This movie is based on a true story about a remarkable woman and her mother who never gave up. Claire Danes plays Temple Grandin, a woman with autism, in an age where most people like her were put in an institution and forgotten about. However Temple's mother knew her daughter was capable of more than society gave her credit for. With unfailing hard work, devotion, and tough love, she taught her daughter to read, to attend regular classes at school, verbalize and share her unique way of thinking.
As Temple grows, she experiences unkind people at school and sexism at work. Despite this, she uses her talents to eventually earn a PhD and revolutionize the slaughterhouse industry, creating more humane and comfortable ways of treating animals. She also uses her insightful way of verbalizing to share how autistic people think and why we should appreciate this difference.
What I really love about this movie is how clearly it shows how wonderful Temple's way of thinking is and her unique contributions to the world. I love that it helped my children see other autistic people around us not as "less than", but "differently talented"--with a lot of value that they can add to the world. I also loved that it helped them to see that casual unkindness or dismissal is still unkind--even if it is not deliberately mean spirited and hateful. It made all of us think about how we treat people around us who are different. I am so grateful for movies like this that help us to see other viewpoints and appreciate those around us.
*Note: as always, please check the content of this and other movies at www.commonsensemedia.org or kids-in-mind.com before you watch it to make sure you feel it is appropriate for your family. There is one scene in particular where Temple does something very innocent, but other people misinterpret it and make it ugly.
Family Discussion/Activity Guide:
-Watch the real Temple Grandin in this Ted talk.
-Discuss other autistic people you know. What are some of their special talents? If you don't know, perhaps arrange an activity where you can get to know each other better.
-What was Temple very good at?
-What stood in the way of other people appreciating her?
-Why are we sometimes uncomfortable, or even scared, when we are around people who are different than we are?
-How can we appreciate everyone around us and help our friends to enjoy them, too?
Community Question: Please share some of the talents of the autistic people you know. We love hearing about their unique contributions!
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