(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A national autism advocate is speaking in Little Rock about autism, what it is, and how to address it in your family.
Temple Grandin, is a source of inspiration for those with autism and their families. Grandin is an autism activist who was diagnosed with the disorder at age 2. She's also one of the nation's foremost experts on the treatment of livestock and says she remembers what it was like to grow up autistic.
"When I was little kid I couldn't talk. I can remember the frustrations of not being able to talk. I had extremely good early education and early intervention. I can't emphasize enough develop the child's strength," says Grandin.
Grandin, who designed curved chutes and other systems for cattle handling, worries other autistic children won't get those opportunities. That's the message she spoke about Monday in Little Rock.
"If you have a 2 or 3 year old child who's not talking worst thing you can do is do nothing. Then you got the kids who are quirky and different and I'm very upset that these schools have taken the hands-on classes out. All the art and woodshop and cooking and sewing and welding, because those classes teach practical problem solving," Grandin says.
Clarke Delp knows all too well how autism can affect families. She says Grandin has offered her help with her own autistic child.
"At the age of 6 he was diagnosed with autism. Part of me was a little relieved because I knew what I was dealing with then. Because for 6 years not knowing what I was dealing with was a struggle," says Delp.
Now, her autistic son Warren is 10-years old. She says Grandin helped her cope with his disorder.
"She has made sure that her life has not been defined by autism. She has accomplished such incredible things. Autism certainly comes with great challenges, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot live a fulfilling life, a successful independent life," says Delp. "She gives me hope, she gives most of the parents, all the parents I know hope that their child can be successful as she is."
More on Grandin:
A professor of animal science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., Grandin has received numerous awards from the livestock industry and animal-welfare groups for in improving the conditions in large processing plants around the country. She credits her sympathetic approach to animals to her mental condition and her fascination with the power of human contact.
Named one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2010, she received a master's degree in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989. The HBO film about her life and early career, "Temple Grandin," earned five Emmys in 2010.
"Dr. Grandin has a fascinating story to tell, not only from the standpoint of a woman involved in what is predominantly a male-oriented field, but also as someone who stood up for herself when others had written her off," said Debra Fiser, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine.
The luncheon will include a panel discussion featuring Molly Gathright, M.D., of the Psychiatric Research Institute and G. Bradley Schaefer, M.D., director of the Division of Genetics.
"We feel very fortunate to have Dr. Grandin come to Arkansas to speak," said G. Richard Smith, M.D., director of the Psychiatric Research Institute and chairman of the UAMS Department of Psychiatry. "Her accomplishments have shown that someone with autism can be a productive member of society, and we are looking forward to learning more about her successes."