Temple Grandin, a woman of inspiration and power is someone who has not only been revolutionary in the field of autism but has also changed the way animals are handled, fed and humanly treated. We are inspired by her savant ability to see how things work and her innate spiritual connection with animals. That connection brought forth an awareness that inspired Temple to tune into her own specific needs as it related to self-regulation. As a result, she was able to obtain her PhD and become a professor of animal science. In addition, she is a national speaker and consultant on the topics of autism and animal behavior. Today, half the cattle in the United States are handled in facilities she has designed. She has also changed perceptions on autism which is miraculous for someone who was nonverbal as a child and labeled “retarded”.
Secondly, Eunice Shriver for creating the Special Olympics in the late 1960’s. In fact, the first games were held in 1968. A time when many families who had a child with disabilities were told by their doctors, to give the child up to the state and never look back. Eunice’ perspective of her sister and others with developmental disabilities was one that many probably thought was crazy, literally! Her courage, love and devotion to her sister gave her the ability to see the humanity in everyone. More importantly, that love and devotion is stronger than ever 50 years later. We at Ability Specialists often think about the naysayers in 1968 and laugh at the absurdity of it all. Today most people would agree that it’s crazy to advise parents to lock their child up in an institution and walk away as if they didn’t exist just because they aren’t “normal”. Eunice was ahead of her time and we are thankful for her courage to stand up to the status quo.