00, aye right! In the end I watched the whole film and put my light out at 11:00 and was hardly aware of the passage of time. I was utterly enthralled and frequently moved to tears, I loved this film! I had to go to work having not had enough sleep, but I don’t mind, I’m happy and grateful to have a job the majority of Aspies don’t.

One of the benefits of reading people’s experiences of autism is to enable one to better recognise one’s own experiences, but watching a film has so much more power, not only to bring an intellectual recognition, but also a visceral re-experiencing of events. In most ways Temple Grandin’s life has been different to mine, but many of her experiences – as portrayed in the film – were very similar (the depiction of sensory overload I found very powerful and I loved some of the examples of literalism). They say, “when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism” however there is enough common experience to make a film like Temple Grandin a valuable tool for increasing awareness. #

It’s no wonder Temple Grandin is such a hero to the autism community, she overcame serious autism to carve a successful career and became a champion and role model for, and figure head of the autism community. The DVD packaging describes her as giving autism a voice, and I think she has. She is one of those people who have made it possible for autistic people to advocate for themselves, to be accepted as having opinions as valid as “normal” people’s. I was struck by a comment made by Kev Leitch (LBRB) in the book Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, “I had become a firm proponent of the idea that autistic people had rights and that one of those rights was their right to be autistic”, The film shows that it is possible – in some cases – with commitment and understanding to live and thrive with autism and those who do have a message of hope for parents of children with autism. InTemple Grandin’s case autism brought with it particular gifts, this may not be true of all of us, but by understanding and meeting the needs of the individual with autism it is possible in many cases for the autistic to have rich and rewarding lives. There is a wonderful scene at the end of the film where Temple Grandin and her mother attend an autism conference, after a few minutes of listening to an ‘expert’ pontificating about stimming Temple Grandin stands up and contradicts him from her experience; perhaps the scene of parents actually wanting to hear what an autistic person has to say may not hold true for some of us, but it is an inspiring scene and a model of how the autism community should be working together.


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I don’t mind you using my blog’s to publicise your site, but I consider it ill mannered and selfish not to contribute any actual content. Next time you want to use someone else’s blog to publicise your own please actually share, don’t just be a user!

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