#ShiningontheSpectrum: Dr. Temple Grandin

As a Spectrumite growing up, I always felt like I needed to blaze my her experiences as a Spectrumite on the second morning. On the evening that she arrived, unbeknownst to me, she was asked to take a picture with me, which was a huge honor for me on a personal level; so huge that own path in life; all this with the support of my friends and family. During that time, even with all that support being there for me, the question that always surrounded me, then as now, was what I wanted to be growing up. A long time ago, I had made my decision that one way or another, I wanted to be a published poet.

I had my flashes of brilliance inside magazines like Chronogram and in the Hudson Valley poetry scene and to know if fame or recognition would ever be in my cards. It wasn’t so much the work I put into my poetry was even included (as noted by my earlier blog post) inside Riverine from Codhill Press. Still, I wanted; needed, but the waiting game that was getting to me, even as I knew one day my patience would pay off..at least one day.

Nevertheless, my desire to know if my autism was a good thing always drove me to wonder at times, it was my late friend Larry that introduced me to someone that had a birthday recently, one who was like me; yet different, she was a successful Spectrumite; one whose name was well known in the autism community. She was (and still is) a pioneer in the cattle industry at Colorado State University. She was someone who had beaten what doctors, specialists and her own critics (who felt her odd and should be institionalized, as the film based on her life can share, expertly done by Claire Danes) had considered a formality at that time: that her autism would hinder her more than help her.

But her autism, much like mine, has helped so many parents, fellow Spectrumites (myself included) and so many professionals see autism in a new and exciting way. She, like me, is a visual thinker; someone who may catch things that neurotypicals may miss or not seem important. Her attention to detail was another point that I see in my life as well. Sometimes I’ll find some flaws and can’t call a poem or task finished until I leave no doubt in my mind that the job is the best I know it can be.

I saw her twice in my life, but it was the second time when I was at SUNY Ulster that I’ll always remember, she spoke about livestock one night as well as I really had no words for it, all I could think of was how thankful I was, not only to her, but to Larry as well, for being the one who suggested I looked her up and read her books. But this is my way of wishing Dr. Temple Grandin a wonderful birthday and to thank her for being an inspiration to all Spectrumites around the world!!!

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