Diagnosed with “brain damage” at the age of 2, Grandin, now 72, holds a Ph.D. in animal science, teaches at Colorado State University and has written over a dozen books. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017, which recognized her innovations in humane livestock handling and breakthroughs in understanding cattle behavior.

For many people on the spectrum, a career like Grandin’s seems unlikely. Despite competence in various fields, as many as 90 percent of adults with autism are left out of the workforce. A major obstacle is the demand for soft skills.

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