The film is based on the extraordinary real life of the title character, played by Danes. Temple Grandin has high-functioning autism, along with a PhD in Animal Science and a bestselling book (2004’s Animals in Translation). Grandin once said she relates better to animals than to people, and in her capacity as a livestock industry consultant, she famously conceived a more humane slaughterhouse design. She also invented the “hug machine,” designed to calm people who are overly sensitive to human touch (a symptom for many with autism).
Do you know someone in your life who is autistic, you already know that no two people on the autism spectrum are alike. Hollywood, however, has played a part, for better or worse, in defining the general perception of autism by championing a certain “type” of autistic adult: the enigmatic but endearing savant (Dustin Hoffman in 1988’s Rain Man ). Now, in the upcoming HBO biopic Temple Grandin, Claire Danes is taking on the challenge of showing autism in a whole new light.