November 7, 2019 / Renowned autism activist, animal scientist Temple Grandin speaks at Vincennes University
Dr. Temple Grandin photo
VINCENNES, Ind. – Acclaimed autism expert and animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin gave a lecture on "Helping Students With Different Kinds of Minds Be Successful” to a capacity audience Nov. 7 at Vincennes University.
Grandin addressed a full house at Red Skelton Performing Arts Center on the VU campus and her speech was livestreamed on a video screen in VU’s P.E. Complex to an overflow audience. Around 965 complimentary tickets were distributed.
“Dr. Temple Grandin is the foremost authority on autism,” VU Education Department Chair and Associate Professor of Education Ann Herman said. “She is a wonderful advocate as she herself has autism and can speak about the struggles and triumphs she has experienced throughout her life.”
One in every 59 children (16.8 per 1,000) has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
For audience member Amy Howard, listening to Grandin speak and meeting her during a book signing was one of the top items on her bucket list. She is a mother of a 9-year-old child with autism and is a regional program specialist for Insource, which helps parents advocate for children and young adults with disabilities.
“This opportunity was No. 3 on my bucket list,” she said. “I am an autism mom. I am advocate for my child and other children. Different religions have Mother Teresa and the Pope. Seeing her is like my Mother Teresa almost. I’ll never forget this moment. My cheeks hurt from smiling.”
Howard, who is from Oakland City, praised Vincennes University for providing the opportunity for people to hear Grandin speak
Since autism is so prevalent, Herman and Angie Crabtree, director of Student Transition into Educational Programs (STEP) and Associate Professor, worked closely to secure resources to bring Grandin to the VU campus to help educate the community about autism and how the University can help these students to be successful.
“As the mother of someone diagnosed with autism and an educator of students with autism having Dr. Grandin speak at Vincennes University is a great opportunity for families in Southwest Indiana,” Crabtree said.
“Dr. Grandin is a beacon of hope. STEP students watch the Temple Grandin HBO movie in the spring semester of their freshman year,” Crabtree said. “Dr. Grandin is one of the only people who correlates her professional success with being diagnosed with autism. Grandin states her success in the animal science industry is due to her autism rather than despite it. College students really need to hear her message about people with autism and how success can be achieved.”
Grandin, who describes herself as a visual thinker, said that schools need to offer classes that foster creativity and problem solving. She also wants them to offer classes that support skilled trades.
“What would happen to some of the top innovators we have had if they were in today’s educational system?” Grandin said. “I think that’s something we have to think about. If they were born today, would they be less successful? Thomas Edison was labeled a hyperactive high school dropout until his mother home schooled him. He learned how to work at an early age. That’s the question you want to ask.”
Throughout her speech, Grandin stressed focusing on what a student can do, not what they cannot do.
“Receiving a diagnosis of autism, especially in a child, is overwhelming,” Crabtree said. “Doctors, educators, and specialists often communicate in acronyms and jargon, which confuses parents. Dr. Grandin’s message is down to earth and provides optimism rather than fear.”
Vincennes University assists students with autism through a variety of support systems on campus, including the Office of Disability Services, STEP, Summer Bridge, Collaborative Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (COPE) Student Support Services, and Experience VU.
VU Graphic Design Student Cameron Crecelius of French Lick, Indiana was grateful he heard Grandin speak. “As a kid, me and my family knew I had autism, but we didn’t really know what that was. All we knew was I had this thing called autism. Temple Grandin was one of our steppingstones to finding out what it was and how to cope with it,” he said.
The Vincennes University Education Department offers a four-year degree in Special Education. Students are required to take a course to learn to teach students who have autism.
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College
VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper, the Aviation Technology Center and American Sign Language program in Indianapolis, Early College Career and Technical Education Centers, and additional sites such as the Gene Haas Training and Education Center in Lebanon, the Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield, and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics in Fort Branch. A leader in developing Early Colleges statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.
In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.
VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 36 other states, and 21 other countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. More information is available at www.vinu.edu.
Vincennes University Newsroom
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director
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VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom