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Spring on the York College campus

Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed

By by Jennifer Hindley '17
Temple Grandin
Left to right, Ericka Quenzer '18, Faron Main '19, adjunct faculty member and EquiTeam Executive Director Ellie Williams, Temple Grandin, and Paige Taylor '19 posed with a horse named Green Spring Puck at Leg Up Farm.

­­­"The world needs all kinds of minds." Temple Grandin, Ph.D., emphasized her steadfast belief in that statement when she visited York College this past semester. On March 9, Grandin, world-renowned autism expert and subject of the Emmy-winning docudrama Temple Grandin, educated the YCP community on the incredible potential of individuals with autism.

She drew from her own experience as a young child who displayed severe autistic behavior. Now, an accomplished author, speaker, professor, and inventor of the stress-relieving Squeeze Machine, Grandin shared her unique insights and vast knowledge with YCP students, faculty, and staff. As one of the top scientists in the humane livestock industry and a leading authority on animal behavior, Grandin also spoke with students and faculty from the Biology Department.

That evening, she delivered a captivating lecture titled "Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed" to a sold-out crowd in the Waldner Performing Arts Center. After expressing her reservations about the recent widening of the autism spectrum, Grandin asserted, "We wouldn't have NASA without some autism!" She explained that not everyone is a conventional learner and that some of the world's most brilliant minds took educational paths that greatly diverged from the norm. 

Grandin shared the "common denominators for success" that she believes helped her, and many others, to thrive despite being classified as learning disabled. These included early exposure to a variety of professions, ample opportunities for hands-on experience, early development of a strong work ethic, and access to mentors. Frustrated that video games have now replaced those common denominators, Grandin said, "You've gotta stretch these kids because, otherwise, they won't develop." Stressing the importance of understanding different thinking patterns as well as identifying one's own, Grandin said, "When I learned how my visual thinking was different from verbal thinking, it gave me insight into how different people's brains approach

Stressing the importance of understanding different thinking patterns as well as identifying one's own, Grandin said, "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 concluded her lecture with a lively Q&A session, which she used to provide her audience with further guidance and perspective.

Reflecting on the significance of Grandin's visit for the YCP community, Linda Miller, M.A., Director of Student Accessibility Services, said, "With the growing number of YCP students with autism, I can think of no better way to have raised acceptance and understanding of autism on our campus."

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