"Raising Temple"

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by 1 Day At a Time, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. The keynote speaker for the Autism/Asperger Conference I recently attended was Eustcia Cutler, the mother of Temple Grandin. What an incredible lady.... she definitely has earned the designation of Warrior Mom!

    She spoke for an hour and a half and she had the large audience in the palm of her hand. When she reminded us that Temple is 60 years old now... we were all doing the math. Wow, she looked no older to 50 to me, and she must be 80+...

    She described the anectodal history of autism through the ages up to modern times and she shared her path and her work with her daughter which was simply amazing. She had no services, no where to turn, and she put together the treatments that worked for her. Not surprisingly, she related some disappointing experiences that she had with the medical community. She did relate some positive ones as well, and they were important.

    She noted that she had two things on her side "luck and money". But after hearing her speak I would say that she had something much greater : her own incredible love for and belief in her daughter. I left that auditorium with something that I desperately needed, a renewed sense of hope and validation on a very deep level.
  2. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    She must be an amazing lady to have been able to do for her daughter what she did, under the circumstances. If I remember correctly, didn't the medical community label Temple as mentally retarded and suggest that her mother institutionalize her?
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    All parents are great - sometimes we're just given challenges to make us aware of how wonderful and strong we really are.

    She sounds like a warrior Mom.

    Glad you got to go. More happy that you feel renewed.

  4. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    I also, heard her speak. She was an amazing woman and a strong one. You are right she is a youthful, dignified woman.

    I spoke to her and modeled many of my choices after hers. She was very generous in talking to me and telling me why and how she did things. At the time she said she had hoped to publish her story.

    I had found Temple's books "Emergence" and"Thinking In Pictures" to be eye opening but as I read them I wanted to know about her mother. I was so fortunate to meet her.
    I'm glad you had the same sense about her as I did. I felt honored that she spoke to our group.

    Do you know if she ever published her book?
  5. tammyjh

    tammyjh New Member

    Fran, I think her book is published and if its the same one I'm thinking of, its called "A Thorn In My Pocket"?

    I would love to see Temple or her mom speak. So glad that you were able to see her and that it was a wonderful experience for you:D
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Wow, I am jealous that you got to hear her. Temple and her mom, in my opinion, are amazing! My heros.
    My sister got to hear Temple speak, and she said she was unbelievable. Her books are such a must read for anyone on this board.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
  7. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Thanks tammyjh. I ordered it on amazon.com. I'm excited to read it.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Back when difficult child 3 was in Kindergarten I had the opportunity to attend an autism conference session at which Temple was speaking. difficult child 3's teacher was sitting with me and I felt very pleased to be able to stand up and say, "Not all teachers give your kid a hard time. Here is one whose blood's worth bottling." Both of us got a great deal out of the day and as we'd travelled there together we had plenty of time to talk about things on the way home.

    I think Temple has since been back to Australia but I haven't had the chance to attend another conference. It was at that conference that I ordered my copy of "Thinking in Pictures" and after reading it I realised that it's slightly different for difficult child 3 - for him, the pictures also have subtitles.

    What I really got from this - a sense of hope, that our boy needn't have the pessimistic prognosis we'd been originally given. But I also noticed that she is at times VERY rigid in her thinking; I've noticed this in her books, too - a lot of her understanding of autism comes from herself, it seems it is still hard for her to realise that some autistic people can think differently to her, or react differently. Which makes me wonder - will I EVER get difficult child 3 to be able to at least MIMIC empathy?

    For anyone dealing with autism in your children - if you ever get the chance to hear Temple speak (and I would really love to meet her mother, too) then grab the chance.

    Speaking of mothers, another Warrior Mum is the mother of Elissa Down who directed "The Black Balloon". The film was based on Elissa's experiences growing up with two autistic brothers. In the process of our three youngest kids being in that film, I got to meet Elissa's mother (and her profoundly autistic brother, Sean) and to really connect with her about the adventures of raising autistic kids. I applaud the casting choice of Toni Collette playing the mother in that film. Sean is still very much dependent on his mother, she is his interpreter because he can't speak, he signs instead.

    Elissa's mother came to a few of the rehearsals and was there on the two days of filming we were there. Because I wasn't in the film I didn't have to rehearse (of course) and so we two mothers would sit and talk. There were other mothers there too, she talked to all of us, but I think I was the only one to also have multiple kids on the spectrum.

    I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for that book.

  9. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Marguerite, there is no doubt that Temple Grandin is affected and rigid but she functions. She has a full and successful life. I doubt my son will ever be in the realm of non eccentric but if he could have successes that he could call his own, I would feel at peace that my son has reached out for a full life. There is a personal satisfaction and heightened self esteem if one is successful in your work life. It's a big part of the foundation that we build on as we become mature adults.

    Her mother worked with very little information and no support. At that time, mother's were catagorized as refrigerator mom's and the cause of autism. She didn't let that stop her from making Temple grow into an independent, productive person. It's a pretty heavy burden for a mother to bear and yet continue to do what she felt was right for Temple. No shame. It was very unusual in those days.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I agree. I think both of them deserve credit. I remember at that conference that Temple herself gave a lot of credit to her mother, and also her nanny, I think it was - someone her family hired to work with her, to keep her interacting.

    How absolutely wonderful that they achieved what they did! Especially given the thinking at that time. Her mother must be an incredible woman, to fight so hard for her daughter against the odds and against a system and diagnosis that seemed so bleak. Add in the thinking at that time, that autism was the result of a "cold mother" - I'd like to think I could have fought like that, but I really don't know. I do know that there have been many times when I accepted the word of someone (a teacher, or a doctor) who in fact had got things badly wrong.

    I hope you don't think I was being critical or belittling their achievements in any way - far from it. I view them both as vital trailblazers.

    Thanks for this post, by the way. I didn't know before this that Temple's mother was also sharing her experiences. Stands to reason, though.

  11. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Marguerite, I didn't think any such thing. I was just sharing my experiences with the mother/daughter team.
    Although I never had a nanny, I took that to mean that we need others to help with the work of raising our special children. It helped me to search for supports and frequent breaks to recharge.
    Temple still had to be reminded about hygiene as an adult. It gives me hope that difficult child's weaknesses can be worked on while his strengths continue to be his strengths.

    I could see the emotional growth from the time TG wrote "Emergence" to the time she wrote "Thinking In Pictures". In the first book it was all about Temple and how she grew. Not much gratitude for others help and support. The second book is much more diplomatic with many references to others help. I think there was 10yrs between them.

    One of the lines that helped me understand my difficult child was something like this.
    Temple had grad students at her ranch in Colorado. One commented,"it must be wonderful to see such spectacular sunset over the mountains"(I'm not sure this is the exact quote) Temple realized that they were seeing something she wasn't seeing. It was just the sun going down as it did everyday. She didn't see or feel the awe that a NT might feel.
    Thinking differently is a difficult concept to understand. Her books really helped me look at the world through difficult child's eyes.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to resurrect this thread, because I just finished The Way I See It.
    I loved it! And I love her mother. What a beautiful, incredible, hardworking woman. What a gift these two women are to the rest of the world.
  13. Terry,

    Aren't they wonderful? They certainly keep hope alive for me....

    On another note, I'm looking forward to our conference this year. The keynote speaker is Daniel Tammet ,who wrote "Born on a Blue Day" - which is another great book.

  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Valerie, I just looked it up on Amazon. Wow. I can't even balance my checkbook and this guy is calculating Pi up to 20,000 digits or something. IN HIS HEAD!
    Well, I don't know if it would be better or worse for me if my son had that ability, LOL!
    I love the title.
  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Its a really neat book. He sees days in colors... and can calc the day for any given date, also in his head. Something about the colors.

    He actually shows in his book some of the patterns that he "sees" numbers in and explains why some were so hard for him to learn in school - even tho he has this amazing ability, he struggled to learn to write the numbers 0-9 because the written numbers were so different that his visual representation.
  16. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    So is The Way I See It her mother's book?
    (If so.........Grrrr.........I just placed an order on Amazon.......but you know I have to read Temple's mom's book;))
  17. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    No, it's Temple's book.
    But she credits her mother with a lot of stuff. Mostly, for not only spotting serious difficulties with-Temple from an early age, but doing something about it. Now we call it intervention. :)
    You will really enjoy the book, Steely.