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CSU professor Temple Grandin speaks on autism and different ways of thinking

Temple Grandin wants people to think about how to think differently.

Grandin, a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, is considered one of the most successful people with autism in the world. Grandin is the author of eight books and has a semi biographical HBO movie, “Temple Grandin.” She spoke to a sold out crowd Monday night in the Lory Student Center as part of the President’s Community Lecture Series.

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Her lecture, “Helping Different Kinds of Minds Solve Problems,” comes in time for National Autism Awareness month.

CSU President, Tony Frank introduced Grandin as one of the most distinguished speakers in the lecture series.

“Temple sees problems from a different point of view,” Frank said. “That is what solves problems.”

Taking the stage, Grandin discussed different ways of thinking and how they can be used to solve problems, especially with autistic students.

“I am a visual thinker,” Grandin said. “I believed everyone thought in pictures as I did. After interviewing many people, I realized there were different ways to think, through words or patterns or visually, like me.”

According to Grandin, certain problems could be solved by different types of thinking.

“When I learned how my visual thinking was different from verbal thinking, it gave me insight into how different people’s brains approach problem solving,” Grandin said.

Through her own experiences, Grandin channeled her ambition and success toward helping younger students, with and without learning disabilities. She finds a hands on approach beneficial for getting students interested in learning.

“Go out in the field and find out what’s going on and have a specific goal,” Grandin said.

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There are many challenges for students with learning disabilities, according to Grandin. Skilled traits and physical labor are things that helped Grandin find her passion and career path.

“Art class was my salvation in elementary school,” Grandin said. “Carpentry and horses saved me in high school.”

Ashley Brotherton, a special education teacher, finds her tips on teaching students useful.

“She talks about the importance of slowing down when talking to students with sensory processing and how being specific with them is the most effective way to teach,” Brotherton said.

According to Grandin, many who face learning disabilities could grow to be successful by being exposed to new opportunities.

“The most important thing is to recognize there are different ways people think,” Grandin said. “If we are aware of this we can solve problems.”

Collegian Reporter Kendall Krautsack can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Keni444.

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