Kathleen Jurgens and Dr. Temple GrandinThis photo was taken in December 2010 at the Autism and Aspergers Conference in Galveston, Texas.  Dr. Temple Grandin, on the left, was the key-note speaker. The high school student standing with her is my young friend Kathleen.

Dr. Grandin has been named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Heros for 2010 .  Originally labeled as brain-damaged, Dr. Grandin is now a nationally known speaker, a prolific writer, and holds a PhD in Animal Science.  In a series of inspirational books, she has described her experiences living and working with autism.  She has spent her life making animal handling practices more humane, stating that “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.”  In fact, over half the cattle in this country are now processed according to her standards.

Dr. Grandin’s mind works differently than almost everyone’s – and she illustrates this scientifically in her lectures.  She credits her unique ability to understand animals to her neurological differences, thus considering them advantages instead of handicaps.

Kathleen is also planning to major in animal science when she graduates from high school.  Like Dr. Grandin, she has already spoken as a panelist in several autism and Asperger’s conferences.  I am proud of her, and expect great things!

Roger Martin