She walked into the hotel lobby wearing a black cowboy shirt with a colorful design splashed across the upper chest. I was completely and unashamedly star struck. I had been talking with the director of the upcoming documentary, “Autism in Love” when I saw her walk in. I stopped speaking midsentence and my mouth hung open. “There she is…” I finally said out loud. “It’s Temple Grandin.”
She walked across the lobby and sat down in the chair directly across from me. I recovered some of my senses and introduced myself as her 1:30 appointment. She was polite and courteous, but she frowned as she looked at her watch.
She informed me that she had not had her lunch yet and she would need to have her lunch before she talked to me. She was still polite, but stern. I immediately clarified that I was very early and had no intention of taking her away from her lunch, I just wanted to introduce myself. Satisfied with this explanation, she settled herself into her chair pulled out a date book and a phone and went to work.
I reluctantly dragged my eyes away from her and realized the film director I had stopped speaking to was still sitting next to me. I remembered that I had been asking if he had seen The Story of Luke yet. He hadn’t. I began to tell him about this lovely film that had just won Best Picture, Best Actor and a bunch of other awards at the Irvine International Film Festival only two days before. I shared that it was about a young man on the spectrum, transitioning to adulthood and hoping to find love. The Director expressed concern that often in films and television people with autism aren’t portrayed accurately. I wanted to assure him that wasn’t the case with The Story of Luke. I said “This film is different, I’m the toughest audience because I’m an Autism Mom…” As soon as I said “Autism Mom” Temple Grandin’s head shot up. “You’re an Autism Mom?” she asked me.
“Yes, Ma’am I am!” I told her with pride.
In that second everything changed. The polite but stern Temple was gone, and in her place was a woman who clearly had a passion for the subject of helping children. She leaned forward, her eyes alight with interest and began asking me rapid fire questions about my son and his autism path. Her planner sat untouched, her phone was forgotten and I completely and rudely forgot about the Director I had been talking to. Temple Grandin and I were in a world of our own talking about my favorite subject: My Kid! It was a slice of heaven and something this Autism Mom will never forget….but it was nothing compared to what would come later….