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Julia Ormond as Eustacia Grandin, mother of Temple. When Temple was younger, Eustacia was in denial over the doctor's diagnosis of Temple's autism. Eustacia was determined to have her daughter receive an education and lead a normal life despite the diagnosis.
Temple was diagnosed with classic autism, a severe case of autism in which she seemed aloof, lacked eye contact, had no language, and avoided human affection and touch. At this time, science classified autism as a form of schizophrenia, blaming mothers as the cause for the disorder and claiming that they were cold and brutal to their autistic child, naming them "refrigerator mothers". The diagnostician suggested placing Temple in an institution. Temple's mother refused to listen to the diagnostician and helped Temple adapt to the everyday world. Her mother hired a speech therapist, who worked one-on-one with Temple and enabled her to acquire language.
From Marilyn Beck & Stacy Jenel Smith:
Ormond says her own biggest challenge in making the highly acclaimed movie was "struggling with the uncertainty that I was representing parents of autistic children fairly. I've had a few people who've intersected with my life who have autistic children, and I know it's hard, very hard."
She had read Eustacia Grandin's book, but didn't meet her real-life alter ego until the movie's premiere. "Her whole wisdom was that she had to be able to do things for herself," notes the actress. Meeting the strong, tough-minded woman "was terrifying and wonderful at the same time. She was wonderfully sweet and supportive."
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Temple Grandin talked about him while promoting the movie.
From the Time magazine interview:
What do you hope people will get from this film?
I hope they'll get that somebody who is severely autistic really can achieve. Another thing I hope they get is the importance of the mentor teacher. I'm seeing a lot of smart, geeky kids and there's no Dr. Carlock [a high school science teacher played by David Strathairn] around to mentor them. Actually, my teacher was Mr. Carlock. I noticed they'd made that mistake in the script, but I decided he deserved an honorary doctorate so I didn't change it. He was just so important to my success.
And this is from NPR's "Talk Of The Nation":
Temple, you credit much of your success to a high school science teacher. Tell us about that, please.
Yes. Yes, Mr. Carlock(ph). I was a goof-around student who just wasn't interested in school, just didn't want to study, totally bored with school. High school was a disaster. I got kicked out of a large girls' school because I threw a book at a girl after she teased me. And I was sent away to a special boarding school for emotionally disturbed children.
You've got to remember, this is the ‘60s. And so they now know that autism's not an emotional disturbance. But they didn't know that in the ‘60s. And I was still a goof-around student. Now, they had horseback riding. That was one of my favorite things to do. We had model rocket club. We had electronics club. These were all activities where I could get away from teasing and get in with other students where I had shared interests, you know.
People with autism aren't interested in social chit-chat. And Mr. Carlock, I mean, took my interests and used that as a way to motivate me to study science. And I mean Mr. Carlock was an extremely important mentor in helping me to develop. And when you look at, let's look at the people with the milder forms of autism that are successful. They have their area of strength, you know, built-up on. I have a career that involves using my visual thinking skill for designing. And then mentor teachers, another really, really important thing because the autistic brain tends to be a specialist brain, good at one thing, bad at something else.
Two Sundays ago, David Strathairn and Julia Ormond both won the Best Supporting Emmy Awards for their work as Dr. Carlock and Eustacia Grandin, respectively.
Two for Tuesday!