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Temple Grandin and The Existence of Autistic Mind

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According to Leo Kanner, autistic children often times present as being severely disabled. It might be argued that if we could, we should eradicate conditions like autism because an individual with autism cannot live a fulfilling life or contribute to society. However, Temple Grandin says that, “if I could snap my fingers and be non-autistic, I would not- because then I wouldn’t be me. Autism is a part of who I am”. From an alternative point of view, it might be argued that autism provides an individual with advantages because they are able to think outside of the box, so to speak. An individual with autism has a unique process of thinking and is able to approach ideas with a different perspective than that of an individual that does not have an autistic mind.

Temple Grandin states that, “we’ve got to think about all these different kinds of minds and we’ve got to absolutely work with these kind of minds because we absolutely are going to need these kind of people in the future.” From this perspective, one really must ask themselves, what are we missing out on as a society by not embracing and growing the autistic mind or any uncommon mind for that matter. I think that even if we could eliminate autism we should not do so. As a society we do no ask ourselves if we should eliminate the “normal” mind so why should we ask such a question in regards to autism. I understand that there are different spectrums of autism, there being high functioning and very low functioning. The low functioning end of the spectrum can present many challenges not only to the individual but to the support system around that individual whether it is parents, siblings, caregivers or friends, but that does not give enough reason to consider eliminating the autistic mind. I view these autistic individuals as incredibly special beings that can contribute to their communities and beyond in a way that a typical individual cannot. Each autistic mind needs to be worked with, catered to in the way that their mind understands.

In the film, Temple Grandin, her mother did not listen when she was advised by the doctor to institutionalize her daughter after being diagnosed with autism; instead she tried everything she could to learn what worked for Temple. Her mother’s persistence paid off and taught Temple to understand her own mind. Temple grew up to be an inventor of a system that was a game changer for the cattle industry. The system she created is something that may have never been discovered had it not been for an autistic mind like Temples. Temple states in one of her speeches that, “in my work with cattle I noticed a lot of little things that most people don’t notice would make the cattle balk…in the early ‘70’s when I started, I got right down in the chutes to see what cattle were seeing. People thought that was crazy.” Her unique mind allowed her to see things differently and view situations from a different perspective, from the cattle’s perspective in this case. This proved that the autistic mind does not need to be institutionalized; it does not need to be thrown away and deemed useless. It needs to be embraced and encouraged. I also support the autistic mind and its presence in our world because I believe it to be part of the natural plan, Gods plan if you will. I don’t view it as a detrimental or terminal presence and do not see a reason for it to be eradicated.

Challenge does not suffice for reason to eliminate. I grasp that individuals with autism may certainly face more difficult challenges on top of the everyday, growing pain type of challenges we all face, but this is not fatal and for that reason I do not feel a need to have autism eliminated from our natural world. Though I concede that those individuals with autism may not always have an opportunity to live a “normal” life, I still maintain that autism remain present and embraced by others. One individual with autism may be born very low functioning and may require support and assistance throughout their entire life while another individual with autism may live a very high functioning life and though some may object to the fact that both spectrums of autism are important contributions to the world, I would simply reply that they are incorrect and perhaps the “normal” mind is more problematic than the autistic mind. This is an important issue because we need to learn to become a more accepting, open-minded world that embraces the unique kinds of minds rather than question the possibility of eliminating them.

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