APEX Hour at SUU

2/10/22: Temple Grandin - Developing Different Minds

Episode Summary

In today’s show, the world-renown speaker Temple Grandin joins host Lynn Vartan to discuss how different minds process and learn. As an advocate for autism, Dr. Grandin shares best practices and ways for parents and educators to develop student success. She also discusses her ground-breaking work in livestock management and her path to her great finds in that field. Enjoy!

Episode Notes

SUU APEX Website

Episode Transcription

Dr. Lynn Vartan  00:00

Hey everyone, this is Lynn Vartn and you are listening to the apex hour on K SUU thunder 91.1. In this show you get more personal time with the guests who visit Southern Utah University from all over learning more about their stories and opinions beyond their presentations on stage. We will also give you some new music to listen to and hope to turn you on to some new sounds and new genres. You can find us here every Thursday at 3pm or on the web at suu.edu/apex. But for now, welcome to this week's show here on thunder 91.1. All right, well, welcome in everyone. What an awesome day it is today. Today was a record breaker for APEX events. I have to say in my six years of doing Apex events, we have never had an event that was so maxed out in capacity, and it's because of the guests that is sitting across the table. I am joined in the studio today by the incredible the fabulous Temple Grandin. Welcome.


Dr. Temple Grandin  01:13

Well, thank you so much for having me. It has been great talking to everybody today.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  01:18

It has been such an amazing time. I mean, as I said it the it was bursting at the seams. We had hundreds and hundreds of people here to see you. Your background ranges, so many different areas. And I'd love to just get into it. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do right now in your working career?


Dr. Temple Grandin  01:38

Well, I am a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. I've been there for many, many years. And the research I've worked on there is on mostly cattle behavioral system horse behavior research on temperament of animals. How horses perceive novel objects is a project we just finished up now. I've also done a lot of work on designing I livestock handling facilities for large meatpacking plants. There's a piece of equipment called a center track restrainer system I've designed for large plants and all the big plants worked on these big heavy construction projects in the 80s and the 90s. And I started out in the feedlots out in Arizona, learning about cattle handling, and designing facilities and working on improving how cattle are handled.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  02:27

What was the first moment because you you grew up in the east? What was that first moment like when you first got exposed to cattle?


Dr. Temple Grandin  02:35

Well, this brings up a really important thing about students, students get interested in things they get exposed to. And when I was in high school, I was getting bullied and teased in high school. It was horses, but again, I had to be exposed to them to get interested. And I think some people know that when I was a child, I had no speech delays for I was a severely autistic child. And I want to make sure that, you know someone's got a two year old or three year olds not talking that working right now and good early intervention and teaching. Get them talking. And I had a lot of excellent teachers when I was in school. Like my science teacher, I was a board student who didn't care about studying. And he got me interested in studying mentors that can help develop a person are just so important.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  03:20

Yeah, and when you started working with cattle, you very famously kind of got down at their level and really saw it and and can you talk about that experience? And what made you think to do that?


Dr. Temple Grandin  03:32

Well, I'm an extreme visual thinker. Everything I think about recent pictures I talked about in my book, Thinking in pictures, and it also shown very nicely an HBO movie they made about me on, on how I think in pictures. And I noticed this cattle were going through the shoots in the Arizona feed yards to get vaccinated would have been back in the 70s, that they might stop at a shadow. That might be a coat on a fense, some little thing most people don't notice, the cattle would stop that. So it was obvious for me to get down the chutes and see what they were seeing. I take pictures from a Cow's Eye View. And I was noticing things other people didn't notice. Now at that time when I was in my 20s I didn't know that a lot of other people think mainly in words. And so they wouldn't think to get in the chute to look at what cattle were seeing. But to me that was obvious. And if you remove the distractions, like let's say you take the coat off the fence, you move the truck that's parked alongside the facility, then the cattle will be a lot more willing to go through the facility I call that removing the distractions, right very, very simple thing you can do that concise really improve handling. Right?


Dr. Lynn Vartan  04:40

And and then when you got into the design process, did you see in your mind how the machinery should be? Or did that develop through the act of drawing? How did that come to be?


Dr. Temple Grandin  04:51

Well, first thing I did when I started out in my 20s back in the Arizona feed yard I went to every feed yard in Arizona and I worked cattle in the facility. And then I took pictures and drawings of that facility. And I kind of looked at what's parts of that facility word. And I took all the good bits and put them together into new systems. But I went out and I looked at a lot of different things from really bad things to really good things. Or there might be one layout where one part of it was really good, but the other part didn't work very well. On. That's how I got started designing cattle handling facilities. And then since I was weird and different, how do I sell my work to people? Well, when I finally got a some projects, I would show people my drawings, I'd show people pictures of jobs, I would show off my work. In fact, I talked to a young lady today at the luncheon, very talented in making costumes for like Shakespearean plays. And I said, You've got work there, that's really professional. And the way you need to sell it, you need to show off the costumes that you made you the making costumes for the Shakespeare Festival. You see, that's an example of showing your work, or learn to sell my work rather than myself.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  06:06

I'm so glad that you mentioned that because that's, I think such an important component. And one of the things that a lot of students do as they say, I want to do this, or I, I want to do this, but then they don't have that work to show and get it out there. So it seems like that was really important in your development.


Dr. Temple Grandin  06:23

Well, yes. Another thing is I saw doors to opportunity. There is a scene in the HBO movie where I go up to the editor of our State Farm magazine, Arizona fire arrangement, I would have been in my 20s. And I got this card, because I knew if I wrote for that magazine, that would really, really help my career. Yeah. And then after I got his card, I then wrote a summary of my master's thesis work on cattle behavior in different splay shoots. So once I got the card that I produced a decent article, and then a few months later, I became livestock editor for the farmer ranch man. And that got me access to all kinds of places on and I would do things like do the show and sale results and then get to do interesting feature articles. Yeah. But a lot of people don't see the door, or they don't have the guts to go up and get the card. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  07:16

What advice do you have, I mean, not just for young people growing up with with autism, but for everyone to develop the confidence to make that step?


Dr. Temple Grandin  07:26

Well, and I remember when I got, I was asked to do my very first big job was was designing the dipping VAT system that was shown in the movie. And I was maybe at the, you know, 60% level of you know, knowledge, I knew all the cattle handling stuff, but I had no idea how to do the concrete reinforcement for the tank. And I said, Give me three weeks. Gotta remember this is pre internet. I knew some people I could call to get the drawings for the concrete reinforcing rod, I didn't try to wing it. You've got to ask for help when you need it. That's another mistake that people make. Not asking for help. Because I had to get very specific engineering drawings on how to do the concrete reinforcement, and I got them on but some people are scared to take a job and less than 95% knowledge. No, I was maybe 60 to 70% knowledge. But then I got on that phone and we call it the horn back in those days. Yeah, yeah. And I got the information. And I think one of the things that helped me with the confidence, and I'm seeing a lot of kids with autism today are scared to do stuff. Well, I was selling candy for charity as a kid. When the parents had parties in our neighborhood, all kids had to put on their good clothes, and be a little party hosts and hostesses and learn how to shake hands with the guests and talk to them. And that teaches really important social skills. So then I wasn't afraid to call up and ask for the card.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  08:48

Well, that early work ethic, you've talked, you talked about it in your talk today. And I love this aspect of it. Can you talk a little bit more about the, your feeling of the importance of that go a little deeper into that. How important it is, is for young people to get working right away? What kinds of things can they be doing? What sort of skills can they develop from that? Well,


Dr. Temple Grandin  09:09

I talked to grandfather just today who's discovered he's on the autism spectrum. And he's a pharmacist just talked in today. And I've talked to others that were it or they were computers or they were accountants and all of those granddad's had early jobs like paper routes, yeah. Now I know paper routes are gone. But let's look at substitutes for paper routes. So it's very important for that kid to learn how to do a task outside the home on schedule or somebody else's the boss how about church volunteer jobs at age 11? Yeah, and you're gonna have to like set up the food for the social and it's a job and you do it every every, you know, we certain week nights, things like that. On mother got me a sewing job when I was 13 for seamstress that worked out of her home. Then while 15 I was cleaning horse stalls, and then I went out to my aunt's ranch. I had to do work out there. I'm then I also started a little sign painting business when I was in high school, and that sort of entrepreneur stuff, and you see what skills I learned painting signs, and selling them making custom made signs, is the same skills for selling my livestock. Because I learned to show off the portfolio, an interview for me was put the drawings out there and show the pictures. Okay, the lady today with the costumes, she showed me two gorgeous outfits that she made on on her phone, I said, that's your portfolio. And your specialty could be you know, like, you know, you know, fancy dresses for medieval times or Shakespearean times, and also be your costume special. And I look those pictures said these are professional grade costumes. You can do this professionally. And I started out my business with livestock handling one small project at a time. And the other thing I did it, I wrote about them. That's another thing I did,


Dr. Lynn Vartan  10:58

okay, so that's a great element too. So everything that you do have a portfolio but also write about the things that you've accomplished. And you've written so many books, can you give us a little overview of some of the books in case our listeners want to get a handle on metal, the


Dr. Temple Grandin  11:14

very first book was emergence labeled autistic. And I was approached by a publishing company on that. And then my next book was in 1993, was livestock handling and transport. And the textbook publisher approached me because they seen some of my papers. And then one of my most popular books, thinking and pictures, a book agent approached me after Oliver Sacks had written an article about me, I'm, and the thing is, you need to jump on these opportunities. I'm seeing too many parents today, where there's a child that has a, you know, a diagnosis, autistic, dyslexic ADHD, and they're just going nowhere. They're getting addicted to video games, and they're not getting jobs, they're not having good outcomes. And I'm seeing too many verbal kids. They're not going shopping. They're not learning basic skills, right? Because when I was out working in large meatpacking plants in the 80s, in the 90s, out on big construction projects, and they're building whole factories, and I was on those projects, and of course, I got to walk around the whole entire project. One of the things I learned was a 20% of some of the really creative people that worked with that did drafting, laying out factories, inventing cleverly designed equipment, and owned metal fabrication shops and selling stuff around the world with autistic dyslexic or ADHD. And I'm being serious. Yeah. And those people aren't getting replaced. Yeah, we're losing skills. We need people and keep, you know, power distribution, equipment running and things like that. And it's going to be the people like me, the visual thinkers. Now, we're not very good at algebra.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  12:54

Well, you have that great quote, in the way that I see it that said, it that says what, what would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? And you say, you'd have a bunch of people standing around in a cave chatting and socializing and not getting anything done? 


Dr. Temple Grandin  13:08

Well that's the problem. You see, a brain can be more social, emotional, or brain can be more interested in what they do. And I find a lot of things like figuring out how to design equipment, I find that extremely interesting. And, and my kind of mind, since we can't do algebra in the abstract, we're getting screened out. And there's a huge shortage of car mechanics, want to just talk now about the different kinds of thinking and there's scientific research research for this. I'm what's called an object visualizer. Everything I think about is a specific picture. And that another kind of mind is the visual, spatial mathematical mind. These kinds of minds are going to be on mathematics and music, and then you have verbal thinkers. And verbal thinkers tend to be very top down vague concepts. But how do we actually implement something? You see, the visual thinkers are more bottom up? Well, here's a situation where this particular cattle handling facility worked is another situation where it did not okay, what was specifically wrong with it, it gets very specific. And we need all the different kinds of minds to to do things. And I, I'm seeing too many parents getting way too overprotective of the kid. Now what you want to do is step by step. We have to be careful somebody because sensory problems sensory overload, surprises can scare. But one of the things I learned very early on, you know, I made an accommodation myself. I don't remember long strings of verbal instruction. So when I was doing a job, I'd have a legal pad and I would write down all the things a job had to do all the parameters, I'd write it down. So I'd written instructions. And because I don't remember long strings of verbal instruction by my computer, I got very little working memory, but I have warehouses full of servers. Yeah, from memory.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  15:01

I love that. That's a great image right there. Um, one of the things that you mentioned in your talk today was the power of getting interested in things in dealing with fear. And I wonder if you might talk about that a little bit. How, if if you have a child who's afraid of something, or if you yourself are afraid of something, how you would use getting interested in it or learning about it, to overcome them.


Dr. Temple Grandin  15:27

You might have a child afraid of loud noise. And let's say something like a hairdryer, well, or, or a vacuum cleaner, the let the child turn it on and off, where they control it, that can often help. But what else in my 20s, my two most feared things, airplanes, and public speaking, and I walked out of my very first public speech in graduate school. And what I learned is to have good slides. So if you panic, you go to the next slide. Or I need to have notes that are like bullet points, right. For each thing I'm going to cover, then I go to the next bullet point. You're almost like a pilot's checklist right? Right on, and that helped me and then with the airplanes, I was in a very scary emergency landing when I was young. And I had a chance to ride in the cockpit of a plane hauling heifers to Puerto Rico's early 70s. And then it started to get interesting. You got to take that thing you're afraid of, and make it interesting. Then it gets a lot less scary. Yes, we sorta like you learn more about it. Yeah. It makes it less scary.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  16:34

I love that. Well, that's a perfect place for us to take our first music break. We've been talking about how awesome the music of the 60s and 70s is. And you love it and we're also excited that it's so popular now. Which is great. So the first song I picked a few songs from the 60s and 70s from a variety of things and on the first one is Born to be Wild. The Steppenwolf single so you're listening to the apex our this is K SUU thunder 91.1. All right, well, welcome back everyone, this is the apex our I am Lynn Vartan. And as always, you can find out more about our events on our website, which is suu.edu/apex. And if you're interested in the music that's played on the apex, our there is a Spotify playlist that's called played on apex, our and you can also find that on our website su.edu/apex. Under the podcast tab, I am joined in the studio today by Dr. Temple Grandin. And we are having such a great time talking about learning, talking about students talking about her career, talking about music from the 60s, welcome back Temple.


Dr. Temple Grandin  21:08

It's great to be here.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  21:09

I would love to get into a little bit of talk about land stewardship. You visited one of our classes earlier today. And I thought it was just wonderful to hear you talk about some of your ideas about where we are right now in terms of land use. And I'd love for you to share some of your thoughts about that.


Dr. Temple Grandin  21:28

Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking about, um, you know, been in my career for many, many, many years. And what's the future of the cattle industry, I've been in the cattle industry my whole career. And you know, people are gonna talk about making a meeting, bio reactors and stainless steel vats, we're going to, you know, grow meat and things like that, you know, what's gonna happen with the cattle industry. And I've been learning more and more about range management, reading more about it. And learning some really important things, like 20% of all the land in the world is grazing land, you cannot use it for crops, there's not enough water. Oh, and another thing I learned when we had an agronomist come and do a seminar at Animal Science, is that the very best cropland in Iowa and Illinois was created by herds of grazing bison, that is a grazing animal, they are part of the land. Now, I've been on ranches all over the US. I've been to Ranchers on South America and ranches in Australia. I've seen cattle operations all around the world. And when grazing is done correctly, with the right rotation, you can improve land, you can also wreck land with grazing, when you do grazing, right? It improves land.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  22:39

Is that because the nutrients are...


Dr. Temple Grandin  22:41

That's right, because what you do is the the cattle fertilize the ground. Now you've got to make sure they don't strip the land. And that's why you've got to do pasture rotation correctly. And that's going to be different in different parts of the world. But a good ranchers can be great stewards of the land, and actually improved the land. We need our family ranchers. And, and there's more and more being learned about grazing about rotational grazing, about integrating cover crops with crops such as corn or soy, where every third year you're grazing cattle on that same piece of ground. And you can drastically reduce the amount of chemicals you have to use. And actually, the kind of approach that might be the best in the long run, is you take some of the organic ideas, but you still keep a few chemicals. Now we're sort of a hybrid approach, where you're using the best of both, but the grazing animal is part of the land, and we need to be using them right. When they used right. They can sequester carbon and improve the land. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  23:42

Along those lines, I was curious, do you have an opinion about GMOs and their use or anything about that?


Dr. Temple Grandin  23:49

Well, let's look at what the first GMO is, which most people don't know. What is it? It's not anything to do with Roundup, I can tell you that. It is insulin is, and back in the 70s I was going over and visiting the Swift plant and they used to collect the pancreas glands from cattle to make insulin. Oh really. They get 10 days of life for diabetic with steer and five days from a Paik. Then in the late 70s. Our DNA insulin was invented where you take bacteria and you grow human insulin it recombinant DNA. That's your first GMO. Oh, before the word GMO was ever invented.It's insulin. And then in the 80s of it switched over. They phased out the collections of pancreas clients. See now you could get insulin but it had to be a GMO. And there's some GMOs that could have been really good like you know, vitamin A rice now some of the Golden Now, there's some really good things that we can we Due to GMOs, I mean, we need to proceed carefully. Right things right. You know, things like, you know, resistance to drought, a lot of good traits and crops. I take a view where we have to be, you know, careful about what we do when we move ahead, and we do things.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  25:16

And I also was curious. So how do you think that we as a as a nation can encourage family farming in the right way? I mean, how do we make that shift to keep that alive?


Dr. Temple Grandin  25:29

Well, the National Academies Beef Association has been you know, every for a long time said their sustainability stewardship award. On the other thing is, I've watched when grazing changed up in this industry 50 years. And when the very first rotational grazing stuff came in, people thought it was crazy. And the thing is interesting in a lot of things is little guys innovate on the big guys, little guys innovate. And when you first start to kind of laughed at, but then gradually, something that was considered kind of offbeat, 20 years ago becomes on mainstream, and one of the grazing is going to be different in different parts of the country and in different parts of the world. Something that works in one place may not work somewhere else. It's very variable. But the basic principle is that a lot of people don't realize is when you rotate a pasture, the green stuff regenerates before the roots. Right? And you gotta wait for the roots to regenerate. And you're going to need very good local advice. Because you can do things wrong. Yeah, I've seen land ruined with grazing, I've also seen land greatly improved with racing. Yeah. And this is Spiegel saying, Oh, we're gonna just kick all the cattle off the land. But the problem is, if you do that, then you don't have that rancher. Mm hmm. Another basic thing with land is people care about land they own a big problem both with anything is rented land, people are not good rented land. I recently was out in California visited an operation that had been rented land, and they had been really abused.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  27:00

So I wonder more more incentives to continue to own to continue to keep land in the family sounds like a good idea?


Dr. Temple Grandin  27:10

Well, we've got to, we've got to be showing people more and more how we can actually improve, right? Improve land, maybe good stewardship of land. But what people don't realize is 20% of the world, the whole world. You see in some other parts of the world, it's called Step right. You hear that term? STPP Yep, he then that's grazing land. Y'all have been parts of the world where the step land got ruined from over grazing slowly through all the livestock off now there really isn't got to put them back on. But you're gonna have to start rotating those pastures. Yeah. And you've got to start making the livestock do it more of the way they did the way the bison did it. Yeah, write a bunch together, mow a patch and move on. Yeah, don't just spread out all over the pattern, cherry pick it and eat all the candy off of it and leave the celery. As Fred Provenza the famous grazing scientists go, they eat the best and leave the rest?


Dr. Lynn Vartan  28:02

Yeah, right there eating the candy. I love that.


Dr. Temple Grandin  28:04

And people are more and more learning about how to do these things, right. But I see a good future for grazing animals. And there's a lot of different grazing animals, cattle, sheep are just two of them.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  28:17

Staying on the animal topic a little bit you were talking in your work, you're involved in so much innovative research, interesting projects. And one of the things that you were talking about in the in the class was about animal perception and relating objects. And I think that was one something one of your students was working on. And I was wondering if you might talk about that. That was very interesting on how animal perception depending on the angle of an object, if you could talk about that a little bit


Dr. Temple Grandin  28:49

that song that's our brand new project. That was Megan Corrigan's master's thesis published in 2021. And we looked at how horses react to rotate an object. And the title of the paper is got American Quarter Horse in it. I don't know why a reviewer wanted that in the title, but they did. You can find it on Google Scholar. If you type in Temple Grandin and American Quarter Horse I'm sure you'll find it. Yeah. But the thing we were trying to do is I want to do a scientific experiment to prove observations I've been making for a long time that animals get afraid of stuff that looks a specific way they are sensory based thinker. And this might help explain why does a horse to spook for no reason. So Megan went to Walmart and bought a children's play set, a colorful plastic playset that had a little slide and a little swing for a toddler. And she put it in an alcove of our CSU horse barn. And they walked Phillies and Colts. They work horses because they were in our cult training program. But before the students started training them, they just they were trained to lead and they walked them past this place that 15 times and was all dying to slow walk. Now when they first walked by they'd stop, they would raise their head up or flirt or nostrils, and then you walk them by it till they no longer react. And when you rotate that place that night of Grace became a new object. And the horses would stop again. Now this was done to slow walk. If this had been done at a gallop, and the horse slammed on the brakes, somebody is going to get dumped. Yeah. And then I did another that that's our formal scientific paper. Now I have a scientific paper that shows that that thing became something new when it was rotated. You see a verbal thinker would look at a playset. And go it's kid's toy. It's the place that it's a place. Yeah. But a horse doesn't know where to place, especially young horses that young would never seen a play. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  30:40

They're looking at it in that specific configuration, which you can then habituate them to, but if that configuration or that prevent,


Dr. Temple Grandin  30:47

They've never seen a child play on it, yeah, right. Well, they've got no idea what the thing is for. And then I went up to a horse son, horse meeting and, and they just had some Western horses that were being trained. They were riding horses in Western. And I told him about the study, Emily got a big green plastic chair, really weird, large green plastic chair that just that we found on the place. And they quietly rode by it at a walk until the horses would no longer stomp. This is all done in the walk, it would have been dangerous in anything. Anything bigger than a walk. And then we rotated the chair. Almost half the horses did a hard stop. Wow, rotating that chair. Wow. And recently, I was supposed to have a meeting with Arizona, four h over zoom, and the leader fell off, got bucked off a donkey. And I told her about the C studies. And she goes, hmm, I think there was a cattle skull on a fence. And they might have looked at it from the other direction. Yeah. You see, then she started thinking about that. Yeah, yeah. And and she got very badly hurt. And we had to cancel the Zoom call. Wow. One other question about kind of where we are right now in terms of livestock and particularly with me, and looking ahead to being as smart as we can about the future. Do you think that we have some good practices in place, but do you think that we are consuming too much and that's causing some bad practices like overfeeding and overweight? Is it related to the... I worked with McDonald's Corporation back in 1999, to implement their animal welfare auditing program, and I figured out a very simple way to assess slaughter plants like percent stun on the first shot where the cattle got unconscious, instantly, no stuff like that very simple scoring. And when you have a big buyer insisting on some standards, it works really well. And the good news is, we didn't have to buy a bunch of expensive equipment, right. In fact, a lot of the plants already had my systems, but they were not using them very well. And what this did is it forced them to start managing their stuff, repairing stuff, managing stuff, and so I got really happy for about five years. So if things are working just great. Then we start seeing some handling problems that were caused with things wrong with the cattle lameness stiff. Some of this was too many growth promotions, then solve it was genetics. As we select especially Angus cattle for more and more heavier muscling, we start getting some leg confirmation issues. Well, now the Angus Association realizes that's a problem. And they're now got, you know, guidelines for selecting for better feet and likes. But the problem is, if you overslept for any single trait, genetically, you'll wreck your animal. I think we have to start looking at what is optimal. Okay, we select horses just to run and you get weird bleeding problems and muscle cramping problems. You know, what is optimal? Not maximum. But we've got to have animals that we can, they're going to function. Another mistake that was made was getting beef cattle too big, right? They get too big for the carrying capacity of the land. We made that mistake back in the 70s. Then 10 years ago, I've been around for a long time and made the same mistake with forgot about the past. And now they're, they're realizing like in Nebraska, for example, you want a moderate sized cowl, not a giant huge one.


Dr. Lynn Vartan 34:26

Right. Do you think that the amount of consumption is a is an issue? Should we be moderating our consumption of meat in? Would that help?


Dr. Temple Grandin  34:36

Well, it's a hard thing to say. But I'm probably a lot of things we need to be moderating consumption. Right? Let's look at all the stuff that's on the container ships, they can't get unloaded like this 100 container ships, you know, floating around outside of San Francisco and LA half the stuff on us containers we don't need right you know, clothing. That's another very wasteful wasteful industry. Yeah, um, And I think one thing that COVID has done, it's made people aware of supply chain problems. You know, like grocery store shelves aren't just magically filled, right? There's a whole supply chain. And one thing very lucky here in the US we've never starved. I've been in countries where people have starved in the past went to Japan about 10 years ago. I was shocked to see they were growing crops on the median strip to highways. No lawns in Japan. Land is too valuable that you waste on lawns. That was normal shocking things I saw when I went to Japan.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  35:39

Huh, interesting. Well, thank you so much for that we'll time for another song. So the next one I have is I'm a believer by the monkeys I thought that might be kind of a fun one very upbeat so we'll check that out you're listening to KSUU you thunder 91 If I can get it to play point one here we go. Alright everyone welcome back so we are taking a trip into the 60s in our music today and that was I'm a believer by the monkeys. I mean how can you not feel good listening to that song. I have been having just such an awesome conversation with Temple Grandin. Welcome back for another musical another talking break. Welcome Temple.


Dr. Temple Grandin  39:00

It's great to be here.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  39:01

We want to start by making sure every you have so much information on both of your websites that are is available to the public. And so I would love for you to tell our listeners about your websites and where to find all of your great stuff.


Dr. Temple Grandin  39:14

Well I have two websites I have grand a not com that's just my last name grandland.com That's my livestock website. And then I have temple grandin.com all one word. And that is my autism website. Both websites have got done all my books are on them. And then on the livestock website I've got lots of videos on how to handle cattle, both my own videos and other people's videos that I have links to on and I tried to make them have a lot of practical information that people can use so grandin.com And then also templegrandin.com


Dr. Lynn Vartan  39:47

There's so much information on them in so many resources and and that's a great way to kind of turn into the next topic that we wanted to talk about is doing things, making things doing thinking skills. One of your books I know has projects for maybe young people who want to get involved in, in doing some goat farming and these kinds of things, all of that. So let's talk about skills and acquiring skill. 


Dr. Temple Grandin  40:16

We've got kids growing up today, totally removed from the practical. One of the worst things that some of the schools have done in some parts of the country is taking all the hands on classes out cooking, sewing, woodworking, art, music, playing musical instruments. on auto shop, welding shop, I worked with people that had large welding shops that built my equipment. Yeah. And when I look back at these people, they were undiagnosed autistic people. And they were extremely good at what they were doing. And I'm getting very concerned about losing skills. There's too many kids playing video games in the basement that ought to be out there fixing electrical wires. We also have got kids growing up not using tools. And I'm always like talking about the different kinds of minds. Yeah, the visual thinkers like me, the object visualizers we're going to be good at art, photography, mechanics, all kinds of mechanical stuff, building stuff. And animals, then your mathematical thinkers. They're good at the things like computer science, engineering and music. Now, the interesting thing that I observed working with large meatpacking plants is how the engineering work is divided up, what kind of thinker draws the entire factory might have a title of drafting. And the also makes all the mechanically clever equipment. And the degreed engineer will do boilers and refrigeration, they're more mathematical. But right now in poultry and pigs, we want to build a new processing plant. We're importing the equipment from Europe, because we took shop out 25 years ago, and we're paying for it. I am very concerned about losing skills. About three years ago, I went out and visited the Steve Jobs theater on the Apple mothership building, structural glass walls, they are from Germany, and Italy, where there's a lot of very specialized stuff that we're not making anymore, unless we'll get electronic chips. And right now they're trying to build factories for making that. But I I've been in contact some of the people in electronic chip industry. And I got a I didn't get to go on the tour of one because a COVID. But I got to see a video that most people don't ever see. And let me tie out. There's plenty of clever engineering in there for my kind of mind to work on. And we need these different types of minds. And and the skill loss thing. I am very concerned about this.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  42:41

So what advice for parents? I mean, how do we make that shift? Because I'm sure there's a lot of people listening, they go like, yeah, yeah, you're right. But I mean, how do I do that all of the pressures, and all of the exposures that my kids have are all screens, it's all TV, movies, video games. How do we get that going? 


Dr. Temple Grandin  43:02

Again, that's the reason why I did my books. I'm calling all mines, my childhood aviation projects, and they're things like little parachutes are made out of scarves, little tight side built, I had to tinker to make them work. I've got another book out for scientists, they're all things don't cost a lot of money. We've got kids growing up today, not using tools, they're not learning sewing. You know, these are things that are would not be expensive, you know, to put back in, I'm saying a kid with an autism label, building very intricate done. Trains that actually work out of Legos. And nobody had ever introduced the tool. This guy was an adult. I saw him in a very recently. You'll see this is the whole problem of label locking, right? A term that a lady a psychologist named Deborah Moore thought up label locking, right and, and these kids are going nowhere. And some people said, well, you just an old fogy in your 70s you I don't like video games. But these kids are not getting great jobs, right? They're on a disability check playing video game, right? When they ought to be building factories. And I'm very worried about things like power infrastructure. You see, the person with autism is mildly autistic, on. They love stuff like power plants, and they're gonna make sure they work. They care. And we need people that care about that sort of stuff.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  44:25

Yeah. Well, and you know, you mentioned the labels. And I know that is something that you talk about a lot. Because to be clear, you're not against the diagnosis, because that can be very helpful to people. But this label locking is where we really get into the problem.


Dr. Temple Grandin  44:41

This is why I did a book with Deborah morning navigating autism. And the main purpose of this book is prevent parents, teachers, especially ones newly going into autism and new therapists were getting so locked into the label that they can't imagine this kid's even capable of doing anything. The other thing that's a big problem is autism. Going from Elon Musk. Elon Musk has autism, but he did Einstein to be in an autism program today, no language delay straight, but then you have the ones that remain very severe. They are not going to be doing a skilled trade or, or fixing a power. On, you know, you've got this huge spectrum. Right now there's things as a visual thinker. I can't do abstract algebra. And then people symbol you need that to do some of the stuff you do. Yeah, I memorize the formulas for things like sizing air Saunders, I just memorize the formula, or let's say a veterinarian, dosing drugs you memorize those formulas on that's not algebra in the abstract that I know how to do.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  45:13

Right. So you were saying, you know you with all the algebra that's in things now that sometimes you think you might not have gotten the degrees that you have.


Dr. Temple Grandin  45:47

Think of what a graduate my school, I got into a small startup college through the back door mother pounded open the back doors, a little college only been running for two years. Thank goodness, the freshman math class was not algebra. It was actually they called it finite math, statistics, probability and matrix CS. And with a bunch tutoring, I was able to do that. And getting to statistics, I had to have a ton of tutoring. But there was a bit more stuff in that that I could visualize. And, but I'm concerned today that I wouldn't be able to graduate. But I have seen people in the meat industry get a job on the line and 15 years later, build the new plant edition. Okay. So what would I do today? I've often thought, what if someone waved a magic wand? And I was 18 years old, right? out of high school right now? Yeah. What do you think? Oh, I go, Yeah, Amazon warehouse. It's a door. And I'm going to learn every job on that line. Uh huh. And there was actually a guy with autism that went to work in Amazon warehouse, Darren having lunch with the rocket scientists. He's working on that now. Oh, that's awesome. And that the thing is, is that but you see, I have enough knowledge to see where I could go. Yeah. Now if I just worked in some little family shop. Yeah, you don't have you know, you don't have the flexibility. But what I know now, and I've seen this career path, like there's a guy called Willy Wonka and stainless steel, he has a private jet. I've been on that jet. It took me to his factory. I can't tell you where it is. Right. But we had a half an hour discussion of what diagnosis he would have been every diagnosis in the book. Yeah, yeah. Terrible student dropped out of school. Yeah, washing equipment in a food processing plant. Now he owns a gigantic plant. Yeah, jillion dollar business now.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  47:35

So for the parents who have students in school that maybe are failing or flunking out, what what advice do you have for them? Not so much for the you know, maybe their school age high school, going into college.


Dr. Temple Grandin  47:47

Let's just talking about some of the big problems, okay, getting over protected and not learning basic skills like money and shopping. Very big issue, huge issue on getting bullied. And one of the ways to deal with that is friends through shared interests. Like one of my shared interests was model rockets. Well, that was something I had to get exposed to that by the science teacher, also horses are gigantic on interest. On the other thing is some accommodations they might need. And one real simple one that I figured out is I cannot remember long strings of verbal information. And so when I started Project, meaning for a job, I'd always write down exactly what they wanted this job to do. Yeah, I said, I like to have it written down. And I've heard about people losing a good job in construction, because they got a new boss that would just tell him what to do. And they couldn't remember. They just asked the boss to text the instructions. That would have solved the problem on I have to find out exactly what the kids problem is. But I'm seeing an algebra requirement keeping a kid out of a welding class. That's totally ridiculous. Yeah, and the people I worked with are not getting replaced. And we need these people to keep factories working, build factories on, okay, we're building chip factories, there's gonna be plant jobs in there from my kind of mine. And we can't do any of the math that's for the computer people to do. But somebody asked to keep all the stuff in there that moves going.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  49:14

So you seem to have had that fire that tenacity, you know, all along. Is that Is that true? Or is that something that came later?


Dr. Temple Grandin  49:22

I had not. When I was in my 20s I had a huge motivation to prove that wasn't stupid, was a huge, huge motivation. I am going to design this fifth dip that prove I'm not stupid. And when I didn't know how to do some of the concrete reinforcement stuff, I didn't know how to draw those drawings. I got on that phone until I found somebody could send me the engineering specs for the concrete reinforcement on the dip pads. I knew the cattle handling stuff that I knew.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  49:48

Yeah. Well, that's a great inspiration to young people to just, you know, like to grab that fire, you know, to get yourself out there and to get that tenacity to move forward.


Dr. Temple Grandin  50:00

I just talked to this lady that today that's made some beautiful costume. And she should be working professionally in costume design. You got a Shakespeare Festival here. I saw stuff on her phone that could be used at the Shakespeare Festival. Well, how do you get into it? Take that phone that festival and you go around you show it to people, and to you sell a job, one job at a time. That's how you do it.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  50:25

One job at a time, one job at a time. Oh, about books of inspiration. Were there any books that were particularly meaningful to you in your journey?


Dr. Temple Grandin  50:34

Well, one thing was Norman Vincent Peale. The power positive thinking my aunt gave me that book on when I was a, you know, late teens. I also had some very good mentors on and my aunt out at the ranch. My science teacher really got me motivated. I can't emphasize enough the importance of mentors. Yeah, my mother when I was little, always, you know, when we were kids, we had to dress up in our good clothes and greet dinner guests. And I look back on that. And that was really important. Because I had the guts to walk up to the farm arrangement editor and get his card just like the movie showed it. Yeah, I actually did that. Yeah, it's Yeah. And and other people, first of all, wouldn't see the door to opportunity or they'd be too scared to go up and get the card. Now what happened? I got the card, just like the movie showed it. Off scene is true.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  51:22

Yeah. And the movie, again, is called Temple Grandin. And it's available on all streaming services. And you can find it was made by HBO. Is that right?


Dr. Temple Grandin  51:31

It's interesting. The lady that was responsible that movie is leaving Emily Gerson Sainz, mother of an autistic adult nonverbal, and she wanted to do it right. That's all she had to really work hard to get the right team of people. It shows how my visual thinking works, and shows my mentors really good. Also, all the projects shown in that movie I actually did.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  51:53

That's awesome. Well, speaking of projects, what's next for you? Or that you can talk about? Because I know you you have some projects that are under close contract, but what what what's exciting you in your research right now? 


Dr. Temple Grandin  52:06

Now we're just finishing up some like loose starting the copy editing on a book on visual thinking. Because I'm very concerned that my kind of kids were just getting addicted to video games. And we're the ones you need to fix all the stuff. What I call the clever engineering department. I'm, I was shocked in 2019. Went to beautiful brand new poultry processing plant. They said we came over and 100 shipping containers from Holland. That was a wake up call. Yeah, that's right now spot market. Shipping Containers are like 17 grand, I think the last time each. Like you gotta be kidding. Yeah. Um, that wasn't what they used to cost. No, they know. Yeah. And being a visual thinker. I see it. Yeah. And I was thinking about how we were going to ship some equipment to Australia and then designing so we could fit it in a shipping container. Yeah. You see, my mind's My mind's very associative. But I'm very worried about this. You need our visual thinkers, they're the ones who are going to make sure the wires don't fall down and start fires and all kinds of bad stuff.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  53:04

Absolutely. Well, I always we're almost at a time this hour just flew by. I always asked one last question. And the question is, what's what's turning you on this week, and it really, it can be anything, it could be a book, or a movie, or a favorite food or a song or something that you saw. And it's just a way for our listeners to get kind of a another little insight into, you know, who you are.


Dr. Temple Grandin  53:29

I talked to this lady today that was on the autism spectrum that makes beautiful costumes. I hope I've motivated her to go out and start doing a business and be successful at that. That is awesome. That's why I do these talks. Now. I've had parents come up to me and say, well, 10 years ago, my son went out and got a job. And he just blossomed. Yeah. And, and thank you.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  53:54

That reminds me of the quote that I have from you in my notes that says that you don't want your thoughts to die with you. You say I want to have done something. I'm not interested in power piles of money. I want to leave something behind. I want to make a positive contribution know that my life has meaning. 


Dr. Temple Grandin  54:09

Well, one of the things that gives life meaning is if I do something, to help a family, to have their kid get out and get a successful career that's doing that kind of stuff as meaning. You see, I'm into real stuff. Okay, I design a piece of equipment that works really well, that that something that has real meaning I'm interested in real things not abstract.


Dr. Lynn Vartan  54:35

Wonderful. Well, once again, the websites are grandin.com and templegrandin.com. And so many books, I mean, that are just absolutely fantastic. And just to close, I just want to say thank you so much for spending this time with me. It's been such an honor to talk to you.


Dr. Temple Grandin  54:53

Well, thank you so much for having me. 


Dr. Lynn Vartan  54:55

All right, everyone. We'll we'll see you next time. And here we Are Saying goodbye from the apex our thanks so much for listening to the apex hour here on KSUU us under 91.1. Come find us again next Thursday at 3pm for more conversations with the visiting guests at Southern Utah University, and new music to discover for your next playlist, and in the meantime, we would love to see you at our events on campus. To find out more, check out suu.edu/apex Until next week, this is Lynn Vartan saying goodbye from the apex our here on thunder 91.1