Temple Grandin speaks on ‘the design process, autism and animals’


Taylor Hagie/Iowa State Daily

Temple Grandin, animal science professor at Colorado State University, speaks about autism and animal behavior in the Memorial Union on Sept. 13.

Jordyn Dubois

Temple Grandin, autism advocate and animal behavior expert, spoke about the need for understanding of how animals and people think in her lecture Thursday night in the Great Hall.

More people need to consider the differences and similarities between how animals and humans think, Grandin said.

Being someone with autism herself, Grandin said she always puts her experiences in her work first and her autism second.

Growing up, Grandin found comfort in the cattle at her aunt’s farm and made it a priority to make sure they were treated as humanely as they could.

Taking the time to understand how animals are feeling and how they see situations is important to her, Grandin said. 

Something as simple as a paper towel many not seem distracting at first, but when you put it in an unordinary place, animals may be scared by the unfamiliar nature of the object.

“Animals are more afraid of a paper towel, then going into the shoot,” Grandin said.  

This is apparent in both animals and people with autism; they are always on the lookout for danger and fear, Grandin said.  

Grandin said a first experience is important to both animals and people because if it’s negative, it will be hard to forget.

This may cause an animal to be fearful, and Grandin said a calm animal is easier to handle than one that is scared.

In today’s society, Grandin said kids and people with autism are afraid of making a mistake. Kids need to be working and making things, and that’s how they learn, Grandin said.

People need to slow down and pay attention to how the people or animals in the situation feel as opposed to rushing the outcome.

“Kids have to learn how to do stuff on a schedule, outside the home,” Grandin said.

It’s also important to recognize kids learn in different ways, like herself, sensory learners sort experiences and ideas into categories.

“Every thought I have is in pictures, I don’t think in words,” Grandin said.

Lane Hacker, a senior at Iowa State and longtime fan of Grandin, said the way Grandin is an advocate for kids and gaining hands on experiences is impactful to him.