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Autistic author to talk in Adrian on humane treatment of animals

  • Hormel-Foods-Temple-Grandin-Ronald-Browning

    Temple Grandin, right, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and Ronald S. Browning, assistant pork procurement manager at Hormel Foods Austin (Minn.) Plant, discuss features of the hog holding facility in 2010.

    Business Wire

  • Temple-Grandin

    Temple Grandin

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Temple-Grandin

Temple Grandin

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ADRIAN -- Best-selling author and university professor Temple Grandin, who is the focus of a 2010 Emmy-award winning biopic about her life with autism and her advocacy for the humane treatment of livestock, brings her no-nonsense wit and wisdom to Adrian College on Thursday night.

An acclaimed speaker known to candidly describe the challenges she has faced as a person with high-functioning autism, Ms. Grandin offers ideas on how others can meet obstacles and improve the quality of their lives.

Her speech, which is free to the public and starts at 7 p.m. in Dawson Auditorium, will include her thoughts on autism and animal behavior. She'll also talk about different kinds of minds and how people with different skills are good at doing different things.

"I talk about how being a visual thinker helped me in my work with animals," she said. "They don't think in words, they think in pictures, they think in sounds, they think in touch sensations."

College campuses are some of her favorite venues. "I like to get students interested in new ways of looking at things and thinking about things," she said.

When she's not touring the country giving speeches, Ms. Grandin said she is supervising graduate students who are doing research on behavior patterns in female cows in defending their calves from from predators such as wolves and coyotes. The findings could help farmers during breeding. "We are finding that different momma cows have different strategies to protect their calf," she said. "You want a cow that's gentle, but you don't want a cow that just goes 'OK, coyote-wolfies, eat my calf.'" Ms. Grandin said she enjoys doing research that has a practical application.

Ms. Grandin also does work with slaughterhouses and auditing. Slaughterhouses have become more humane in their handling of animals because of demands of large restaurant companies such as Wendy's and McDonald's auditing them for animal welfare, she said. "Customers are putting demands on them," she said. "There are some plants that are not being audited by a lot of customers and they tend to be worse."

The Fort Collins, Colo., resident is a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University. She was honored in Time Magazine's 2010 "The 100 Most Influential People in the World." She also was the focus of a semibiographical HBO film, titled Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes. The movie was released in 2010 and nominated for 15 Emmys, receiving five awards.

Her book Animals in Translation was a New York Times bestseller. Her other books are Thinking in Pictures, Emergence Labeled Autistic, and Animals Make us Human.

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