Temple Grandin is undoubtedly one of the most famous women with autism of our time. Trained in animal science, Dr. Grandin is a widely read author and noted speaker on autism. April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Dr. Grandin has a new book out, “The Autistic Brain.” Together, this must have seemed like a good time for the New York Times to interview her. Unfortunately, the interview is superficial and not very illuminating, and what Dr. Grandin does say is disappointing.
She answers the questions in the New York Times by saying that she has heard parents stories and believes them. She also says she has questioned doctors. But the author of this piece says she messed up. She’s out of her area of expertise, she confused correlation with causation and more.
Her biggest problem, though, isn’t just failure to represent the scientific literature or to understand the MMR vaccine. It’s her over-reliance on anecdote. Simply by the numbers, this correlation between regression and MMR vaccination (or any vaccination) is completely expected.
With a new book coming out about The Autistic Brain, it is worrisome that this mistaken and disregarded idea that there is a connection between autism and vaccines may gain traction again. Grandin is an expert in having autism but that should not be confused with knowing how it happens.
You can listen to an interview with Grandin at Point of Inquiry about animal welfare, her specialty. Temple Grandin – The Science of Livestock Animal Welfare | Point of Inquiry.