Announcer: But without further ado. Welcome and
welcome to Northern Illinois University I have the absolute honor of introducing
our speaker for the evening Dr. Temple Grandin. Some might know her for her
contributions to animal agriculture and the humane treatment of cattle. Some
might know her as the inspiration for the award-winning HBO film, and some
might know her for her contributions and activism for autism awareness. There is
no shortage for things we might know Temple Grandin’s name from. Tonight, she
will share her insider perspective of her experience with autism. Dr. Grandin
chooses to view her autism as a part of who she is rather than a diagnosis, and
she has worked diligently to enlighten the masses and to create an environment
that supports all kinds of minds. On behalf of the entire Graduate Colloquium committee, I would like to thank the school of Allied Health and
Communicative Disorders and the Graduate School for sponsoring this wonderful
evening, and I would also like to thank the staff and administrators in the Holmes
Student Center and the College of Health and Human Sciences for their support in
advertising and coordinating this event. Without further ado please help me
in welcoming Dr. Temple Grandin. [Applauds] Dr. Grandin: It’s great to be here today. I hope everything’s working okay with the sound. Is everyone okay? Audience: No. Dr. Grandin: There’s something wrong. Bring me that handheld mic. Announcer: I was waiting for you. Dr. Grandin: These things don’t work anyways, I hate them. You can have this. I’ll take this. Okay, Alright, now we’ve got something that works. I should have just insisted on the
handheld because they seem to be more reliable. Okay, let’s just start out, talk
a little about autism. It’s a very very big spectrum. It goes all the way to
someone like Einstein or Tesla to somebody that can’t dress themselves.
Now over at the book table I was little bit disappointed. We didn’t get any engineers
out of the engineering department over here. Because you got lots of guys on the
spectrum over there and I wouldn’t even have a computer here if we didn’t have
people on the spectrum. You see a little bit of autism, a little less
social and you got geek circuits to make computers. Also, they do stuff with art,
then you can get much more severe autism and their nonverbal, and some nonverbal
people can actually learn to type. Then you’ve got some that it’s very very
severe. It’s all got the same label. It’s not precise. For me, being a
college professor comes first, and all my work with cattle. Autism is an important
part of who I am, and I wouldn’t want to change because I can’t stand the
electrical way that most people are. It’s just a terrible. I want to
see kids get out and be successful. I’ve made it a point in my talks to go back
and forth between the silos, like last night they did a fabulous on FFA talk of about
600 FFA students, you need to make sure you keep FFA. You keep it. [Applauds] I’ve worked on every one of the major meat companies, and I worked with a lot of
welding people and skilled millwright people that were dyslexic, ADHD, maybe
mildly autistic, saved by that welding class. A lot of people stick
their nose up at skilled trades. Those jobs are
going to be here in the future and they’re not getting replaced by AI. I am
watching the job market really carefully. What do i do on planes? I read. In every
business magazine there is, I read. Now I’ll be telling you a little bit more
about AI later. I was a terrible student, and I get asked all the time, how
did I get motivated. I got motivated when studying became the way to a goal of
becoming a scientist. Education needs to be a way to a goal. When I was in
high school my science teacher got me turned around, got me studying. I
also have to admit that I got kicked out of ninth grade for fighting, and I used
a book as a weapon. A social studies book, a really big one.
Man, I chucked it across the music room and beamed it at her head because she
called me a retard, and I was kicked out of ninth grade for that out of a regular
high school. I ended up going to a special school for kids with problems,
boarding school, and for the first three years I ran there horse barn. I didn’t do
any studying but I had to go to classes. I wasn’t allowed to become a recluse in my
room, but you know what I learned running that horse barn? I learned how to work.
One of the biggest problems I am finding a lot of students they get
the academics done, and then they end up in the basement playing video games
because they haven’t learned how to work. I’m seeing two trajectories with smart
fully verbal kids, the ones that get two summer jobs under that belt, volunteer
jobs starting at age 11, learn how to work do great, and the ones that are not
learning how to work ending up in the basement playing video games. Another
thing I’m finding is I’m finding all these granddads and older parents
coming up to me that find out they were on the spectrum when their kids get
diagnosed, and they were in decent jobs. Now, I think sometimes the spectrum
that holds you back on a job where it’s helpful is on relationships. That is
where it’s helpful. Then you understand why you don’t kind of do very well
socially. You see, now studying was a path to a goal. That was Mr. Carlock, my
science teacher, but he actually came a little bit later on in my high school
career, and he gave me interesting projects to do. Now studying had became
a way to becoming a scientist. I get asked all the time how I’d end up the
candle industry. I was exposed to cattle when I was a teenager. Now, I noticed here,
at some of the schools I’ve gone to, you got theatre here and you got music, one of
worst thing schools have done, has been taking out all the hands-on classes:
cooking, sewing, woodworking, art, auto shop, there’s lots of jobs there,
welding. All of those hands-on things. Because these hands-on things also teach
practical problem-solving. Yes, I already, just talked to a dad
tonight, found out that he was on the spectrum in a successful good career.
What would happen to solve our top innovators in today’s educational system?
Many top innovators at an unconventional educational path, if they’ve been born
today would they be in the basement playing video games? Jane Goodall had a
two-year associate’s degree in secretarial science when she did her
famous study. That’s all her parents could afford to do, get a secretarial
degree. She got hired to be a secretary. Well once he got out there where those
chimpanzees the rest was history. How about Thomas Edison, he was labeled an
addled hyperactive high school dropout. How about Tesla, the inventor of the
power plant. Another one would be Edison. Edison was really, he was weird,
and then Steven Spielberg. He was a lousy student. You know, ‘C’ as in Charlie,
rejected from a top film school. Every time I go behind the FedEx truck, and I am following the ‘C’ term paper, got a ‘C’ in Business School for the FedEx
concept. I was bullied in school. A lot of these other people were bullied in
school. Steve Jobs was bullied in school. Another person that’s really interesting,
Elon Musk, bullied in school. Well now he’s doing SpaceX, they’re hiring right now. I wonder how many people are on the spectrum
down there. I’ll tell you what they’ll like for jobs. They don’t like single
minded majors. They like computer science, electrical engineering, and mechanical
all mixed together, maybe put a dash of physics in there too. They like these
majors where it’s not so narrow. I had a couple of students come up to me today,
they want to be elementary school teachers. They really liked English. I said
why don’t you take a English literature survey course, so you know some things
about Shakespeare that you can tell your students that makes it
interesting. A lot of majors get way way way too narrow. Education is one of them.
Let’s take some other classes, biology, history, literature
classes, and not get into such narrowness. Some of these humanities majors, way too narrow.
No, we got to get out of the silos. I don’t know, we should have done more
communication with the engineering department. I like cool stuff. I like space stuff. There’s the dragon spaceship docking
with the space station. You know what its real name is? Puff the Magic Dragon. You
know that’s not very professional to call it that. I had a chance to go
down to a Cape Kennedy. The disabilities people wanted me down
there, and I was kind of annoyed that they had just put in the disability part
and not anything about all the all the design work I had done. Work I had done
with cattle. Well, I managed to get the total geek out tour. In the Vehicle
Assembly Building, on top of the Vehicle Assembly Building, got to watch a SpaceX
launch. I can tell you that’s very different than watching it on TV. I
found out that there was a lot of labels there. How about Mr. Tourette’s building
a Mars launching platform. So what would you rather be? Be defined by Tourette’s
or Mars launch platform? As I walked under the American flag and a big thing
that said the future that starts here, yeah cool. Another guy, rotten student,
dyslexic, top of the SATs in math. Since he’s not declared publicly I can’t say
what he does, but he designs extremely important stuff
there. This is what bothers me. I don’t want to see a label holding back
your career. That’s something I don’t want to see. Mr. Tourette’s, he
does these eye twitches. I know lots of people that have Tourette’s. You get rid of
the tics, you turn them into eye twitches. You can’t get rid of the tics totally,
but the verbal tics, verbal tics got to go. Turn them into eye twitches. There I
am in the Mission Control at Houston. I have to say I really am a NASA geek. When
I was a kid I worshiped the astronauts. But one of the things I learned when I
went and visited this stuff, that when we went to the moon, one of the finest things
we ever did, we did it with real primitive stuff. I’ll tell you a little
secret about the moon spacesuit. There’s a great book about it. It was made by
Playtex. I am not kidding. The finest bras seamstresses sewed it. The other guys
wanted a hard suit but it’s too heavy to put in the limb. Yeah, they had to
rename Playtex subsidiary some fancy engineering name. Now the later suits, no,
they’re hard, the torso part is hard, but the moon suit was
hand-sewn. You don’t realize high low tech some of this stuff is, and
the thing is the whole country got behind it. I stood in front of the
Vehicle Assembly Building and I just started crying. I’m going, why was it
so special what we did here, we built the Saturn 5 here. We did something really
hard, not because it was easy but because it was hard. I really love Kennedy’s
speech about that. Everyone worked together and we did it. The thing is,
you know what I thought of? The right stuff rolled the rocket, but the geeks
and the misfits and the kids that were different built by stuff. [Applauds] Well there’s the Space Station mock-up
in Houston. There’s all the part and pieces in a warehouse, but I managed to
photograph it so it looked like it was all together because it’s much cooler, and it
really looks like it’s actually up in space. What are some common
denominators of unique minds? Growing up with lots of books. Books were a very
important part of our household. Mother read to us as little kids. I had trouble
with learning how to read, and Mother taught me with phonics. Another kid may
learn by whole word. Don’t get hung up on just single minded things. If you’re
working with little kids, slow down when you talk to them.
Enunciate your words. You also have to give the kid time to respond. They’re like a
slow computer. They’re like a phone on one bar. You’ve got to give their brain
time to load that webpage. That’s what you got to do. Give them time to respond,
and always encourage them to use their words. Little kids have to be taught
turn-taking. That was really pounded into me. You’ve
got to take turns. Then there’s sensory issues. Sometimes a sound that
bothers a kid is better tolerated if the kid can control it. One mom said her kid
was terrified of the vacuum cleaner so she let him play with the vacuum cleaner,
and since he could control it he got to be able to tolerate it better. Make
it so the kid can control the sound. A lot of these individuals, early
exposure to career interests, hands-on, learn to work, not over specialized, and
they had mentors. I had some very good mentors, and I recommend that any
student get out there and do career related internships. Make sure OT or
counseling, whatever it is, is the career you really want to be in. Arts
foster scientific success. A Nobel Prize winner in science was 50% more likely to
have an arts-and-crafts hobby compared to another scientist. Painting,
musician, actor. Now let’s talk about cross discipline. There’s a wonderful
lady out in Colorado and her name is Camille King, and she noticed in her dog
behavior business that sometimes the dogs would turned gray prematurely. There’s a statistician here and, I’m terrible at
names, his first name is Tom, we got to make sure Tom gets credit he’s here at
this university. He was a statistician on this paper. I’m terrible about names
because I don’t visualize them and he was a statistician, she was the
behaviorist, and I worked on developing the assessment tool for gray dog snouts.
Some of these dogs, home alone tear the house down,
scratching everything up, jumping very impulsive, but turning gray prematurely.
Camille, really hard worker, but you see you need different kinds of minds
working on things. In Northern Illinois University was involved in it.
We need to be keeping these classes. Theater, I was very pleased to see
that the high school had a stage equipped with some theater equipment.
Theater is a great career. It’s not going to go away. People are still going to
want theater, they’re going to want live music. These are things that in the
future artificial intelligence is not going to replace. There’s other careers
it will replace. Bullied in school, but Steve Jobs had calligraphy for his hobby.
Einstein, no speech until age three, and he played the violin. A lot of kids are
getting labels and I’m getting worried about him getting screened out. I was
reading an article on education the other day, and somebody said we need to
be looking at what’s a kid doing ten years after high school. Well the first
thing I want to do is get them to learn how to work before they graduate. I want to
get rid of transition after high school. Learn how to work before you’re graduates.
One of the things I want to do, but I want to get them out in a career they’re
going to like. There’s certain things I don’t want to see happen. Really bad things, but then I want to have them go out and get a lot higher
than that. I worked for years in a construction industry, and I’ll be talking
about that on my cattle things. Construction is all about outcomes, about
finishing a job, making a job work. I’m finding what the autistic kids we’re
doing a good job at were little ones. Where we’re falling down is on the
teenagers, that’s where we’re tend to be falling down. Dyslexics, a lot of dyslexics,
if they get a chance to go into business, they do just great. Jet Blue the founder
had ADHD. I went on Jet Blue the other day, even in
the back of the plane you still had leg room. I couldn’t believe it.
I had economy United Economy Plus in the back of the plane, and I didn’t have
somebody else’s seat jamming threw me. Then the guy IKEA, ADHD and dyslexia.
Business is something where there’s no academic barrier of entry but
you’re going to have to learn how to read and write decently. That’s something
you’re gonna have to do. This is the head of Goldman Sachs, horrible dyslexic
student and one of the things he said is, “Knowing where you want to end up is
easier than figuring out where to start.” What is the goal? I’ve really been
thinking about that, and I had a lady telling me about how she was very severe
anorexic when she was in college. She was darn near dead, and she
showed me pictures of herself on her phone. You know what got her over it? She
wanted a dream job that she was offered because they like to resume. She got over it
because now there was a reason to get over it. A lot of creative people do
not go on a conventional educational path, they also don’t over specialize. I’m
seeing some humanities majors out there, this over specialize it’s ridiculous.
Pure mathematician, nobody wants that. You want to take stuff that people want. The
other thing is, job boards. You know easy it was to find out where the SpaceX jobs
were? I typed SpaceX jobs into Google. Then, coming out here from the airport
went by some great big white factory with a weird name on it like Paden, I don’t remember the name, type the name and they make all these fasteners
for cables and wiring up buildings for computers, and they’re hiring. You know
you don’t even bother look things up on the phone. The other thing we got to
be doing is finding back doors. I’ll be talking more later about learning how to sell
my work. This is a super important slide. I am a photo realistic visual thinker.
Everything I think about is a picture. That’s why I don’t remember some of the
names. I actually see the big white factory. I can see the sign on the corner
of the building, and I can’t remember what it say,s it’s frustrating. Because
the name then remind me of anything to do with a picture.
Couldn’t do algebra. I’m worried that all this emphasis on algebra is screening
a lot of students out. Why can’t they take geometry instead? How did I
manage to on get school without algebra? I got out of it, and it was pure luck. In
’66 and ’67 when I went to college the educational fad of the time was finite
math, probability and statistics. That was what we did. That saved me. Another
kind of mind is the pattern thinker. This is your mathematician. They think in
patterns, think organic chemistry, think computer programming, and often these
kids have trouble with reading, but we need both kinds of minds. Visual thinkers
need to be designing safety systems because Fukushima nuclear power plant
disaster was the most colossal visual thinking mistake you could ever have.
It’s not a very good idea when you live next to the sea to put a super important
emergency cooling pump with an electric motor in a non waterproof basement. I am
not kidding, it just doesn’t work very well. Absolute disaster. Then you have the kid
who’s the verbal fax guy who knows history. They’d be good at retail sales,
they’d also might be a good history teacher. You have a third grader
who’s good at math, then let him do college math if they can do it. You have a
kid that’s good at art, have them do art. You want to take the thing they’re
fixated on and broaden it out. Don’t let him do it so fixated. When I was in third
grade I wanted to draw horse heads all the time.
Mother got me drawing a whole lot of other things. Another little tip I want
to give you, but the problem is I have no working memory.
I cannot remember sequences of information. If a kid has to do a task,
like take apart an ice-cream machine, clean it, put it back together again,
pilot’s checklist, step one, step two, step three, just a little bullet points. You
don’t have to write out the whole directions. You just give them bullet points
to jog the memory. That gets around the working memory problem. Really super
simple to do. Then you don’t have the employer
going, “I already showed him how to fix a machine five times. Is he stupid?” You
give them a pilot’s checklist. Thomas Edison just said, “I’m not a
mathematician but I can also always hire mathematicians but they can’t hire me.”
Then when I booked the autistic brain, I talk about different ways that people
think. There’s science behind that. You want evidence-based, there is some
evidence based on this. While I’m talking about evidence-based, some people find if you go and adjust the colored background on the
computer, the print will stop shaking. Some of these
kids, they see the print shaking, try lavender, try light blue. Try printing the
homework on different colored papers. Somebody might say to me that’s not
evidence-based, and I go if it’s cheap totally safe, and takes me 15 minutes to
try it, I’m going try a lot of different things.
If something’s expensive, dangerous, and takes six months to even try it,
then I got to have a lot of evidence-based. I’m talking about colored
paper. I know several students where tan paper or lavender paper in the printer
saved their college career. I’m worried that our visual thinkers are getting
screened out with some of the strict algebra requirements. I think it’s just
ridiculous. Let them take geometry. I’m not suggesting no math, I’m not
suggesting that, but I think there’s some pattern thinkers I think you got to have
algebra in order to think. It didn’t make any sense to me. There’s no pictures. we
need visual thinkers in science. One of the big problems we’ve got in science
right now is problems of reproducing scientific experiments, and it has to do
with how the methods are described. This brings up another thing I
have when we’re trying to figure out problems with kids, people over
generalize. A detail such as whether you vigorously stirred cancer cells or you
just gently kind of rocked them can change the results of a cancer study.
When people are trying to figure out what to do with the kid they over
generalize. They go, “What do I do with an autistic kid?” I don’t know. How old
is he? can he read? What’s his problem? I don’t know enough
about him, and I see the same thing in dog behavior problems. They’ll go, “What do
I do about crazy dog?” Well I don’t know. Is he crazy nasty? Crazy happy? I don’t
know what he’s doing. I don’t know what this dog is doing. When you think
in words you tend over generalize. You think
censoring, then you don’t over generalize. Because I’m seeing very specific
things, and I always have to get people to ask more questions. There’s different
ways to teach math. Try different ways. Try what works. There are some really
great little origami things that kids have made. When you ask me to think
about a church steeple, I see specific ones. My concept of what a church
steeple is, is made out of specific examples. Pictures of specific examples.
If I see lots and lots of different churches,
I can categorize them. New England type, cathedrals, famous cathedrals, but when I
asked a speech therapist about this she just saw a pointy thing. Just a very
vague pointy thing. Then when you ask the mathematician he saw motion of
people singing and praying. Getting back to the iPhone, Steve Jobs was an artist.
That’s why your phone is easy to use. What I’ve done with a lot of my cattle
work is the field of industrial design, the artists side of engineering. Then the
engineers had to make the phone work. You need to have both kinds of thinkers
because the engineers get the phones so complicated nobody can figure out how to
work it. I just got the new iPhone six, love the
camera I love the camera two pieces. I couldn’t believe the SpaceX launch
pictures I got, but it does stupid things, like giving me last week’s messages. I
don’t know why it does that. The other iPhone six I had never did that. Then
of course they’ve designed a USB port to break in two years. I’ve had that happen
on two phones, and I’ve been careful with it.
I put a super-strong contractor case on it so it can take some diggers
without breaking. You get too over specialized. You’re not going to do
good. You need to not be over specialized. A top researcher in plant science told
me that some of his highly specialized graduate students, they have no creativity.
I love this, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, “A degree is the first step down
a ruinous highway. You don’t want to waste it so you go into doctoral
research. You end up being a thorough ignoramus on everything in
the world except for one subdivisional sliver of nothing.” [Applauds and laughter] In education, maybe
some educators ought to take an engineering class. Take something
you know where you’ve got something other than educational theory to pass on
to your kids. Education is very very top-down and theoretical. They’ll talk
about where do we do about an inclusive classroom, well I don’t know. The
way I’m going to tackle that problem is one specific example at a time. This
kid was successful, this kid wasn’t successful. What what can you do
to you know accommodate different kids? I’m thinking back to my own elementary
school. We had a girl that had a heart condition and she couldn’t run, so he
made her goalie in soccer. That’s an example of a successful inclusive
classroom, but sometimes it’s thought about way too top-down, way too theoretical.
People vaguely say, “What do you do about society discriminates this
and that?” I think it’s just like my business and livestock handling, I
started designing one project at a time. Then you get word of mouth, you
design another project, then I wrote about it. Specifically, how this project
worked on that foreign, again specific examples forming concepts. Artificial
intelligence I just found out a year ago works exactly like how my mind works.
That’s why I get along with search engines really well, because after all
they were made by the autistic brain. Where artificial intelligence really
works is on highly specialized tasks. I wouldn’t spend eight years
going to school to study radiology, oncology, or endocrinology. Those medical
specialties will get replaced with a computer. Right there, that iPhone can
diagnose skin cancer. How do you teach the phone? You teach it by giving it
specific examples two thousand pictures of melanomas, verified melanomas. Two thousand
pictures of my ugly age spots, mosquito bites, and rashes. Then from that it can look at
a new picture and it can categorize. Bottom-up thinking is the same way that
I think. That’s why you got to get these kids out doing things. I’m seeing too
many parents that overprotect. Where the kid hasn’t even learned shopping. Now on
the other hand we don’t throw them in the deep end of the pool, you’ve got to
stretch these kids just outside the comfort zone. I’ll tell you something that
doesn’t work, we take an 18 year-old girl really anxious never had a job, and we shove
her in a busy clothing store at Christmas rush. That we don’t do. We put
them in the clothing store not during the Christmas rush. You don’t chuck them
in the deep end of the pool. You gradually got to get them into things.
I’m seeing parents that can’t let go, and almost being a special ed mom has become
part of their identity. I had one mom cry when I suggested that her 13 year old
who had never shopped should buy some printer paper, that’s all I suggested
that he should do. Ultimate bottom-up banking. This is a company in Boston,
“We’re not making any hypotheses upfront, we’re using the patient derive data to
generate the hypothesis.” That’s bottom-up. Education is super
top-down, super super verbal. I don’t know, some of the stuff I don’t know. I’ve
looked at some of the ED course stuff. I’d rather just have you take the minimum
amount of ED classes and fill up your majors with a good stuff like Theater,
English literature, maybe some sciences, some computer
programming, so you’ve got substance to pass on to these students. Yes, there’s
some classes you need to have, but I’m not very big on too much theory stuff
because you know what, half of the time it’s wrong.
I will never forget when I was in college in the late 60s the teaching
machine fad, man it was just ridiculous. Those were the worst books. Look that
stuff up, it was just garbage. That was the rage when I was in college. Visual
thinkers, AI, some people with autism, ADHD, or dyslexia all bottom-up thinkers.
The thing about bottom-up thinking is it takes a huge amount of data. They had to
train that program with 2,000 melanomas not 200, 2000. This is the way my mind is.
People said to me my talks are better at 50 than they were at done age 40.
As you fill up the database, that’s why you’ve got the kids get them out doing
things. Concepts are formed with specific examples. Then you can start sorting,
for example dogs, you can sort them in by size, I could sort them by color, I
could sort them by kind of their disposition. There’s a lot of different
things I can sort dogs. Also, I’m a sensory based learner, not word based.
This really helped me in my work with animal behavior. My very first work
that I did, I was really interested in optical illusions. Here’s an example
where as a psych major originally, started in optical illusions, and when I
switched over to cattle it seemed obvious to me to look at what the cattle
were saying, and other people didn’t notice that in the 70s. I tend
to see things other people don’t see, like we had a 95 percent eclipse at
Colorado State University. Here are clips shadows, I didn’t know eclipses made
these weird shadows, but I noticed these shadows, and I watched 50 other students
walk over them. The other thing that horrified me was only about 20 percent of the students
were interested. I think that’s a real shame. Our school gave out 30,000 pairs
of glasses. They managed to spell science wrong on them,
but they really wanted to work hard on getting the kids interested in it. We had
about 20 percent that were interested. It happened right when
classes were changing and they were just walking around oblivious, walking right
over this sidewalk, right smack in front of our library in the middle of campus.
I think that’s kind of sad. I think we need to be getting kids back involved with the
real world. I noticed the cattle would balk in a little chain, they
wouldn’t walk through a little chain. Why do I have to keep talking about this?
Because people aren’t taking them out. I give them checklists, coats on fences.
Get those distractions out of your facility. Here’s one where there’s a
reflection on the floor. They’re not afraid of getting slaughtered,
they’re free to the dark, and they’re afraid of seeing stuff up ahead, and you
get rid of that stuff they’ll walk right in. I had a great time in Ireland this
summer. You want something really cool, you get picked up at the Dublin Airport
and then you go to the place where they have the black executive helicopter. Very
impressive. You get in this big fancy helicopter, and we fly over to this beef
plant, we land on its front lawn, and I go in there and their cattle refused to go
up the chute. They’d stop, and I noticed there was holes in the sidewall
and they could see motion through the holes. Six pieces of duct tape later and
it worked. By the way, I found something really weird back here. I found
a whole big bunch of duct tape. I couldn’t believe it, I just had to
get this. The duct tape ball, maybe somebody might like to have that. Big ball of
duct tape. I think it’s pretty funny that, go in there in the
black executive helicopter and all I did was put six pieces of tape on something,
but it fixed it because for the catal it’s all about what they see. Non-slip
flooring is really important for animals. They panic when they slip.
Let’s see how good you are at visual thinking. Raise your hand if you saw
that that animal was looking at the sunbeam. [pause] We’re doing a bit better, but you
know who does the best at this, elementary school children. They do the
best. I get really choked up about things like some of NASA’s exploration
projects. Why do I get so emotional about that?
Because it’s pure going out and observing. Observation is part of science.
You can’t form a hypothesis until you’ve observed, and it really turns me on.
Here’s a guy that turns me on. 81 years old, he’s still Manning Mission Control
for the Voyager spacecraft. It has left the solar system. He’s been kicked out of
NASA mission controllers in a storefront next to the puppy training place and
McDonald’s, but we’re going to find out why we’re a class-m planet that can support
life from Ed Stone. That’s dedication, and the signal is so weak they
got to use three giant radio telescopes. Where are they getting the budget
for that? Well I don’t know. They’re Asperger’s they’re figuring out
some way to get the budget for it. I get really emotional about this, this
urge to explore, to go out and find new knowledge. I mean it just turns me on. I
read about him in the New York Times Magazine and I cried for the whole
entire flight to the point where it was embarrassing. Let’s teach kids
how to work. Walking the neighbor’s dog at age 11, and I had a parent say to me,
“We don’t have a program for that.” I go, “Really?” The reason why I’m asking you, telling
you to set it up to walk the neighbor’s dog is it doesn’t require a program.
Then the parents are going, “We have a dog.” I said, “The point is, I want it be
somebody else’s dog. You’ve got to start doing a task on a schedule outside the
home. Selling cookies, running yard sales. I went to this education meeting,
and it had some workshops I thought were pretty silly, but they had a
little thing of like basic values for the school. Working on health.
I’m very happy the school I went to this morning, they got rid of all the
sugar drinks in the vending machine. That was one of the first things I thought of,
but that’s something specific. I’m not going to get rid of the bake sale, that’s
only twice a year. They’re gonna cook all the stuff, but you see I’m starting to
think specific yard sales, volunteer Church stops, volunteer at a retirement
home, and then get real jobs when you’re 16, and figure out how to get in those
back doors. Short-circuit the interview process.
Here’s my jobs. Mother got me a sewing job at age 13, working for freelance
seamstress. Then when I started my livestock business,
it was freelance. One job at a time. When I went to the special boarding school,
cleaning horse stalls, I ran their horse barn, roofing at age 16, man it was fun.
That’s probably illegal today, man it was fun though/.
Great shingle throwing contest, painting signs and selling them. First sign I ever
painted was for a beauty shop. I had to make a sign a beauty shop would want.
Carpenter work, college internships, I had a rent house to another person, this
stuff was just set up in the neighborhood. I was doing internships
before colleges had internships. Now there’s all kinds of internships, and you
need to be doing them. I did lots of carpentry,
I took an ugly building and I made it nice, you got to learn how to do stuff
other people would want. Here I am painting signs for ridiculous carnival
rides. How did I get that job? I showed a portfolio of my signs to a sign
painter. You learn to sell your work, not yourself.
There’s my sign painting truck. One of the things that often comes up is
driving, and if I hadn’t known how to drive I wouldn’t have been able to do
the cattle business, it’s that simple. It’s going to take longer. In my aunt’s ranch,
it was three miles up to the mailbox, three miles back, that’s 20 minutes every
day, for the whole summer was 200 miles. I did a tank of gas in a safe place
before we did any traffic that’s a 20 minute lesson every day. The brain
doesn’t like marathons. Do a 20 minute lesson every day in back country roads
back places. Then we do drivers ed. Drivers ed chucks them into it way
too quickly. The deal with some of the multitasking issues they’ve got to learn
how to drive that car on autopilot, where that motor skill is learned before we do
any traffic. After I got my license I went for a
year before I did any freeways. You work into it slowly, but we’ve got to do it.
Favorite classes. I already loved my English literature class, experimental
psychology, building things. I had the old-fashioned liberal arts education
when you took to science classes you, took a history class, English class, you
got really exposed to a whole lot of different things. High school
mentors, I had my science teacher, I had Anne out at the ranch, also as a little kid
with a fabulous third grade teacher. She ran the elementary school, and I had very
good early intervention. That I had, but where we’re falling down is with these
older kids. What would happen to me today? No speech when I was little, we’re
doing well on dealing with that. I’d be a prime candidate for video game
addiction, we have got to control the video game playing, it’s one hour a day. I
was allowed to have an hour a day of television, that’s all. We need to be
getting lots of hands-on learning experiences, work experience, and don’t
allow yourself to become your label. The college professor comes first, and I
make sure when autism talks totally take over, no I’m not going to let
them take over. I love talking to the FFA kids. Let me tell you, I found about 10 kids
I’m positive around the spectrum. Probably not diagnosed, but I can tell
just by the way they talk and stuff, probably on them,
autistic. Here’s a scientist’s reaction to taking out hands-on lab classes,
practical experiments teach the reality of science with all its frustrations and
rewards. Things don’t always work. I talked to a lady about six months ago
who ran a horse stable and she had to teach four or five teenagers how to hook
up a garden hose. I am not kidding. Home Depot has a video on how to use a tape
measure, because that was a top search term on their website. You
might know algebra, but I’ve been in the college world teaching college students
how to find the area circle. They didn’t know how to do that.
Like to show off some brain scans because I like to explore inner space
when new equipment becomes available. It’s a lot of fun doing this on the
fanciest new equipment, but you don’t need to do it because the abilities show
up in a classroom. I got a big visual thinking circuit, but my art
ability started showing up around third grade, or the math ability might start
showing up. Big visual thinking circuit there. It’s all written up in my autistic
brain book. You’ve got a little place right here, I don’t know if the
arrow will show up, but on the screen back here or not. It does.
That’s the trashed out working memory that algebra departments wrecked.
I got no working memory, so that’s a place where you got to do a workaround
like what the pilots checklist, but algebra had nothing to visualize. At
least in finite math I could visualize some of the statistical stuff. Meat
industry had no academic barrier to entry. Managed to get out of algebra
class, this is something where you just got to figure out how to do it.
What do you do if you graduate and you don’t have a high school degree? If
your portfolio is good enough, it won’t matter. I just saw a portfolio tonight,
beautiful artwork a girl did. Beautiful professional grade art, but it
was not presented professionally. It was in a little ring-binder book. I said, “You
get those pictures scanned before they get dirty, then you put them on on a
tablet so he’s gonna have a really nice professional thing to present and they
won’t care about whether you know algebra or not. Then you’re going to
have to crank out some art work other people want, and I suggested that she
take a class in how to start a business. Let’s look at the Business School what
they got here. Class and entrepreneurship, how do you start a business, how do you
operate a freelance business. That’s what I do. Because I want her to do
something with that art. How did I get into college with horrible SAT
scores? Mother bashed open the back door of a brand-new little two-year
college, and I had decided to work and thank goodness it was finite math. I came
from an educated family. Our nobility was nurtured. Mother read to us.
My two favorite books in elementary school: famous inventors and this spring
were coming out in the new book called “Calling All Minds” it’s going to
have some of my projects I made as a kid. Bird kites, helicopters, it’s
going to have a lot of stories about famous inventors because I want to get kids on
turned on, and then of course “Black Beauty.” Those two books that are my
favorite books. Early exposure to career interests. That’s another really
important thing. Students get interested in stuff they
get exposed to, it’s that simple. When you’re weird, you got to sell
the client by showing off your work. This is the drawing right here, it’s a little
distorted right here, that I showed to Bill Fielding, the head of Cargill in the
late 80s, and I have designed the stockyards and the concrete work for all
the Cargill plants in North America, for Cargill beef plants. I did it
strictly by showing my portfolio. He got a big fold-out drawing, he got this
brochure, he got a couple of articles and plastic
pages of pictures. One of the mistakes that people make us put too much junk in
the portfolio. What you want is a 30 second’ Wow’
aimed at the client. For example, if I want to sell meat plants I don’t show
them ranch stuff. I’m going to want to sell ranches I show them ranch stuff, and if
I’m gonna sell car ads and bank ads, then I don’t show weird science
fiction art. I can’t believe some of the ads that are appearing with really
important international news. I’m scrolling through really
important international stuff, we got sofas, ladies dresses. Another
thing, I think artificial intelligence needs to do a
better job on that. Here’s an aerial photo of the first dip fact that I ever
designed, and I put it in my portfolio. Show them
this stuff. People thought it was weird, but when I showed them examples of my
work then they kind of go, “Oh you were weird, but you’ve been designing some
good things.” There’s the dip fat system they built
for the movie. There’s starting my career in construction. This really affects
how I think our purpose as educators is to get kids out there
and get them to be successful. When I’ve done a lot of work on animal
welfare requirements, well the first thing I tell all the animal welfare
people in supply chain management, you got a you can’t get away from this.
Don’t be don’t be doing stuff that you want shown on the phone, nasty things.
That’s the first thing. You’ve got to just prevent the bad stuff. Then I’ve
developed very simple scoring systems for meat plants, where I’m measuring how
they perform rather than telling them how to build
stuff. When I was young I used to think I could fix everything with
engineering if I could just build the perfect equipment. It doesn’t
work that way. The same mistakes have been made in schools.
Get the perfect computers in the school, perfect this and that it’s going to
fix the schools. It didn’t. Some of the educators I talked to Monday were a
little bit surprised when I said, “What would I rather have, would I rather have
adequate equipment with superb teaching, or have state-of-the-art with maybe
poor or not so good teaching? I’ll take the adequate with superb teaching.
That’s what I would take. [Applauds] There’s few things we got to have, really hot
classrooms, been there done that, no. That’s not adequate because
you’re so hot you can’t stand it. There’s one of my systems built in
the plant just completed this summer, and I just like to show that to the people
that think college is great, but a lot of this wasn’t built with a
college degree. You’re talking about some complicated stuff here. Stupid people
don’t do this kind of metal work. These jobs, not going to go away. There’s a
drawing of my dip far system. I always like to show my drawings off,
and I noticed an interesting thing when the industry went from hand drawing to
computers. We sometimes would get a drawing done by a kid who had the
two-year course who would never built anything and never worked with his hands,
and they made weird mistakes on drawings because they weren’t seeing them. and The
people that had built things and drew by hand drew good drawings. Then I go out and
visited Pixar, and they told me that sometimes they got to get him off the
computers in order to get them to draw right. Then I went over to another
animation company and they were printing out, with the 3d printer, the different
cartoon characters, and then putting them on the mouse-pad where they could touch
them. There’s the cattle coming up the lead up. Also put in these kinds
of pictures just to show them. Really cool looking stuff, 30 second ‘Wow.’
I think what we want to do right now, hopefully they’ve got a mic that
they can pass around. I’ve got to make sure to push this lectern off the stage. It does have a little thing there
to prevent it, see somebody put a little thing there, little angle iron because I
think that happened before. I’ll take a question from somebody just up
here in the front and I’ll repeat it. Right there. The question is, ‘what do I think
of higher educational systems teaching general education courses?’ That’s vague. I
don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m sorry.
What do you mean by that? Audience member: Spending your first year of college, taking your maths, your literature? Dr. Temple Grandin: I think a teacher is going to
have to have some foundation stuff. Audience member:Yes, but we’re taking this in high school, and I think we’re the only country who does that. Dr. Temple Grandin: Does what now? Audience member: Teaches general education in higher education systems. Dr. Grandin: When you say in higher education
that means teaching like basic mathematics. Sometimes you’re rehashing
the same math class. That’s not a smart thing to do. Like chemistry
class may be very similar to the chemistry class you had in high school,
that’s actually kind of stupid waste of time. Because sometimes
it’s the same class, but then once you get through the general ed
stuff then some of the stuff for education, and some majors, gets really
narrow. If SpaceX needs people who can do
mathematics, but they have no use for pure mathematician. You want the
math in there, but they want the engineering and mixed up with the
computer science and electrical mechanical all mixed together. That’s
what they need. Audience member: I’ve had that too. Sorry. I’ve actually had that problem too. In my high school
I found that I was taking good classes, but then I go
into college and unfortunately they’re teaching me the same things I learned in high school. Dr. Grandin: That’s just stupid. There’s certain classes where you could test out, especially in something like chemistry.
I have a class in livestock handling and we’re not going to let them
test out of that because that’s got totally new material.
Something like a math class, or a chemistry class you already know it take
the same class again is kind of dumb. Audience member: That’s what happened with
English and Spanish. They taught me the same things I learned and they were in
an Honors English class. They were teaching how to write an email. I
knew how to do a professional bullet email. Dr. Grandin: Unfortunately, there are some kids that need
to be taught how to write an email. One of the problems that I’ve
run into because I teach, is there are some college students and
their writing skills are absolutely atrocious because nobody ever copy
edited their work. There’s some students that are going to learn with
diagramming sentences, that did not work for me. Other students that are going to
learn by just having their work read, marked up, some people don’t think that’s
politically correct. When you grow up and you become an author,
Betsy my editor she just tore through all my stuff, and that happened to me
when I was a grown up, but I think we have to be looking a lot more as
education as a path to a goal. One of the things that all students need, it
doesn’t matter what field, you got to be able to read and write at least the
seventh grade level, decently. That’s USA today. You can run a fortune 500
company if you can then do the old-fashioned up through sixth grade
math the way it was taught in the 50s. You can run a fortune 500
company. I’ve been in the boardrooms. You do have to be able to read and write at that level. I think we’ll
take maybe three or four more questions and I’ll be able to talk to people out
at the book table because I’m a shameless book promoter. [Laughter] Because I want to get
information out there. Audience member: Hello. I was not really expecting to get the microphone, but I’m going to ask questions. First, I got here a little
late and was wondering if you could sign my book. Dr. Grandin: Wondering what? Audience member: I got this book from my mom a few years ago. Dr. Grandin: Did it help you out? I hope it helped you out. Audience member: Second, I’ve just gotten into college
last year. Dr. Grandin: I hope you’re doing well in college. Audience member: Thank you. I’m getting red. Dr. Grandin: I recommend that you take career relevant internships. This is something in every
department where I’ve gone all around the country, like in our department
in animal science we have 50 different internships in just about every
agribusiness thing that we’ve got in the West. Students can get out there and
try on careers then you go over to the engineering department, and I’ve talked
to the engineering department about this, they’re doing the same thing. Getting
their students out on construction sites, all kinds of places. They can try
on jobs because you don’t want to go into a career that you hate. It’s
just as important to find out what you like as to find out what you don’t like.
You’re going to have to ask that really quickly and then I’m going to
have to go on to somebody else. Audience member: The college I’m going to has foreign language as a
requirement and I’m kind of confused as to why I need to know a foreign language
in order to graduate. Dr. Grandin: Well I managed to get a ‘D’ in French, but I managed to graduate second in my class, and I had to
be tutored in French. It was my worst subject, and the only way I could learn a
foreign language was by reading. I was just down in Chile and they had an airline
magazine that was in English and Spanish. I’d have to take a dictionary and
get to where I could read the Spanish part, and then I find I start to hear a
word, like I go in the restaurant and I heard the words cafe caliente, meaning
it’s hot. I have some auditory processing problems, and when people talk
fast, then it goes in to gibberish. That’s why
it’s so important with the little kids you got to slow down when you talk to
them. There’s no way I could pick up a foreign language hearing it. I have
to read first and then I could start to pick the words out. I
wouldn’t worry about the grammar, I’ll get that later. I’ve just got to get
nouns, verbs, position words, like up, down, in, on. I think I’ll take
somebody else. Right here and I’ll just repeat it really quickly. Audience member: Why the arcs? Dr. Grandin: Cattle have a tendency to want to
go back to where they come from, so if you lay out the crowd pen like this
they go around the bend, they think they’re going back to where they come
from. There’s kind of a tendency to just circle around. Right here,
they have a natural tendency to want to go back to where they come from. I’ve
just found that that worked really well, especially with really wild cattle. We
had a lot of wild cattle out in the West when I started. Right they’re. Audience member: Out of curiosity, one of the hardest things in school is asking a professor or teacher why. Dr. Grandin: Asking a teacher or professor why you
have to do something? Audience Member: Not why you have to do something, why does it have to be that way? Dr. Grandin: Like what has to be what way? Audience member: When they’re trying to teach you something, my brain goes into the mechanics of it. Like I’ll be at a carnival, and I’ll just stop and apparently I disappear. I’m looking at the mechanics of it. Dr. Grandin: Maybe you ought to be a
repairman of carnival rides. They need people to fix them. There’s a lot
of people that are really good visually with equipment and they can’t
do algebra and some of the math, but there’s a huge need for repairing
equipment. You’re the kind of guy that if Tyson hired you, put you to work in
the maintenance shop, you could probably fix anything they had in there that was
mechanical. Audience member: How do you teach that though? If you question a teacher you are punished. Dr. Grandin: Now the thing is you’re again talking
in generalities. You’ve got to realize you’re a bottom-up thinking. I don’t think in
generalities. You have to give me a specific example of the course of what
the problem was with the teacher otherwise I can’t even answer it. Audience member: In fifth grade Mr. Bastarard, he ended
up figuring out that giving me the book to finish gave me an A. Staying
with the class was keeping me behind, but if he was trying to teach you that these
are the rules to algebra, geometry, whatever it is. Dr. Grandin: Algebra was a gigantic
mystery to me because the problem I have is if there’s no picture I don’t see it,
and if you’re the kind of person that’s visually very clever with machines you
need to skip algebra go to geometry. I don’t know why algebra is a prerequisite
for geometry becasue the Greeks invented it first. [Laughter] Audience member: But if you ask the teacher. Dr. Grandin: What I want to worry about right now, right now let’s worry about how you could get into a satisfying career. You really like to fix
machines, why don’t you get a portfolio together some stuff you fixed. You show
that to the guys over at Tyson or some of those, they’ll hire you instantly. You’ll
get a job. We’ve got a huge shortage of people that are good at fixing equipment.
That’s how I sold jobs. There’s an abstracts of algebra that
doesn’t make any sense to me, and the thing that saved my college career was
an educational fad, and education is big on fads, along with the teaching machines
which were really ridiculous, was the finite math class. Which in the 60s was
statistics, probability, and matrices. Now they’ve put computer programming in it. I
was horrible at that. They didn’t have computer programming in it when I took
it. Right there. Audience member: Do you know why your parents chose the name Temple for you? Dr. Grandin: It’s an old last name in the family. That one was
easy. I think we’ll do two more and then we’re going to end it. Right here. Audience member: I went to you your alma mater, Franklin Pierce. How did you like the school? Dr. Grandin: I had some great teachers there. Mr. Burns, my biology teacher was really good,
Mrs. Betty van der Sluis. When I look back on that I got a good education
there. Lots of times at these smaller schools a lot of students can
get a better education doing their more general classes in two-year
college, smaller classes. Franklin Pierce had a lot of retirees that would
come in and teach a single course there. One of them was Tom Evans, in animal
behavior. He was retired from a work he done at Harvard, and that’s one of
these got me interested in animal behavior. Tom Evans taught a wonderful
animal behavior class and he was a retired person. I had some extremely
good professors there. I went there, let’s see that would
have been, 66 through 70, when I was there. Let’s take a couple of
questions right over there. She’s going to run over there with the
mic and then we’re gonna end up real quick. You look real anxious. Audience member: How and when would you talk to your child that they have a diagnosis of autism? Dr. Grandin: How old is the child? Audience member: Five. Dr. Grandin: He’s five. Well if he’s doing really well he may not need to know. Is he doing really well? Is he getting along in school? This brings up another thing.
The places where I had friends was where I had shared interests. The only
places I was not bullied was at horseback-riding, model rockets, and
electronics class. Classes with a shared interest. Is your five-year-old
getting along well in school now? Then one of the things that my third grade
teacher did which was really good, is she explained to the other children that I
had a handicap but it wasn’t visible like a wheelchair, and I think that was a
really good way of of putting it. But if he’s doing just fine maybe he
can just kind of grow out of the diagnosis. Where it helps the
most is on relationships, especially with teenagers and adults. On the milder
kids, I don’t think it’s helping them on the careers. I just
had a parent talk to me tonight that found out they were on the spectrum and
they’re in a good job. Alright one more question right here.
The question was do I still use my squeeze machine. It broke about seven
years ago. I’m not using it anymore, I’m hugging real
people now. [Applauds] Pressure helped calm down my anxiety
and anyone who sits on the spectrum that’s got a lot of anxiety I recommend you get my
book on thinking in pictures where I describe successful use of
antidepressant medication. Didn’t get around to fixing it. Wait a minute. What did you want to ask me? Audience member: Was it ever designed to help other people? Dr. Grandin: They even buy
it from the therafin corporation right here in Illinois in Mokena,
Illinois. It’s kind of expensive I do have the drawings up online.
There’s other things you can do for pressure. Well, I just want to thank
everybody for coming thank you for coming. [Appluads] Dr. Grandin: I’ll be out in the lobby.
I’m too old to jump off the stage. I’ve got to go around here in the
back.