“Animal scientist and advocate for people with autism Temple Grandin [was] inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame,” the AP reports. Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, earned fame when Claire Danes portrayed her in the 2010 HBO film Temple Grandin (the DVD of which features Grandin’s own commentary).

As the Hall of Fame’s release notes, “Grandin is a world-renowned animal behaviorist and designer of livestock handling facilities, developer of animal welfare programs, and consultant on animal care standards. . . . Grandin has published several hundred industry publications and seven books.”

By making slaughterhouses more efficient, less chaotic, and more humane, Grandin helped save costs associated with processing cattle and also made the beef tastier. As the HBO film points out, calm cattle free of surging adrenaline produce better beef.

But Grandin revolutionized more than the cattle industry; she also revolutionized how doctors and the public view people with autism. She coped with the disability, helped others cope with it, helped doctors better understand it, and educated the public about what living with autism means.

As Ayn Rand wrote in notes published in her journals, a man’s “natural endowments . . . are merely his material or his tools; his self-respect must be based, not on these attributes, but on what he does with them.” Grandin certainly made the most of her endowments to become one of the most justly respected scientists in her field.

If we who are fortunate enough not to have autism or some comparable disability are ever tempted to think “life’s too hard” or “I never got a lucky break,” we can look to Temple Grandin for inspiration regarding what’s possible to a person dedicated to doing her best.

Congratulations, Dr. Grandin, for this award and for a life well lived. And thank you for your example.

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Image: Creative Commons by Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia

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