Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Temple Grandin

posted by Nell Minow

Claire Danes plays Dr. Temple Grandin in an outstanding new HBO film about the pioneering animal scientist whose autism is a central element of her ability to understand animals and to think visually. Her astonishing and inspiring story first came to public attention in an article by neurologist Oliver Sacks called An Anthropologist On Mars. The title comes from Dr. Grandin’s own description of her sense of bafflement in trying to understand human behavior and communication.


But her understanding of animal behavior transformed the operations of cattle facilities. The movie makes clear that Dr. Grandin faced prejudice not just as an autistic person but as a woman. But her ideas were so compelling that she has become a world-respected authority. And she has been a guide to autism as well, writing and speaking about her experiences as a way of helping neuro-typicals understand those who literally see the world differently.

Temple GrandinTemple Grandin TV Schedule

Dr. Grandin herself can be seen in this interview.


And here she talks to NPR about her squeeze machine. Her mother has also written a book about her experiences, Thorn in My Pocket.


  • James B

    Am I the only person who found the pseudo- Philip Glass musical background really distracting? I enjoyed the biopic, but it also made me start to rethink some of my definitions, and wonder whether the social awkwardness of “band geeks” isn’t to some small degree a low level of something like autism, and whether my own auditory-centered sensorium doesn’t make me more like Temple than I’d thought when I first sat down to see the HBO special.
    Temple’s story and her arrival at a sense of spiritual connection with other living things was truly beautiful. She’s an amazing person.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, James! The music didn’t bother me — I found it consistent with some of the dissonant images. Agree entirely with the rest of your comment!

  • Kevin Bagosy

    My name is Kevin Bagosy and I work for WPSU-TV in University Park, PA. I was viewing your website and I thought you might be interested in something similar to your website. We have a program that might interest you. It’s an interview with Temple Grandin from our program “Conversation from Penn State.” It’s an in-depth conversation that talks about autism and how it has influenced her life. She also talks about her work as a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, in addition to the recent HBO film made about her.
    You can find the interview at this website: and contribute to the conversation as well.
    The website also contains links to speeches and other interviews she’s done, in addition to embed code if you wanted post any of the segments. You can also buy the DVD of the interview from this website. If you decide to post any of the segments, please let us know. Thanks very much, and let me know if you have any questions about our show Conversations or about WPSU.

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