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Case Study on Temple Grandin

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The movie Temple Grandin is a story of a woman different then most others. She sees the world in away most people cannot and do not understand. The movie shows her struggles and triumphs in childhood, her teenage years, and adult hood. I chose this movie for a couple of reasons first being that I understood this movie is to be about a real persona not just a charter. Second when watching the previews of the movies on the list this one struck a chord with my heart her mother’s statement “different not less” really hit home. Temple had many behaviors that would be considered abnormal. On the way to her aunt’s ranch, she talks and laughs not stop about a show she watched even though her aunt has not seen the show and does not understand. Temple does not like to be touched she actually pulls back when people try to touch her. Temple did not talk until the age of four she would stare at things like the chandelier or wallpaper lost in her own thoughts uninterested in what is going on around her.

Temple becomes extremely upset when a paper with her name on it falls off her bedroom door. She then finds relief by crawling in to apart of the cattle equipment that squeezes her. The first time Temple has to walk through automatic sliding doors she panics. Temple does not show emotion at the lost of a horse she spent time with or her high school science teacher who mentored her. As Temple rides with her aunt she goes on and on about her favorite show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. although her aunt has not seen it and does not know what she is talking about she continues to go on. This is seen as abnormal because normally if we are talking to someone and they are not interested or do not understand we change the subject because we want the people we are talking to, to interact with us to communicate what they think and feel about the subject. Temple really does not seem interested in what her aunt thinks. Temple’s dislike of touch is abnormal most people like to be hugged especially by someone they love Temple will not even allow her mother to touch her. She actually revolts when people reach out to touch her.

Not wanting to be touched a lot in and of its self is not completely abnormal. At least I do not think it is as am not a very touchy person and know a lot other people who do not love giving or getting hugs. The difference here is the degree to which she does not want to be touched. I am not usually the person that initiates hugs but I do not revolt or say no when someone else does. Touch actually seems to hurt Temple it is not just a simply dislike of being hugged or touched. Temple did not talk until the age of four this is abnormal. Most children can say simple sentences by the age of two. She was often lost in her own world were as most children want to interact with other people especially their mothers. Temple’s panic attack when the paper with her name on it fell off the door is abnormal. Temple seemed to notice that it was on the floor but was still very scared and upset when she walked into her room it was as if she did not recognize it. Most teenagers and children would still know their room rather it had their name on it or not. She then runs out and into a piece of cattle equipment, which when closed squeezes her. The piece of equipment would be a little scary to most and even if not scary most people would not think that, something used to calm cows would calm them. Temple panics when she is faced with walking though automatic sliding doors.

Pictures of guillotines and knives chopping run through her mind. With these pictures associated with automatic sliding doors, it makes perfect sense that she would be afraid. However, the average person does not associate a guillotine with an automatic sliding door. The fear would be consider irrational as the probability of the door closing on her is slim and if it did it would not cut her in half. Temple shows little to no emotion with the death of Chestnut or her science teacher Dr. Carlock whom she seems to like and trust. Most people would feel a deep lost in either of situations her question is not why or how but “do you know where they go”. Not all of Temple’s behaviors are abnormal but what makes some of them abnormal is the degree to which she takes things. It is normal to be uneasy when moving in to a college dorm but her reaction is considerable more than the average persons would experience. Temple demonstrates some of her behaviors all of the time as they are a part of who she is. Others only when she is faced with something that provokes them. Talking about her interest, rather others are interested or not seem to be a norm for her.

The older she gets the more she comes out of her world she shows limited interest in interacting with others and a greater appreciation for the people in get life. She never becomes a fan of being touched but does allow her blind roommate to touch her arm and leans into her mother as if she is trying to hug with limited touching. Temple builds her own squeeze machine to replace the cattle equipment she was using at her aunts and uses it often throughout college after having panic attacks and before doing things that caused her anxiety. She has trouble at every automatic sliding door she comes to but does eventually make it through one and then allows someone to help her by hold the doors open. Temple never shows any real emotion with the idea of someone or animals dying. Temple’s behaviors could be intense the panic attacks and anxiety made it hard for her to interact with others. People did not help this many provoked Temple into anger or were just plain mean and there behavior provoked or intensified her anxiety often leading her in to panic attacks. Despite all of her challenges Temple has done amazingly well for herself she is an inspiration.

She created a new system for cattle from the time they come in to a feed yard all the way through to the time they are slaughtered. She had a few meaningful relationships they did not show to be very reciprocal but I would guess that at some point they were. With her mom, she was able to let her know the she knew what she had done for her. Her aunt and Dr. Carlock spent time with Temple she like them but may have never thought to ask them “how are you today”. Her college roommate was her friend Temple did not treat her different because she blind and her roommate did not treat Temple different they seemed to have a special understanding of each other. Temple was diagnosis with Autism in 1951 at a time very little was known and even less understood about autism spectrum disorders. I would say that Temple was on the higher end of the autism spectrum. Because she was able to learn to talk and over time, she gained better control of her emotional regulation. She talked different but at the lower end of the spectrum, some never learn to talk. She was able to become self sufficient and very successful going through school all way to getting her doctorate.

Unfortunately, those on the lower end of the spectrum could not achieve these things even with all the support in the world. Temple did not receive treatment in the conventional way. However, the work her mother, aunt and Dr Carlock did with her help her to develop some social skills and find her talent and unique ability. They built up her confidence and encouraged her to walk through “doors”. I do believe that Temple could have benefited from some of the treatments and therapy used today. I think that Temple could have benefited from anxiety medicine. Temple could have benefited from Sensory integration therapy. People with autism may have objections to specific textures, being touched and cover their ears with specific noises Lang et al. (2010, p. 1004). Temple displayed these behaviors therapies for these sensory issues can include a weighted vest, being squeezed between pads or pillows also tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive sensory stimulation to teach self-regulation (Lang et al., 2010, p. 1005). The weighted vest or being squeezed between pads or pillows could have given her the same feeling as the machine she built. Temple could have also benefited form behavioral therapy learning adaptive skills and emotional regulation.


Lang, R., O’Reilly, M., Olive, H., Rispoli, M., Lydon, H., Streusand, W.,…Giesbers, S. (2010). Sensory integration thearpy for autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 1004-1018. Monger, C. (2010). Temple Grandin [Motion Picture]. Burbank, CA: HBO FILMS.

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