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Temple Grandin: Why autism is a gift

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Why Autism is a gift
  • Temple Grandin is a professor at Colorado State University who is autistic
  • She sees autism as a gift, not a disability
  • Grandin: My mind works "like Google for images"
  • Grandin is the subject of an HBO film starring Claire Danes

(CNN) -- Temple Grandin sees her autism as a gift, not a disability.

The professor at Colorado State University, who has become a prominent animal rights activist, spoke at the recent TED Conference in California about how people's brains work in different ways -- and how that's something that should be appreciated, not stigmatized.

Grandin, for instance, thinks in pictures, "like Google for images," she said.

She also grabs hold of details, a brain function she feels could help politicians.

"I get satisfaction out of seeing stuff that makes real change in the real world," she said. "We need a lot more of that and a lot less abstract stuff."

Video: Watch Grandin's talk at the TED Conference

One of her biggest real-world accomplishments, she said, was when a mother recently told her that her autistic child had gone to college because of Grandin's inspiration.

Grandin's life also is the subject of a new HBO film, in which she's played by actress Claire Danes.