I was so excited. Yesterday Temple Grandin– yes, THE amazing Temple Grandin– lectured at a semi-nearby college for FREE. What? Who’s Temple Grandin, you say? Probably anyone who has a child and/or loved one on the spectrum has heard of the amazing autistic woman with the funny name. For those of you who haven’t, well…it’s hard to explain Temple in one sentence. Or two. She is definitely one of my heros, no doubt about it. When you know how challenging it can be for people on the spectrum just to get through daily life and you see how far she’s come, it’s quite amazing. In short, professionally Ms. Grandin has changed the way cattle are slaughtered, making it much more humane. She’s also changed the face of autism just by being who she is. There’s so much more to it and her than that, of course, so you can read all about her here.
Anyway, for the rest of you who DO know and love Temple Grandin, I’m sure you can relate to my excitement. My dear friend Stephanie–who does not have a loved one on the spectrum, just my dear son :-)– wanted to go with me, so we hopped into my car an hour and a half early to get there in plenty of time. And then we hit traffic. Bad traffic. What was supposed to take half an hour took an hour and a half. I fully intended to get there at least an hour ahead. When we finally got there the entire campus parking lot was full. We circled around and around, feeling very lucky when someone pulled out and we nabbed a space. When we reached the doorway we realized where our luck came from. A man there turned us away saying there were over 700 people in there and the capacity was full.
Talk about disappointment. I felt like a happy helium balloon that someone had just poked a hole in. If it weren’t for my friend Stephanie who agreed to at least go have a drink with me I probably would have cried. Now that’s turning lemons into lemonade…or at least a lime into a gin and tonic.
Do any of you who deal with the spectrum in some way feel really connected to Temple? Maybe it’s strange, but I truly do. I guess many people must, seeing that turnout. On the long drive back (of course not nearly as long as that point…grrr) Stephanie pondered aloud, “Do you think all of those people there have a child with some form of autistm?” Maybe not a child, but obviously effected in some way, more than likely. All I can say is, wow. That was a powerful thought. Even though I know the statistics–they now say one in 110 children are diagnosed, up from 1 in 150 just a couple of years ago–actually seeing and experiencing something tangible is quite another. It was enough for us chatty-cathys to be quiet for a few moments, taking it all in with the occasional expletive being muttered.
Yes, there were plenty of expletives on my part last night. I was really hoping to bring you some great tidbits from that lecture, maybe even a photo with my dear hero. Alas, it was not meant to be. I WILL catch her at some point, I can promise you!