August 28, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Professor and prolific author Temple Grandin, said to be one of the most accomplished and well-known adults with autism in the world, will be the keynote speaker for the President’s Convocation at Illinois Wesleyan on Wednesday, Sept. 10.
The program, free and open to the public, will begin at 11 a.m. in the Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall (1210 Park St., Bloomington). Titled “Decoding the World Through the Unique Perspective of Autism,” Grandin’s address will offer personal insights to further understanding of the autistic community. Grandin will also be available for a faculty-moderated public session at 4 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center (300 E. Beecher St., Bloomington). The session will focus on “Facilitating Employment for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” a central topic for the autism community both locally and nationally.
Illinois Wesleyan first-year students encountered issues related to autism through the 2008 Summer Reading Program selection The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Written by Mark Haddon, the novel’s protagonist is Christopher Boone, a young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Each fall, Illinois Wesleyan’s Summer Reading Program gives incoming students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in a shared intellectual experience.
“People who encounter autism—whether in the pages of a novel, scientific study or real life—usually find those encounters intriguing and challenging, both intellectually and personally,” said Linda Kunce, Illinois Wesleyan professor of psychology and autism awareness advocate. “Further, given current U.S. Centers for Disease Control prevalence estimates of one in 150 for autism spectrum disorders, autism challenges society to continue to improve ways in which diverse people can work together successfully.”
In Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism, winner of the prestigious Foreword Book of the Year Award in 2006, Grandin addresses the social challenges faced by those with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Born in 1947, according to bibliographical information she did not speak until she was three and a half years old. That year, doctors labeled Grandin autistic and encouraged her parents to place her in an institution.
The perception, in the past, had been that once an individual was diagnosed as autistic, there was no hope for that person to have a successful life. However, Grandin is said to have redefined that perception. She published her groundbreaking first book, Emergence: Labeled Autistic in 1986, describing her personal struggle with autism as “groping her way from the far side of darkness.” Since then, Grandin has been featured on major television programs, such as ABC’s Primetime Live, the Today Show, Larry King Live, 48 Hours and 20/20, as well as in national publications, such as Time magazine, People magazine, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and the New York Times. She has also traveled on speaking tours around the world.
Grandin is the author of over 300 articles published in scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare and facility design. Half of the operating livestock handling facilities in North America are of her design.
Currently, Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1970 at Franklin Pierce College and a master’s degree in animal science in 1975 from Arizona State University. In 1989, she earned a Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana -Champaign.
For additional information about Grandin, visit her official Web site at www.templegrandin.com.
Contact: Sherry Wallace, (309) 556-3181