Temple Grandin returns for second Arts and Issues appearance

When Temple Grandin last visited SIUE, she spoke to a sold-out, standing-room only crowd of more than 800 students, staff, faculty and community members. Upon her return Thursday, she could do more of the same, according to Arts and Issues director Grant Andree.

Temple Grandin returns to SIUE Feb. 27 for the second time as part of the Arts and Issues series. Photo courtesy of Grant Andree

Grandin, who is autistic, is an animal science professor at Colorado State University. In addition to regularly speaking about autism around the country, she designs cattle-handling facilities.

Grandin, according to Andree, is “one of the foremost experts on animal behavior in the world.”

“[The Arts and Issues event is] just a great opportunity to hear someone like Temple Grandin who has taken her autism and just succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination when she was growing up,” Andree said.

As a child, according to Andree, Grandin’s parents were told to institutionalize Grandin, but her mother refused.

Andree said Grandin was asked to return for Arts and Issues because she is “such a compelling speaker.”

“Through her, we have an opportunity to understand how someone with autism sees the world and how important this way of thinking can be to society,” Andree said.

Grandin’s lecture, “Different Kinds of Minds,” will explore “how we really need to harness these autistic individuals because they can be extremely beneficial to society because they look at things differently than we do,” according to Andree.

Grandin was last on campus in 2011, at which time Andree said she discussed animal behavior “in conjunction with how an autistic person sees things.” She also visited special education classes prior to the lecture. Special education and communications professor Wendy Fuchs arranged those sessions in 2011 and did the same for Grandin’s upcoming visit.

Fuchs said she organized the smaller sessions to benefit students studying disabilities, as well as for families who have a relative with autism. The sessions in 2011 were well-received, according to Fuchs, who said her current students are “just elated” about Grandin’s visit.

Junior special education major Rebekah Babb said she is excited about Grandin’s visit, in part, because she was unable to attend the 2011 lecture. Because she plans to teach children with autism, Babb said she is looking forward to hearing Grandin talk and hopes to take away information she can use in the classroom.

Fuchs said Grandin will speak at two, 45-minute sessions prior to the Arts and Issues lecture. Students will prepare questions for Grandin prior to the session, which roughly 100 people can attend.

Grandin speaking to students and families is “amazing,” according to Babb, because it will show parents that autism is “not just a diagnosis” and that those who have autism “can overcome so much.”

“I think that’ll be really inspirational to those parents,” Babb said.

Fuchs said she arranged the smaller sessions this visit because Grandin is “larger than life” for the special education and communications department. Her presence on campus is a “great opportunity” for students to interact with someone who has autism, Fuchs said.

Grandin, according to Fuchs, is also a “great role model” in that a person “can still have a disability but really achieve great things.”

Tickets are still available and are available at the Fine Arts Box Office in Dunham Hall from 8 a.m. – noon or at the information booth in the Morris University Center. Free tickets are available to the first 50 students. The event is sponsored by Madison County Regional Office of Education. For more information, visit artsandissues.com.

For more information about the smaller sessions, contact Fuchs at wfuchs@siue.edu.

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