Monday, August 30, 2010

Why All the Emmy Love for Temple Grandin Was Awesome

I need to interrupt my four cranky kids (8 days until school starts - YES!), two deadline copyediting assignments and my general WordNerdGirl-ing to take a sec and talk about all the love shown to -- and by -- Temple Grandin at last night's Emmy's.

Temple Grandin has long been a rock star in the autism community, and last night, she proved why. She's been a symbol of hope for people with autism and their caregivers (in some ways, even more so for the latter.) So seeing all the recognition for the HBO biopic chronicling her life, and all the affection heaped on her by the award honorees, didn't just honor her and the movie, but also gave a nod to everyone who has been affected by this disorder. (My 8-year-old is PDD-NOS. As the film's director described Grandin last night, he used many of the same adjectives I use to describe my son.)

But even more importantly, last night, Grandin also managed to dispel for millions of TV viewers one of the most hurtful and longstanding myths about autism: People with autism can feel love. They can show affection. And they are not just "autistics." They're people -- full and complete. Decked out in her quirky, country-western regalia, she enthusiastically (and in a "socially inappropriate" manner) stood and waved from her seat in the audience, interrupted one of the honorees to give a shout-out to her mom and -- most movingly -- effusively hugged the film's executive producer. She not only dispelled the myth that autistic people are withdrawn, but -- even for the most severely-afflicted -- she also showed that it is possible for autistic people to engage and contribute to the world, in ways big and small. And she did all that just by being herself.

Referenced links: Temple Grandin Wins Big at Emmy, but Who Is She?; Temple Grandin's Official Autism Website

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