Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends

Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends

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Temple Grandin is the most famous person with autism in the world. Whether you know her from the HBO movie Temple Grandin, her decades of work in the meat and cattle industry, or her unmatched contribution to the autism world, surely you know a thing or two about Temple. Well, prepare to meet a whole new side of her! Temple’s close friend and author, Anita Lesko, conducts personal and unique interviews that include chapters such as:

  • Filming of the HBO Movie Temple Grandin
  • Crazy Funny Stuff&Childhood Memories
  • Thrilling Events in Temple’s Life!
  • Work Hard to Succeed
  • Temple’s Big Message
  • And so much more!

In these pages, witness the moments that made her laugh (and cry!), meet those closest to her, and even take a glimpse into her seventieth birthday party! Discover Temple’s “big message” and her ideas about what makes the biggest difference for children with autism. Lesko has created a truly personal, unique look into the mind and life of Temple Grandin. This is a story you don’t want to miss!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941765821
Publisher: Future Horizons, Inc.
Publication date: 04/02/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 947,499
File size: 842 KB

About the Author

Anita Lesko is an internationally recognized autism advocate and member of Autism Society of America’s Panel of Autistic Advisors. She was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of fifty. She graduated from Columbia University in New York City with a master of science degree in Nurse Anesthesia in 1988, and has been working full-time ever since as an anesthetist, specializing in anesthesia for neurosurgery. Anita is honored to have been a speaker at the United Nations Headquarters for World Autism Awareness Day 2017. Her husband, Abraham, also has autism. They opened their wedding to the public to show that individuals with autism have a need for love, relationships, and marriage just like everyone else. The event attracted international media attention, including Peopleand Good Morning America. She is a contributing author for numerous publications including the Autism Asperger’s Digest and The Mighty. She is a blogger for the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. Anita’s first book, Asperger’s Syndrome: When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade, a memoir, was written immediately after she was diagnosed. She co-authored her second book, Been There. Done That. Try This! The Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth, with Dr. Tony Attwood and Craig Evans.

Temple Grandin is an international lecturer on autism, a best-selling and award-winning author, an autism activist, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and an engineer. She also created the "hug box," a device designed to calm those on the autism spectrum. The subject of an award-winning, 2010 biographical film, Temple Grandin was also listed in the TIME 100 List of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Dr. Grandin is one of the most respected individuals with high-functioning autism in the world. She presents at conferences nationwide, helping thousands of parents and professionals understand how to help individuals with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). She is the author of Emergence: Labeled Autistic, Thinking in Pictures, Animals in Translation, The Autistic Brain, and The Loving Push. One of the most celebrated -- and effective -- animal advocates on the planet, Dr. Grandin revolutionized animal movement systems and spearheaded reform of the quality of life for the world's agricultural animals. She earned her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois, and is a professor at Colorado State University. She lives in Colorado.

Read an Excerpt


Filming of the HBO movie Temple Grandin

Lights! Camera! Action!

On February 6, 2010 the HBO movie Temple Grandin made its debut to the whole world. From that moment, Dr. Temple Grandin went from being well-known to a global phenomenon. It was not just the autism world and the meat industry any more, everyone was taken by Temple's fascinating life. The movie, directed by Mick Jackson (multiple award-winning British film director and television producer), made a historic impact for autism that changed millions of lives. It shows that through mentoring and sheer will, Temple, a young woman with autism, succeeds against all odds. The Emmy Award-winning movie, starring Claire Danes as Temple Grandin, brought autism into the spotlight. One of the many things it did was give parents a look into the mind of their children with autism, enabling them to finally understand how they experience the world.

Temple's Birthday Bash

Temple invited me to her big birthday celebration on August 29, 2017 to be held at Colorado State University. I was thrilled when I received the invitation, which was sent by Teresa Corey, Temple's liaison. The second I read it, I was on the phone with the recommended hotel. As soon as I made reservations for our room, the next call was to book our flights. Soon, everything was all set for the trip.

Fortunately, I was able to get the necessary time off from my work as an anesthetist to fly out to Fort Collins, Colorado. My husband Abraham, who also has autism, took a brief leave of absence from his job to accompany me on this adventurous journey. Our "daughter," Callie Mae (the cat who lost her legs), would be coming along as well — as she always did on the trips we make.

It was Tuesday, August 29th and there I was at Temple's big birthday bash. I was sitting at a table under a huge tent along with Teresa Corey, Jennifer Gilpin Yacio, and Brad Masella, all from Future Horizons. There was music playing from the seventies, accompanied by an announcement that Temple had requested that genre, and that it was hoped that everyone is enjoying the music. If not, then take it up with Temple! There were huge round tables set up, enough for several hundred people to be seated. Each table was covered in crisp white linen table cloths, adorned by custom crafted centerpieces: handcrafted pine boxes with greenery and yellow marigolds in them, branded on the outside with "CSU" for Colorado State University and "TG" for Temple Grandin. It was announced that the branding of the boxes was performed in a humane fashion, which garnered much laughter from the lively crowd. There was a long table set up through the middle of the tent, which would hold the delicious food soon to be set up. The entire venue was set on the luxurious lawn directly in front of the Animal Sciences building on the CSU campus. That building is home to Temple's office, where everyone knows her and she has spent many years of her life.

I was sipping on my ice water when Teresa leaned against my shoulder, whispering as she motioned with her head, "There's Mick Jackson, the guy who directed Temple's movie." I slowly turned around to see who she was motioning at. "The man with the white hat," Teresa stated. Yes, there he was, sporting his white hat. Even if Teresa had not said a word, I would have sensed there was something unique about him. Indeed, there was, as I'd soon find out. Nudging me, Teresa then prompted, "Why don't you go over to him? Tell him you're Temple's friend, that you are writing a book about her, and you'd like to interview him!" Without batting an eye, I was getting up from my seat and making my way through the crowd to get to him.

There happened to be an empty seat right next to Mick, so I boldly sat down. He was talking to someone when I first arrived. Once done he turned to me, sensing I'd come there seeking his attention. He smiled warmly at me, giving me a calm feeling. I repeated Teresa's words, "Hi! I'm a friend of Temple, and I'm writing a book about her! I'd like to interview you at a later time." I held my breath for a moment, wondering what his reply would be. Smiling, Mick quickly responded, "Why, yes of course. I'd be happy to talk with you!" He reached for a napkin, pulled a pen out of his pocket, and wrote his name and number on it. Smiling, he nodded his head toward the napkin and commented, "I used a lot of napkins to draw out scenes for the cast and crew while working on Temple's movie." He completed writing his information on the napkin, then handed it to me. I very carefully folded it, placing it deeply in my shirt pocket and fastening the snap to ensure I wouldn't lose that precious data. I was quite beside myself that I'd get to include the director of Temple's world-famous movie in my book!

Mick leaned towards me and prompted, "So, tell me about yourself." I proceeded, "I also have autism, diagnosed at age fifty." I went on to tell him that I've been a nurse anesthetist for the past thirty years, and that I have a new book coming out about autism and health care. I then thanked Mick for his number, to which he responded, "I'm looking forward to hearing from you!" I got up from my seat and returned to my table, collapsing in the chair next to Teresa and gushing, "I'm so excited! Mick just gave me his phone number and said he's looking forward to hearing from me." Teresa replied, "Wow! That's great! See, aren't you glad you went over to him?" Indeed, I was.

Several days later, once back home, I figured I'd wait yet a few more days before calling Mick for his interview. I wanted to be sure he was back home and rested. Finally, the day came that I decided to call him. Tape recorder all set and rolling, I dialed the number he had neatly written on the napkin. After several rings he answered, quickly remembering who I was.

The first question I asked him was, "What was your first impression of Temple when you finally met her?" Mick began, "I knew exactly what to expect because I'd already read her books, and things written about her by Oliver Sacks. Also, the script screenwriter, Christopher Monger, had been to see her and filled me in. I found her to be very open, very charming, and surprisingly witty! I'm not sure how much she intended to be witty ... she's a very lovely person. She could not have been nicer."

Mick continued, "The more I got to know her, the more I thought she would have made a good director, because of her amazing powers of observation. That's what directing is all about. She has that amazing ability to see things that others don't see. I love that story she told during her birthday celebration about being the only one who saw the eclipse coming through the leaves on the tree onto the sidewalk, as if there were a thousand pinhole cameras showing the eclipse. A director would have seen something like that. And actually, I hadn't even realized it until we had finished the film — and I had worked a lot with her on it, as she occasionally came to the set to observe what was going on."

I was intently listening to Mick's every word. "One time, she came to the set of what was meant to be her dorm room. I had no idea what it had actually looked like, aside from what she had told me and what I read in her books. We had the stage set up to reflect how I thought it would have looked. I said, 'Temple, I know this is not what your room actually looked like,' to which she responded, 'No, but it could have been.'" Mick continued, "I thought this was remarkably sophisticated for her to say, as that's what films do. Others might have said no, it was nothing like that, but instead, she simply looked around and stated, yes, it could easily have been just like that."

Mick continued, "When the film was complete, we invited her to come and watch it in a screening room. All the executives from HBO were there, very much wanting to know what Temple's reaction would be to the film. So finally, at the end of the film when all the credits ran, we were all sitting there, and everybody is sort of trying not to look at Temple, who wasn't saying anything. Obviously, she was processing the film, not realizing that people were expecting her to speak. I was sitting next to her, so I leaned over and said, 'Temple, I think people would like to know what you think of the film.' She blurted out in a loud excited tone, 'I think it's fantastic! I think it's fantastic!'"

It wasn't until a little while later when Mick discovered what the visual thinking portrayed in the movie truly meant. Mick went on, "What I hadn't realized until afterwards, after she shook everyone's hand then left to where she was staying, was ..." He seemed to drift out of this thought, and began to tell it another way. "I was driving home in my car and my phone rang. It was Temple, and she couldn't stop talking about the film. She was going on in all sorts of directions, and it was apparent that she absorbed every detail of the film into her head and she was running it as she was talking to me. I portrayed that in the movie, but in that moment, I realized it was actually true; she was able to amazingly take on a huge amount of information, and just store it in her head. She said it's like a movie running in her head, and she can play it, fast forward, freeze it, everything. That was a shockingly impressive look inside how her mind works."

I could tell throughout the conversation how pleased Mick was with Temple and her input. Mick said, "Temple was really helpful throughout the shooting of the film, especially to Claire Danes. I don't know if you know this, but before the filming began, Claire invited Temple to her and her fiancé's apartment in New York City. Temple spent the whole afternoon there, with a video camera running on her the entire time. Claire's fiancé is also an actor, and has played characters with autism. While he operated the camera, Claire noted the way Temple talked, the way she walked, the way she talked about things that were important to her, and kept the video of all that. Then, every day on the set when we were about to shoot a scene, Claire Danes would go off into a quiet corner and look at the video again to listen to her words and get Temple inside her head. To the people on the set who knew Temple, they were amazed at how Claire acted just like her, as if she channeled Temple through her." I remember Temple telling me how she was astounded the way Claire Danes became her. A bit later, I'll also share what Temple noticed when she walked into Claire's apartment — just reminiscing about it sent Temple into hearty laughter!

Mick seemed genuinely thrilled that Temple gave him a big hug. He shared this, "At the end of the production, when we were about to go back and edit the movie, Temple actually gave Claire and me a hug. I know that it's easier for her to give hugs now, but back then it was very difficult for her to give hugs (which is why she built a squeeze machine). Everyone wanted to hug her at the end of the filming because she was so genuine and open. I think she realized that, and she hugged Claire, then she hugged me. I think that must have taken a great deal of emotional energy to do, but she did it. And that is a hug I shall certainly treasure the rest of my life."

That red squeeze machine from so long ago wasn't needed any longer.

Mick continued, "I think Temple was determined to have everything done just right. When she visited the set, she'd ask many questions and draw lots of pictures on napkins to show what she meant and to be sure we would show it exactly how she wanted it. Take, for example, the automatic gate at her aunt's ranch that she designed and built. We had to construct that gate, an exact replica of it, and know what the principles really were. So, Temple sat down with me while we were having coffee in a café, pulled out a napkin and a pen, drew it in great detail, and explained to me exactly how it worked." I thought back to the evening at Temple's seventieth birthday bash when Mick wrote on that napkin. I could tell he was used to using napkins as a good drawing board.

I was enjoying this immensely, listening to Mick. He went on, "When I was scouting for locations of the movie, I went back to her aunt's ranch where she had gone as a young girl, just to see what it looked like. There were people there, and they had no idea that it was Temple's aunt's ranch. I asked if they'd mind if I just walked around. So, I began walking around the corrals and things, and in the bushes was this red thing that caught my attention. It was the original squeeze chute! It was still there on the ranch. I pulled the branches away from it and found that on the bottom, 'TG Enterprises' was painted where she had signed it like an autograph. The people living there at the ranch had no idea it was still there or what it was. At that moment, we knew exactly what we were going to build for the film." Temple was a bit surprised when I shared with her later that Mick had gone back there, as Mick didn't tell her.

Very sincerely Mick stated, "She was so terribly generous with her time with Claire, Christopher, and me. She had many anecdotes to share, and what they meant to her, so we used them while creating the script. She'd describe all the images coming up in her head, like going to an online search engine, and all the images coming up at once. This was something a film could do, especially with someone like Temple. Not only can you show all the connections she makes between things, but how extraordinarily painful and difficult her life must have been for her. With sensory processing disorders, everything comes at you with double hurricane-force intensity; a pin dropping sounds like someone dropping a steel girder, or somebody coughing sounds the roaring of a lion. Sight, sound, and touch just comes at you with a hypersensitivity, like walking across a battlefield with bombs going off all around you. I don't think people understand that about people with autism, why they shrink from the world because it's so painful for them. When Temple seemed absent from the world, she was really just focused with a laser intensity on watching a cow do something, or watching the way a gate opened or closed." It was very obvious to me that Mick really understood what it's like to have autism and live in this world.

Mick continued with his thoughts about Temple, "I really enjoyed working with her, it was one of the greatest privileges of my life to have done that. It was one of the best films I've ever made because of her. We all loved her. She's a difficult person in some ways, but not by being unkind, and she can't help it, but just because she sees the world differently than others and doesn't react the same ways that others would. To see her in an airport terminal where people are recognizing her, and her reactions to all that attention is simply amazing. Knowing that she started out as this child with autism, and now is a superstar, is just amazing! I was talking to someone on the plane about her, and telling them that she was in Time magazine as one of the one hundred most influential people of this century. That's just astonishing, considering where her story started out."

"Yes, indeed, it is amazing," I agreed.

Mick continued, "That's what I can tell you from my experience with Temple during the filming of the movie, and immediately afterwards. I think she was both flattered and amazed that we were trying to recreate the moments of her life, like when we created the angles of that strange room at her school. Through this window, it appears to people looking in that a person changes in size when moving from one corner to another. It looks like small people become giant people, and giant people become small people as they walk by. We built that full-scale, and that was the first thing that we shot with her, and the first thing that's in the film: Temple walking into that room. We tried to capture the gentleness of her, too, particularly those scenes in the movie where she's with the animals. She puts her hand up to the side of the cattle and feels its beating heart. She has no fear of the horse that's dangerous in the paddock, only concern that the horse is feeling pain and she wants to calm it. The movie shows that individuals with autism can lead normal lives, in fact super normal lives, and can offer guidance to others for certain things, like how to properly treat cattle."

I stated, "Yes, that movie inspired millions of people, especially parents of children with autism, as well as individuals with autism themselves."


Excerpted from "Temple Grandin"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Anita Lesko.
Excerpted by permission of Future Horizons, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword – by Mick Jackson
Chapter 1 – Filming of the HBO Movie, Temple Grandin
Chapter 2 – Temple’s Graduate Students “In Their Own Words”
Chapter 3 – Down by the Seashore
Chapter 4 – Christmas Memories
Chapter 5 – Mother Nature
Chapter 6 – Sports
Chapter 7 – Crazy Funny Stuff!
Chapter 8 – Driving Miss Temple
Chapter 9 – Thrill of a Lifetime!
Chapter 10 – Fear of Flying
Chapter 11 – Learning to Cry
Chapter 12 – Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Chapter 13 – Crazy About Horses
Chapter 14 – High School Days
Chapter 15 – Temple’s Dream Vacation
Chapter 16 – Getting in the Back Door at Colorado State University
Chapter 17 – Rich Girl, Poor Girl
Chapter 18 – The 9/11 Disaster
Chapter 19 – Temple’s Friend Mark
Chapter 20 – On the Job
Chapter 21 – Time at Home
Chapter 22 – The Temple Machine
Chapter 23 – Jim Uhl: A Big Door Opens
Chapter 24 – Being Different: REALLY Different

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Mick Jackson

Mick Jackson, Hollywood Director of the movie "Temple Grandin".

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