When I worked with my church’s group of teen girls, I had one girl who was autistic. She was fantastic, but it was hard for the other girls to know what to do when she did something out of place, and it was hard for the leaders to know what to do, too. Then I remembered this movie, Temple Grandin, and knew it would help. I chose a day when our autistic girl was out of town and talked to the girls and leaders about autism in general. (I didn’t mention our friend.) We talked about how it was tricky to know how to respond sometimes, and other difficulties. Lastly, we talked about how we are all children of God, who need friends and people who love us. Then we had a movie night and watched this movie.
About Temple Grandin
This movie is based on a true story about a remarkable woman and her mother who never gave up. Claire Danes plays Temple Grandin, a woman with autism, in an age where most people like her were put in an institution and forgotten about. However Temple’s mother knew her daughter was capable of more than society gave her credit for. With unfailing hard work, devotion, and tough love, she taught her daughter to read, to attend regular classes at school, verbalize and share her unique way of thinking.
As Temple grows, she experiences unkind people at school and sexism at work. Despite this, she uses her talents to eventually earn a Ph.D. and revolutionize the slaughterhouse industry, creating more humane and comfortable ways of treating animals. She also uses her insightful way of verbalizing to share how autistic people think and why we should appreciate this difference.
What I love about it
What I really love about this movie is how clearly it shows how wonderful Temple’s way of thinking is and her unique contributions to the world. I love that it helped my children see other autistic people around us not as “less than”, but “differently talented”–with a lot of value that they can add to the world. I also loved that it helped them to see that casual unkindness or dismissal is still unkind–even if it is not deliberately mean spirited and hateful. It made all of us think about how we treat people around us who are different. I am so grateful for movies like this that help us to see other viewpoints and appreciate those around us.
Family Discussion/Activity Guide:
-Watch the real Temple Grandin in this Ted talk.
-Discuss other autistic people you know. What are some of their special talents? If you don’t know what their talents are, perhaps arrange an activity where you can get to know each other better.
-What was Temple very good at?
-What stood in the way of other people appreciating her?
-Why are we sometimes uncomfortable, or even scared, when we are around people who are different than we are?
-How can we appreciate everyone around us and help our friends to enjoy them, too?
Community Question: Please share some of the talents of the autistic people you know. We love hearing about their unique contributions!