Temple Grandin Brings Her Celebrity Status and Autism Advocacy to The Arc’s National Convention

WASHINGTON, DC – Dr. Temple Grandin, whose life and work inspired the award-winning HBO biopic starring Claire Danes, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s national convention of The Arc, the country’s leading and largest organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Dr. Grandin, who has autism, is one of the top scientists developing groundbreaking methods for more humane handling of livestock.  She is renowned for her design of animal handling facilities – currently, half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she designed. Dr. Grandin has also developed animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consults with McDonalds, Wendy’s International, Burger King, and other companies on animal welfare. She is a professor and researcher at Colorado State University, and was honored in Time Magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

At age two, Dr. Grandin was non-verbal, and exhibited all the signs of severe autism. Through intensive teaching and speech therapy, she learned to speak. As a child growing up on an Arizona ranch with her aunt, and with the guidance of a high school science teacher, Dr. Grandin was motivated to pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer.

“Dr. Grandin’s appearance at The Arc’s national convention is sure to inspire the hundreds of members, staff, volunteers, families and individuals with I/DD that will gather in Denver in September. This convention comes at a critical time in our efforts to reinvigorate our movement and grow The Arc,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

In addition to Dr. Grandin, other celebrities in the disability community will be on hand, including actress Lauren Potter from Glee and Dr. David Braddock, the force behind the “State of the States” report on disability issues. The 2011 Convention will take place in Denver, Colorado, September 16 – 18, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.