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
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
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
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.
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports
Information Director 812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell,
VUNews@vinu.edu, firstname.lastname@example.org VINCENNES UNIVERSITY,
Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom