If you watched the Golden Globes this past Sunday, did you notice the poignant moment between actress Claire Danes and Temple Grandin? I did. I noticed every single interaction between them. Why? Because I was watching those moments like a hawk. You see, Claire Danes won Best Actress in a Mini-Series for her portrayal of Temple Grandin, one of the most impressive autism advocates on the planet. A woman who happens to be autistic herself.
After Claire won, she and Temple hugged and that one instance brought tears to my eyes. You could see the excitement on Temple’s face. She was happy and she was relating and she was responding. When you know someone autistic, you understand how wonderful it is to see them experiencing simple emotions we all take for granted.
My older son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Today he’s a well-adjusted 6-year-old who continues to make progress every day. This is why Claire’s award was so moving to me. Not only was I seeing the amazing progress Temple has made in her own life, but I see the future for my own child.
One of the most compelling things I heard while flipping between the Golden Globes and the season premier of Big Love, was Claire’s acceptance speech. She started off admitting, “It’s a risky movie to make.” The word “risky” resonated in my mind. I can’t say with certainty why she used that term, but I know exactly what she means.
She continued by saying, “I have to thank Temple. She’s still at it, she’s still working with incredible zeal and devotion to illuminate mysteries about autism and animal behavior.” And then Claire used two words I will never forget. She thanked Temple for helping, “millions of lives who have been dignified and improved by your genius.”
Hearing those two words used together in a sentence – dignified – genius – to describe someone with autism, was a beautiful thing. And it’s totally true. If you haven’t see the movie Temple Grandin, you must see it. If you know anyone with autism, it is absolutely imperative. The movie brings autism to light in a way that actually lets you see it. The pictures, the reality, the perceived reality. The unbelievable courage and devotion Temple’s mother exhibited should be an inspiration to every mom, whether you have an autistic child or not.
Plus, the genius of Temple is undeniable. The dignity she has brought to autism is undeniable. While I haven’t won a Golden Globe award and most assuredly never will, I would like to thank Temple too. I would also like to thank Claire for boiling it all down into a brief speech so poetically. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.