Conversations on Healing

Dr. Temple Grandin

Brain Variability and the Importance of Thinking Differently

Dr. Temple Grandin
Professor of Animal Science, Colorado State University

Dr. Temple Grandin is a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and she is a driving force behind the implementation of animal welfare and auditing programs used by restaurants like Whole Foods, Wendy’s and McDonalds to name a few. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in September 2017 and in 2022 was named a Colorado State University Distinguished Professor. She has been featured on many different shows including Larry King Live, 20/20, and Prime Time.

In today’s episode, host Shay Beider welcomes Temple Grandin as they discuss brain variability, the school system and label locking. Temple talks about the different patterns of thinking, including visual, verbal and auditory, and the importance of understanding how these work together and individually. Temple discusses how to help children who struggle with sensory overload and how to implement different strategies to regain a sense of control. Finally, she shares personal experiences from her teenage years and how she was able to overcome bullying by finding friends who shared her interests and work that stimulated her.

Show Notes:

Introduction (00:02): Welcome to the “Conversations on Healing Podcast”, where host Shay speaks with renowned healthcare leaders, practitioners, and thought leaders to explore the world of wellness, the incredible powers of self-care, and what it truly means to heal today. Join us on this journey to become more whole healed and connected.

Shay Beider (00:32): Hi everyone, it’s Shay here, and welcome back to the “Conversations on Healing Podcast”. Today we have a very exciting guest, Temple , a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Temple was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in September 2017, and in 2022 was named a Colorado State University Distinguished Professor. Temple has designed facilities for handling livestock for McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Whole Foods, and other large companies. She has appeared on numerous TV shows such as 2020, Larry King Live, and Primetime. Temple’s books, “Animals in Translation” and “Visual Thinking” have been on the New York Times bestseller list. In this episode, Temple and I talk about the importance of brain variability and incorporating visual thinking into the workplace to avoid skill loss and missed opportunities. She describes how our system as a whole may not be supporting children with autism and their unique ways of thinking and contributing to the world. Specifically, we discussed the school system and the lack of shop classes, trade schools, and hands-on learning. The best approach to success as shared by Temple is to create teams with multiple types of thinkers who can tap into their strengths. Her particular strength is visual thinking, and so we touch on some of the important assets of that specific form of brain variability. This will be an impactful episode as is the speaker for both autism and animal behavior, and I’m very excited to share our conversation with you.

(02:32): Temple. I wanna thank you so much for joining me for the “Conversations on Healing Podcast” today. And I thought it would be useful to start with this idea of brain variability. And I’ve heard you describe four different types of brain variability and ways of thinking, and I’ve heard those as visual, pattern thinking, verbal thinking, and auditory thinking. Feel free to frame that in any way that you think is best and share a little more with our listeners.

Dr. Temple Grandin (03:00): Okay. Well, in my new book, “Visual Thinking” I, I discussed the different brain types and I discuss the science behind the different brain types. There’s research to back up what I’m saying. Now I do work as animal behavior, I design livestock equipment and I’m the brain type that is an object visualizer. Everything I think about is a photo realistic picture, and people that have my kind of brain type are good at things like mechanical things, animals, photography and art. Then the other kind of thinker is the visual spatial pattern, mathematical thinker, mathematics, chemistry, computer programming, music. Then yet people that think of words, verbal thinkers, and then there’s some people that much prefer auditory. In fact, in the last few years, about a third of my book royalties for other books are all coming in as audio books. That’s a format that’s getting very, very popular. And one thing I’m very interested in is I wanna see people that think differently, get into good careers. This is something I think’s really, really important and I get concerned that sort of a one size fits all, um, you know, kind of way of teaching and education is screening out some of the visual thinkers like me who have difficulty with algebra. And I worked with lots of brilliant skilled tradespeople, can’t do algebra, had multiple patents owned metal fabrication shops, and a good number of them were probably either autistic, dyslexic, or ADHD. And one of the problems we got today is these people who are retiring. Who’s gonna fix elevators in the future?

Shay (04:47): And I know you feel our educational system, uh, has had some losses there in terms of not having things like shop or just very practical kinds of hands-on opportunities to play with things, to interact with materials directly because we’ve focused so much on screens. Do you wanna speak a little bit to that?

Temple (05:04): Well, I’m concerned that we’re losing skills. Right before Covid shut everything down, I went to four different places and I was shocked about some of the stuff we’re not making anymore. And the reason for that is we’ve taken out the shop classes, see in Europe, when a kid gets to be about ninth grad and decide to go to the university route or go the tech route. And there’s a tendency here to think the tech routes for the stupid kids. I can tell you they’re not the stupid kids. Visual problem solving is a different type of problem solving, you know, and the educators that don’t realize this, they’ve never worked with big industrial stuff. I spent 25 years in heavy industrial construction. Most educators haven’t been near any of that stuff. And that’s what I base a lot of my observations on.

Shay (05:52): Right. Um, and you’ve also done a lot of work in your life to relate some of these ideas to autism.

Temple (05:59): That’s right.

Shay (06:00): And some, uh, brain variability with individuals that have autism and how we can actually see some of the assets and how that can create, um, strengths in certain areas. Like you’re suggesting to notice certain things that people whose brain has developed in a different way might not see notice or understand. So I’d like to hear you talk about what you see as, um, some of those differences in some of the advantages.

Temple (06:29): Well, I talk about the optic visualizer and then the more mathematical visual spatial thinker. And when you got a label, autism learning difficulty, ADHD or dyslexia or something like that, the person tends to be more extreme. Most people are mixtures of the different kinds of thinking. But people that will label might be an extreme object visualizer. You can have autism come in in an extreme object visualizer form, like me can’t do algebra. But you also get an autistic person that is an extreme mathematical thinker, and they are the ones that give us this technology that we’re using right now. Give us this computer and this zoom program that we’re using. You see, if you didn’t have some autistic brain, we wouldn’t even have this computer system that we’re communicating on right now. And the thing is, we need the different kinds of minds. Let’s go back to the meat processing plant where I’ve done the most work. And when I was writing visual thinking, I went back to all these projects that I’d worked on for every major meat company over the years. And I found a very interesting division of engineering labor. The people who couldn’t do the algebra that took just the single welding class, they were working out in the shop, inventing and building, inventing and patenting complicated mechanical equipment. And then your university trained engineer was doing the more mathematical parts, boilers, refrigeration, power, water requirements. You see, you need the whole team.

Shay (08:02): Right. I wanna talk a little bit about labels. Um, I know in your book you have, um, a section that talks about how we can put people in sort of the disability box and how that can be very harmful in the long run. And so I wanna get your take on, um, why and when that might be a detriment to use some of the labels.

Temple (08:27): Well, you need to have labels, you know, to get services from the schools, to get insurance to pay for stuff. But one of the problems is what I call label locking. I have another book called “Navigating Autism” I did with Deborah Moore and she invented the term label locking and then, then kind of a mindset forms that the kid can’t do anything. And, and now if you take out all the shop classes, all the art classes, music classes, theater classes, home ec cooking, all that stuff, you take all that stuff out, you, you now have taken out places where a kid could really show off their skills. And I’m seeing label locking where a parent doesn’t think the kid can do anything. I’m seeing fully verbal autistic kids doing well in school, never gone shopping, they’ve never done laundry, they haven’t learned bank account. They’re just not learning basic skills because the parents overprotect them to the point where they’re not learning at anything. I, I’m absolutely appalled at the amount of fully verbal teenagers with an autism label who have never gone in a store and bought something by themselves, never ordered their own food at the McDonald’s counter. I wish I didn’t have to talk about this kind of stuff, but I’m finding I do. I was just out at an autism conference the other night and this teenage boy had never ordered food in a restaurant and he had never bought something in a store by himself. This is ridiculous. And where I’m seeing some of the biggest problems is making the transition to work. Then you start learning work skills at around 11, like a volunteer job on a schedule outside the home where somebody else is the boss. They could be walking somebody else’s dog. It could be church volunteer job, farmer’s market volunteer job, somebody outside the, uh, family needs to be the boss.

Shay (10:16): Right. And I’ve also heard you mention that video game playing can negatively impact this too, where people kind of get so focused on the games that they’re not developing some of those other skills like interacting in the world, getting things done, doing the paper route.

Temple (10:32): I wish these kids that were playing all these video games got wonderful jobs in the video game industry, but that’s not happening. They’re ending up playing video games on disability check, and I’ll tell you how to get ’em off the games. There’s been some successes with car mechanics. It’s been one of the few things that’s actually been successful in getting young adults off video games. And they discover motors are more interesting than video games that has actually worked. And one of the guys is, uh, repairing trains now and the railroad loves them. I don’t play video games because I know how addictive they are. Yeah. You know, it, it is just that, that simple. Now I’m not suggesting to be totally banned because for some autistic individuals, those multiplayer games where they talk to each other is one avenue to have friends. But you’ve got to limit the time. They cannot be doing it for six and seven hours a day.

Shay (11:27): Right. Absolutely.

Temple (11:28): You’ve got to limit the time.

Shay (11:30): Yeah. You’ve also discussed Temple that there are, um, certain crossovers that you’ve seen between autism and dyslexia. And I’m interested to hear what you have learned is in common with the two.

Temple (11:47): Well, the same thing with ADHD. There’s about, about a third of the ADHD is symptoms crossover. And one of the crossover areas is sensory sensitivity. That is one of the crossover areas. Sound sensitivity, scratchy clothes bother you, some individuals have visual sensitivity problems where LED lights flicker and it drives ’em crazy. And one of the ways to find the bad ones that flicker is to take pictures with slow motion video. And I’d wave when you do that. So when you play it back, you play it back and you wanna make sure you play it back in slow motion and you can find the bad LED lights, the flicker. Now they don’t bother me. This is where sensory issues are very, very individual specific, but they are a real issue. And problems with multitasking and sensory overload can be an issue. Um, you know, I want somebody starting their first job. There’s certain chaotic jobs like takeout windows that I wanna avoid and get into jobs that are, you know, calmer and less multitasking.

Shay (12:49): Right. And there’s also an article that you’ve talked about that ask the question, are autism and schizophrenia the steep price of a human brain?

Temple (12:59): Yeah, that’s the, Autism, schizophrenia, the steep price for human brain. You see, when the, um, brain grows, we have to make tons of stem cells to grow this gigantic computer. We’ve got setting up on top. Now you get overgrowth of cells that tends to be autism. Schizophrenia can be undergrowth of cells, and then when the person gets into adolescents, the network starts to fail. They’re kind of opposite conditions neurologically. But building a big brain is kind of a messy proposition. And there’s a point where autism is just a continuous trait. It’s a personality variant. It’s mildest forums being slightly nerdy and socially awkward is a personality trait. But the problem is, is we got a label that goes from Einstein who had no speech and light trait. He’d be in an autism program today to somebody that cannot dress themselves. So you’ve got a huge spectrum with the same name. And this is an example of verbal thinkers overgeneralizing, verbal thinkers tend to overgeneralize, have big, broad concepts. Well, that’s an example of a concept that’s just way too broad.

Shay (14:04): I’ve also heard you apply this to, uh, bipolar, and I’ve heard you mention that this brain variability, just like it, um, impacts each of the conditions you’ve just described is also there for people who have bipolar. And that often they tend to be more, uh, successful in careers that are highly creative.

Temple (14:22): They tend to be creative, they tend to be creative, where the autistic, uh, relatives tend to go into tech fields. So when the slightly moody become bipolar, there’s no absolute black and white dividing line. That’s, that’s the thing. You know, these things are, you know, continuous traits. Now the thing is, when you put a label on something, especially the verbal thinkers tend to make that a category with hard boundaries. And autism is truly continuous when to slightly socially awkward deserve an autism label. If you would take half the population of all the people, about half the population would drift towards the autism side where they’re less social. And the other half would drift towards a more social emotional side. ranging from barely noticeable to severe.

Shay (15:12): Right. So that understanding of this all living on a spectrum and that our language is incredibly limited by placing a singular label of autism, um, without more advanced distinctions and differentiation is not particularly useful.

Temple (15:28): Well, you’re saying I need labels for, but what I, you know, for services, but the problem I’m seeing is I’m seeing too many kids held back.

Shay (15:36): Mm-hmm. . So your concern is we’re not teaching that to young children.

Temple (15:40): Not teaching these things. Now, now some schools are starting to put some of these things back in and see the difference between Europe is they don’t, they don’t stick their nose up at it and kind of look at it as a lesser intelligence. So that’s why Holland has got the state-of-the-art electronic chip making machine, and we don’t, and that is a high wage country. They cannot make that, that machine cheaply. They make it because they still have got both the math thinkers and the people like me who can’t do algebra working on making that machine.

Shay (16:12): Right. You’ve discussed some of these ideas as well, temple in the context of AI or artificial intelligence and how that’s using kind of bottom up thinking and that’s what drives the outcomes. And you share that visual thinkers like yourself are good at bottom up thinking.

Temple (16:30): Yeah its bottom up thinking that’s AI’s all bottom up thinking. Like, let’s say a simple AI program. This is a rule somewhat to diagnose melanoma skin cancers. So the way that’s trained is you show it 2000 melanomas and then 2000, 3000 mosquito bites other all kinds of skin rashes and it learns to categorize. That’s the most simple. Now, in order for me to be good at designing things, I have to have a lot of design information in the database. So I would travel around every feed yard in Arizona and work cattle hands. That’s what I did when I first started, because you gotta load information into that database. And then the older I get and the more things I went out and I saw the more stuff in my database. And when I got in my late thirties, I go, oh boy. Now I’m really starting able to think. Now, if you don’t get out and do lots of things, then you don’t put new information into the database.

Shay (17:27): So that’s critical. And so when you think about the context of what we’re discussing, that we have parents today who are raising children, who are now being given a label of autism that are in a world that has less of these kind of hands-on practical skills in the school. Um, what do you think would be significant to tell those parents from your perspective about how they can best support their child growing up?

Temple (17:58): All right, let’s, I’m gonna, let’s say we’re dealing with like seven and eight years old and up and they’re fully verbal. Let’s say I’m gonna deal with that segment, get ’em out doing things. They got two books I did just for kids at Betsy Leonard and I put together “Calling All Minds” little Kite and parachute projects that I spent hours tinkering with. “The Outdoor Scientist”, let’s go out and observe animals. Let’s look at stars, uh, collect seashells and make stuff out of it. Um, look at rocks, uh, get out doing things. Nothing is in, in those books as expensive, even in the city. Well, pigeons are interesting to observe. And I have an animal behavior, uh, activity in there. You pick a focal animal. So if you’re in New York City, you would pick a pigeon that you could recognize and you watch it for four hours and you see what it does. That’s called an ethogram It costs nothing to do. We gotta get kids off of the electronics and get them out doing a lot more things. Because I’m not seeing these kids have good outcomes. That’s the problem. They’re not getting great jobs. I’ve also had parents say when they finally got their kid out into a good job, he blossomed or she bloomed. That’s because they’re getting out and they’re experiencing more things. And you’re loading more information in the database. All right, let’s say you just play some video games all day. You get really good at that video game, but you don’t get good doing anything else. Get them out doing things and then kids are afraid to do new things. Well, you give a choice. We can go to Walmart or Target. Yeah. Give them some limited choice. We can go to McDonald’s or Burger King, give them some limited choice. Also with some of the sensory issues sometimes sound sensitive, be reduced. If you take the thing they hate, like the vacuum cleaner and let the child turn it on and off where they control it, they control that vacuum cleaner that can sometimes help desensitize it. Or if they’re wearing headphones all the time. The problem is if you wear headphones all the time, it makes sound sensitivity worse. That’s the problem. But you can have ’em with you all the time and carry them with you. That gives you control. And then put them on for just the really, really bad stuff. Like all these bathrooms, all these hand dryers and flushers going on all at once. Okay, that’d be a place where you’d put it on to go in, I call it industrial strength bathrooms. And then you take it off when you come out.

Shay (20:30): Right. Smart use, there’s an article that I’ve heard you, um, talk about. It’s on enriched sensory motor environments.

Temple (20:39): Yeah. That, that’s called environmental enrichment is an effective treatment for autism. It’s a paper, then you can find the paper if you type an environmental enrichment is an effective treatment for autism and it’s designed as an adjunct, other therapies. And it was done mostly with kids under 12. But what you do is very simple. You stimulate two senses at the same time, like maybe smell cinnamon and touch a cold water glass. You’re always going across modalities with a lot of emphasis on smell and touch. You might listen to classical music and uh, and touch rough carpet sample. It’s, it’s simple things like that. And I think what it does is help desensitize. That uses simple household things. Now, since it was a research experiment, they had a protocol for exactly what to do. You can probably vary that som, but you always go across modalities with touch, smell or balance being one of the things. And balance you do very simply, you take a two by four and you nail it to the floor, and then they gotta walk the type rope on it.

Shay (21:44): And is it typically two things at a time?

Temple (21:46): Two things at a time.

Shay (21:47): Two things at a time.

Temple (21:48): Things at a time. Like classical music and maybe walk the type rope on the two by four, or you’re, uh, touching a cold water glass. Another thing they did is took warm and cold spoons and rubbed it over the, over the person’s back. It was simple stuff, nothing expensive. And it was short, 10 or 15 minutes twice a day. And I, and it, is an evidence-based method and it’s something that people can easily do.

Shay (22:20): Yeah. And I looked at that state, it looked like they worked with three to 12 year old children. That was,

Temple (22:26): They worked with. Uh, now whether we work on adults, I don’t know, but I always like simple things that people can do. Like have the headphones with you. Uh, one family told me their kid was terrified of sirens and they took him down at the fire station and he got to turn it on. That helped him get over it.

Shay (22:45): Hmm. Brilliant. Yeah. You’ve mentioned a few times this sense of control over the things that are scary or too loud or disturbing to the sensory system. So talk to me about why do you think that sense of master or control is so beneficial?

Temple (23:02): I think it reduces the startle response because let’s say I’m at the airport and the door alarm goes off, it, it’s a big startle response. Now I can tolerate that now. Um, I don’t like it. And if I’m on the phone, I have to end the phone calls. There’s no way I can hear with all that noise. I still can’t hear when there’s a lot of background noise I cannot hear. I still have that, I’m functionally deaf when there’s background noise that’s just terrible. But by, if the child or the adult turns the vacuum cleaner on or some horn or some other thing they don’t like, they control it. You see, they know the instant it will turn off. That helps reduce this overactive startle response. And then let’s get on scratchy clothes. Let’s wash everything that goes against the skin. I still do that and give the child some choices. And I find pants have to be washed at least twice and there’s some pants that itch no matter what. I’ve been having very good luck with Walmart. I can also tell you there’s stuff’s better quality. You go to the trendy little stores and stuff just wears out. No, I’ve had real good luck with Walmart. And you would take the child in there, let ’em pick out, feel the different pants. So it’s choice. And then even the best pants I find even now, they have to be washed twice before I can wear them on an airplane because that’s where itchy pants are the worst. And I still have that problem. And then a lot of other clothes, I wear t-shirts under them. And there’s some t-shirts to itch and they’re cheap, rough cotton. But let the child go. Let them feel things. Yes. You, you know, you’re not gonna have no clothes, but uh, you give ’em some choice. Let’s figure out how to make a simple thing we can do to see. I just see it.

Shay (24:54): And you’ve had the opportunity to live a number of years on the planet now. You’ve been here for some time. You’ve gone through different generations, like you said, you’ve seen changes in the educational system, you’ve seen obviously changes in your work with animals. You’ve seen changes in the field of autism. You’ve seen changes across many sectors. When you look today at the way your brain processes information and how you see the world, what do you see as the most helpful thing that you could share with others about sort of the benefits of being a visual thinker?

Temple (25:32): Well, there’s some real benefits. There’s certain things I can do really well. I can just see how things work. In my book, “Visual Thinking”, I have a whole chapter on disasters and I looked into the Boeing Max crashes and I also looked into the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. And these started with visual thinking mistakes. The mathematical engineers at Fukushima did a wonderful job making it earthquake proof. They shook it and shook it, and it was all fine. 20 minutes later, tsunami came over, the seawall flooded the site drowned the electric emergency cooling pump. And I go, why didn’t you have watertight doors? You see, what I’ve learned is the mathematician doesn’t see it. They don’t see it. Simple watertight doors. It would not have happened. Yeah. You need the person who can’t do algebra to say, hey, we need some watertight doors.

Shay (26:27): And so this becomes very important to the composition of teams, to have different types of thinkers on the same teams

Temple (26:33): And recognized. This is something I tell business leaders all the time and recognize what the different kinds of thinkers can do and how you, and they need to real, the teams need to realize there’s different kinds of thinking.

Shay (26:47): Right. Because this podcast is also a conversation on healing. When you think about in your own life the things that maybe you have suffered and also healed from, what do you identify as your pathway to healing or pathways to healing?

Temple (27:04): The worst part of my life was teenage years. Bullying. Absolutely the worst part of my life. And the only thing that kept me going was friends through shared interests. And for me in high school, it was horses, model rockets and electronics. For some other kid it might be band. Friends through shared interests. I also had some excellent teachers, excellent teachers, excellent mentors. And when I was a teenager, there was my aunt out at the ranch. There was Mr. Carlock, my science teacher, who gave me interesting projects that got me motivated to study. Cause I was not a motivated student. I was a terrible student, didn’t care about school. He had to make studying be a pathway to a goal. I really wanna thank these mentors. And the interesting thing is they were not health professionals. In fact, Carlock wasn’t even a trained teacher. He was a NASA space scientist and kind of an inventor guy. That’s what he was. And Anne was just, um, out on a ranch. She was actually a literature major. And then a contractor helped me who had just gotten out of the military. Um, uh, a former Marine Corps captain. He recognized my abilities after he saw my drawings. When you’re weird, you’d gotta learn how to sell your work. You show off drums. Nope. They, they, these were the kind of people that were most helpful. My third grade teacher, my mother had a real good sense of how hard to push me.

Shay (28:38): Right. Friendships, mentors, teachers, they were the ones who were the most helpful

Temple (28:42): Well, and I remember when I had a horrible scary eye surgery. And as I got into my twenties, my anxiety worsened and worsened and worsened and worsened and, a rancher friend of mine and she also had eye real serious eye problems, you know, where there’s a risk of blindness. And I spent the weekend with her. I mean, that was essential for me to get through. She was a rancher and she was really helpful in helping me get through that. You know, these, these, these kind of things are really, really super important. The other thing on anxiety, and I just do that, talk about this in detail and “Thinking In Pictures”, which I just put a new afterward on it two years ago. I’ve been on antidepressants for 40 years. They saved me as I got into my twenties. This is where my nervous system was really messed up. A fear center three times bigger than normal, just overreacted. Oh. I got, uh, you know, some weird notice in the mailbox and I’m freaking out over it, over nothing. And then what the medication did is it ramped down my nervous system. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t found that medication colitis was tearing me apart. That’s why I was eating yogurt and jello in the movie. Within two weeks after going on the desipramine. On the on, it was actually imipramine first the colitis cleared up because my nervous system was no longer in a constant state of stress. I’ve been on that drug for 40 years.

Shay (30:18): Temple, what do you think about some of the tools that are being used today? Like meditation or mindfulness to help to calm or dampen the nervous systme reponse?

Temple (30:26): I think that can be really helpful. Most things can be helpful. In fact, what I did, you know, was in my twenties is Star Trek would come on every afternoon at four and I made sure I was home to watch it. That helped me to just chill out. That was helpful. But the thing is, my nervous system was so ramped up into fear that is. And as I got in my late twenties, it got worse and worse and worse. No, this was pure biology. That’s why the chapter that’s in “Thinking In Pictures” is called believer in biochemistry. It’s the old slogan. I think it’s from DuPont better living through chemistry. Well, it, it, um, I, I couldn’t believe the difference. In fact, I resisted the idea of taking medication, but then when I had the stressful eye surgery and that really got my nervous system in an uproar and I went on the medication and I’m going, oh, better living through chemistry. Now I wanna emphasize kids are given way too many drugs. I’m taking one little med also as an adult, when I started taking it, I was not a little kid. And the information and “Thinking In Pictures” is still accurate even though it’s 25 years old, the meds haven’t changed. No. Things like mindfulness and stuff like that can be really helpful. I’ve had a student that was having some issues and I said, medication works on the primitive emotional centers of the brain. Medication works on the bottom of the brain. Anything you do in therapy or meditation or something like that, that works on the top of the brain and it’s most effective to hit the bottom and the top of the brain at the same time. You do both. Yeah. And this student was doing some therapy and I told her that she needed to keep doing her therapy, but she’s also taking some antidepressants for anxiety. And you do both. The other thing that’s essential for me is exercise. And I’ve reduced the sugar. I’m not eating tons of sugar. All soda is removed from my diet.

Shay (32:26): Just simply because you found that to be very beneficial.

Temple (32:29): I went to Google and I typed in aspartame and weight gain. I didn’t like what I read. So I gave up the Diet Coke and a bunch of weight came off and I could get some shirts back on. And I value wearing some of my western shirts more than I value drinking Diet Coke. So I just gave it up. I don’t touch aspartame now, but on the other hand, I’m not a purist. Ugh. These aren’t organic raspberries. I’m gonna freak out cuz I’m not organic raspberries. I, I’m not a purist. I’m sort of like, just real practical about it.

Shay (33:03): One of the questions I wanted to ask you Temple is around you talk about these different ways of thinking, right? The way that the brain works, how we process information, I certainly understand and relate to all of those different elements that you describe in my life if I were to say, how do I process the world primarily, right? And I, I process it in each of the ways that you describe in your book, but how my strongest form of processing is actually feeling. Um, in that I feel into experiences, I feel into things. Um, and for me that actually it’s so strong in my developmental system that I’ve learned, there’s certain things I just don’t wanna subject myself to. Like I won’t watch a lot of, um, TV or movies because a lot of those stories are things I don’t wanna feel into.

Temple (34:01): Well, and I look at review, reading reviews and some movie is really gonna be nasty. Uh, reading review is not the same as, see I don’t need to go to that movie. I’ll read the reviews and go, ick, I’m not going to that. I don’t want that crap on my hard drive. See, and for me it’s pictures.

Shay (34:19): So a question that I wanna ask you is how do you understand the relationship between thinking and feeling?

Temple (34:26): Well, you see, for me, fear is my main emotion. And you know, I intellectually figure out a lot of things. Like when Covid was going on, you know, fortunately ag was considered essential. So I was still able to do some stuff, but I didn’t fly on a plane for a year. I didn’t dare not at my age, but I got to thinking, well I’m still doing things. Um, uh, I’ve got a good place to live. And I had to, I had to do a little cognitive therapy on myself and go, the glass is half full, not half empty. Most all my students, uh, took it really rough. I think for some of the students, you know, the teenagers and the, the, the students in their twenties, I think Covid set them back more and set back same seniors. Cuz I got thinking, what if I was in my twenties right when I was getting my career started Covid shut everything down. Boy, I would’ve thought the world was coming to an end. You know, and I think some of the younger people took it really hard. The other thing is I read and I read and I read and, and as soon as I got vaccinated, I go, let’s go to the airport. After I got my second Pfizer shot, got home, booked a plane ticket for three weeks later for one event that was not canceled, that was contingent on whether I was fully vaccinated. I called him, I said fully vaccinated. I just bought the plane ticket. That was my response to getting vaccinated. It reduced my fear to have knowledge gonna get back out there and I’m not gonna worry about the breakthrough infections.

Shay (36:12): When you think temple about what, what is the next book you wanna write? Do you have an idea of what your next story is you wanna tell?

Temple (36:22): Well, I’m just kind of not sure. Um, right now I’m, I want to get people out reading my “Visual Thinking” book, because I’m very concerned about skill loss. The other thing I’m very, very concerned about is kids with labels going nowhere and I wanna see the kids that are different get into really good jobs and we need the skills. I tell businesses, okay they’ve, they had me come in for their equity and inclusion and stuff. I said, you need these different kinds of minds so that your business doesn’t fall apart. Your steel mill doesn’t fall apart. You need these skills. But the first step you have to realize is that there are different kinds of thinkers. And then I tell ’em about famous people like Michelangelo, Thomas Edison probably were autistic. What would happen to them today? Michelangelo grubby little 12 year old who dropped outta school and parents wanted to be a lawyer. And he goes, Ugh, I don’t wanna be a lawyer. And they wanted to go play with art and he grew up with stone cutting tools. See that’s exposure stone cutting tools plus seeing great art you see for careers exposure first. Then mentoring. I got into the cattle industry because I was exposed to it as a teenager. Hadn’t gone to my aunt’s ranch, would not be in the cattle industry, its that simple.

Shay (37:47): And also I think it’s a very important piece in your early days on the ranch with cattle, that you physically walked every square inch and moved yourself through the same pathways that the cattle moved through. And that that’s something it sounds like you’ve done consistently throughout your career so that you can see things that other people don’t see.

Temple (38:10): Well I wanted to see what the cattle were seeing. You see, and when I first did this, I didn’t know that other people thought verbally. I did not know that. And, but it was obvious to me to look at what cattle are seeing cuz animals live in a sensory-based world. In fact, one one of my earlier books, “Animals In Translation”, I talk about how autism helped me understand animals because I was an extreme visual thinker. And in “Visual Thinking” in this book I’ve got, um, a chapter on animal consciousness. And I think the people that tend to deny animals’ consciousness are the verbal thinkers. I think they have a hard time imagining thought without words because that’s what animals would have.

Shay (38:56): And so I know that you’ve made a huge impact on the animal industry and that you have developed machinery that has a huge impact on reducing the suffering of animals as they’re being handled essentially. How do you feel about the system as a whole?

Temple (39:17): Well, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of management. One of the mistakes I made when I was in my twenties is I thought I could build a self-managing cattle handling facility. That’s nonsense. Good equipment makes, you know, humane handling easier. But you have to have management supervision and top management has to get behind making sure you do not have mistreatment of animals. Have to have the management. People always wanna buy the thing. Okay, we’re gonna put internet in every school and that’s gonna make, make schools wonderful. That doesn’t replace good teaching. You see, people want the thing more than they want the management. It took me over 10 years to learn that when I first started and there’s, you know, that I think animal handling stuff has gotten better. And then I worked on auditing programs where people that buy meat, like McDonald’s and other companies like that have um, third party auditors that inspect these places. And when you have big customers inspecting their suppliers, you’re gonna have much better standards. And it’s a constant thing. It’s just like the police policing speeding on the freeway. You gotta be out there all the time with the speed cameras or it’s gonna turn into a racetrack. It takes constant monitoring

Shay (40:37): And Temple, given what’s happening with climate change, some of the real shifts we’re seeing on the planet and the impact that the sort of cattle industry has on that, how do you see that future? Do you see our, our future where we’re still raising animals in the way we’re raising and we’re still eating meat?

Temple (40:56): Let’s look at the cattle situation, on the methane leaking oil field equipment puts out more methane, swamps put out tons more methane. Now what a lot of people don’t realize is the grazing animal, the bison created the best crop line we ever had. And there are complaints that cattle take up too much space to raise. 20% of the land in the world can only be used for grazing. And just this summer I did a paper on grazing. I looked up all the papers on rotational grazing, grazing cover crops. And if you do grazing right, you can actually improve the land. The grazing animal may be part of the solution to the problem. You can improve soil health, sequester carbon. In fact, I’ve got a paper right here you can download online. It’s called “Grazing Cattle Sheep and Goats is an Important Part of a Sustainable Agricultural Future”. They may be part of a solution to the problem. And so there’s gonna be a place for grazers and then integrating grazers crops. Okay. You’re building these big huge fields full of solar panels. Yeah. I don’t wanna put weed killer underneath solar panels or some stuff they put on there is slow down plant growth. Let’s to make sure the bottom edge of the solar panel is three feet off the ground so the sheep can’t rub on it and break it. Another thing with our grazing animals, we had a fire that destroyed a thousand homes that if the pasture by the housing development had been grazed. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened. You see, I see it.

Shay (42:29): Right.

Temple (42:30): The other thing on working on some of these issues is a tendency to, oh I guess you gotta work on sustainability. You’re gonna be more effective if you work on some basic thing. Like right now I’m really interested in grazing also. I’ve actually physically been to every rural area of North America and I’ve seen ranchers doing a wonderful job. I’ve seen ranchers doing a horrible job. I’ve seen ranchers that really take good care of the environment. No, we need these family ranchers who’s gonna take care of the land. But I’d rather work on something that’s targeted. You know, people say, oh I gotta do social justice. Let’s work on something that, that you could actually do. Like using DNA to show that this prisoner did not commit the crime. That’s something specific, something you can actually do.

Shay (43:18): When you think specifically about like classroom design that would be more optimal for accommodating these different types of thinkers, what sorts of changes would you wanna see immediately implemented in classrooms?

Temple (43:33): Well, the first thing I’ve gotta make sure we don’t have l e d lights at flicker. That’s probably big number one. You know, architecturally, uh, they, uh, but the biggest thing is let’s think of, you know, simple things we can, we can do. I, I put the hands on classes back in all the schools. Art, sewing, woodworking, uh, theater. I wasn’t interested in acting in the play, but I loved making costumes and scenery. That’s something they can turn into a career. It’s that simple. That can turn into a career. And I’m, but I’m, we’ve gotta start thinking at some of our training requirements. I’m seeing students who would make great veterinarians or great veterinary nurses and they can’t pass algebra. You know, we’re gonna, we’ve got to really start thinking about what education really is necessary for different jobs. You know, it used to be when they had the shop classes, well that guy couldn’t do algebra, he’d take business math so he can actually run your shop, you know, figure out how to price out materials and things like that. Stuff that you gotta know how to do.

Shay (44:39): Do you notice, does your visual thinking skillset help you with things like finance as well?

Temple (44:47): Oh yes. Yeah, definitely. When I was taught to save, and this goes back to teaching kids, I had an allowance now it was 50 cents in the fifties, that’s probably about $5 now. And you could buy a lot with 50 cents, five Superman comics, 10 candy bars. But I learned if I wanted a 69 cent airplane I had to save. I was learning that at age seven, eight. Actually I was very good at estimating jobs. The way I would estimate the price of jobs is I’d look at, well this project is um, uh, one and a half Red River projects or it’s three Red River projects, but we have out of town, so we have to add the cost for renting apartments. And you said kind of do it as percentages of other jobs. It’s much quicker form of estimating and just about as accurate.

Shay (45:41): Is there any other parting wisdom that you would like to share with our listeners, Temple?

Temple (45:47): Well, we need to be looking at what the students and adults that are different can do instead of looking at what they cannot do. And I’m a very big proponent when it is, is exposing young students both in elementary school and in college, to many different things. So they can say, yes, I tried working in a lab and I hated it. Or I tried working in a lab and I loved it. But you don’t know until you try it. Cuz I tell college students do every internship you can get into so you can find out what you love, but also find out what you hate. We wanna get into careers that you’re gonna like.

Shay (46:31): What have you loved about being a teacher?

Temple (46:34): Well, I love seeing students get out and do well. It makes me really happy when my students get some really good job. I have three students now that are professors. I’m really happy about that. And they’re gonna make a difference in animal welfare and animal behavior. And they’re in jobs that they really like. I wanna see students get out and be successful.

Shay (46:55): That’s great. That’s so great. Good. Is there anything else you wanna add to our conversation?

Temple (46:59): No, I think that’s pretty well going to do it. And I hope some people get my book “Visual Thinking”.

Shay (47:05): Yes. I’m sure they will.

Temple (47:06): And it’s been, um, just great talking to you.

Shay (47:10): Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you so much.

Conclusion (47:16): We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Conversations on Healing Podcast. If you haven’t yet, please go to Apple Podcast, Spotify or your preferred podcast platform and subscribe, rate and review this podcast. It helps so, you won’t miss an episode. See you next time.