Expert Voices

The Experimenters: Temple Grandin on the Autistic Brain

David Gerlach is the executive producer of "Blank on Blank," which brings new life to classic interviews, and the founder of Quoted Studios, a nonprofit dedicated to animated journalism. This original text highlights the video about Temple Grandin that originally appeared at "Blank on Blank." He contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

You've probably heard the story that Einstein, whose name is synonymous with genius, didn't seem destined for much when he was a small child. He was years behind other children when it came to learning to talk, he did horribly in school. It seems that Einstein's brain just worked differently than most other people's. Today a lot of people think Einstein was probably autistic — one person who would agree is Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is a professor of animal sciences who's worked in the meat industry to invent kinder ways to lead cattle to slaughter. She also has autistim, the high-functioning version known as Asperger's syndrome. Autism is a brain disorder that tends to affect people's social skills, like the ability to read facial expressions and body language. But it can also mean extraordinary talent in math, music and the visual arts. Temple Grandin has become something of a celebrity of autism. She's written books, given TED talks, and she's traveled around the world to speak on the subject. [Autism Truths and Myths: The State of the Science (Op-Ed)]

If you're a topical expert — researcher, business leader, author or innovator — and would like to contribute an op-ed piece, email us here.

We found this interview in the holdings of Colorado State University, where Grandin teaches. In this conversation, she's at her best, explaining for the rest of us what it's really like to have an autistic brain and how Einstein's not the only genius who could have been dismissed for being different. She even believes Silicon Valley may never have happened without the autistic brain. This is the latest episode in our special miniseries, The Experimenters. We're bringing to life lost interviews with the icons of science, technology and innovation — people who helped make the world we live in today. 

Upcoming episodes will feature Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sagan and Dame Stephanie Shirley. Learn more at

Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science .

Blank on Blank