grandin-ThinkingInPicturesNewIn 1947, there was no name for autism.

In her early years Temple Grandin had doctors completely stumped, and kids who were mentally ‘challenged’ in that era would ordinarily be institutionalised. Her mother was adamant; this wouldn’t be the fate of her daughter. She spent many years going through psychological testing, therapy and analysis. Speech therapy helped her to be able to communicate, but it’s still a constant challenge for Dr Grandin to assimilate with the world in her public life.

Spending a holiday on a farm with family members when she was a young girl was a pivotal moment for this extraordinary woman. Temple discovered she could empathise with the livestock far better than she could with her fellow man.

So, her name may be somewhat familiar to you. She’s known as one of the first autistic people to write an autobiography, and is a world renowned animal behaviourist.

In the US, she helped to revolutionize the abattoir industry. Creating a far more humane situation for beasts meant a better product, and by achieving this brought great respect from those in positions of power.

There’s a great BBC documentary, The woman who thinks like a cow, and a HBO film on Dr. Grandin if you want to see more, and numerous books of both autism and animal behaviours if you want to read more.

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

Hardcover, 206 pages

Published April 30th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)

ISBN0547636458 (ISBN13: 9780547636450)



sophie delezioMost Australians have heard of this young woman who has overcome not one but two serious accidents in her almost fourteen years of life.

In December 2003, she survived a car crashing into her childcare centre. She sustained burns to 85% of her body and it took six months of recovery before she could go home. Keep in mind she was two years old at the time and ended up losing both her feet, one hand and her right ear.

Seeing a gap in the system to support parents and families of kids who survive serious accidents, Sophie’s parents founded the Day of Difference foundation.

Not to be held back, Sophie started school in January of 2006. Five months later, while crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing in her wheelchair with her Nanny and assistance dog, Tara, Sophie was hit by a car. She sustained injuries including, but not limited to, a broken shoulder and jaw, and she suffered a heart attack.

She was back at school in July of the same year. What a champion effort by her family, friends, specialists and therapists.

Nine years on and Sophie has been on numerous TV shows talking about her road to recovery, she has a book called Sophie’s Journey written by Sally Collings, and is taking an active role in her family’s foundation.

In loving memory of Sophie’s assistance dog, Tara, Day of Difference is giving kids in hospitals the chance to have a fluffy cuddle buddy thanks to the generous donations from the public. For more information head here

Here’s a clip from Studio 10 of Sophie talking about the Tara hug buddies

There is also a bike ride coined Distance for a Difference Tour, happening in March of this year.  For more information go here. I think you’d all agree Sophie is an incredibly courageous young woman and should be recognised for beating the odds.

Sophie’s Journey

By Sally Collings

Paperback, 432 pages

Published May 1st 2008 by HarperCollins Australia (first published May 1st 2007)

ISBN 0732285534 (ISBN13: 9780732285531)


LIFE PHOTOGRAPHERDid you know that the first issue of Life magazine had a cover photo by Margaret Bourke-White? Not that you would know, because photographers didn’t get a by-line back then. Also, the fact that she was the first female photojournalist for Life magazine is huge, considering it was November 1936.

Bourke-White was also the first female war correspondent, heading to Germany in 1941.  Hanging out of planes to snap pictures of bomb ravaged areas and accompanying the soldiers into Bunchenwald Concentration Camp in 1945 was just part of her job. I know if you have ever studied World War II, you would have seen Margaret’s photos of the corpses they found in Bunchenwald in the text books. I remember some of them, and they still make me ill.

This woman was a trail blazer; she loved taking pictures from atop the gargoyles on the 61st floor of the Chrysler building in New York City. She found a way to take pictures of the Otis Steel Company in the early 1920s, which was a feat in of itself. Film at the time was far different, sensitive to blue light, and with the ladles of bright orange and red molten steel, the image would show up as black on the photos. Using flares, she took some of the most iconic photos of industry in the American industrial era.

Margaret had seen the atrocities of war and hardship, and took photographic evidence of the beauty in her lifetime. She went places women had never been before, worked her way to respect and high acclaim. But all the skill in the world couldn’t save her from her last and longest struggle. In 1953 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She fought hard, having to revolutionary brain surgeries to try and get her body and mind to work together.  claimed her life 18 years later.

Now I know this documentary is over an hour long (and there is a section of audio missing), but I do urge you to take a look. It isn’t stuffy and Margaret is… pardon the pun, rivetingly portrayed by Sally Matson.

As an aside, if you’re a B&W film buff, there’s an old film about a female photographer trying to make it in New York on youtube. Again, it runs for just over an hour… link to Double Exposure from 1944




The first Fistula hospital in New York closed its doors in 1925, the year after Catherine Hamlin was born. That’s a really long time ago!

Yet in the developing nations, where there are not enough doctors, midwives, and places where women can be medically seen to in cases of difficult childbirths, this condition is extremely common. But the surgery can be out of financial reach of the women who need it badly, so they live in isolation, in disgrace and shame.

Dr. Hamlin answered an advertisement in a medical journal to head on over to Ethiopia and open a midwifery school, on a three year contract, way back in 1959. Go forward a decade and a half and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital was founded by Catherine and her Husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin. 

Jump forward to 2007 and Dr Hamlin helped open the Hamlin College of Midwives, starting with only 12 students. The college aimed to have a birth attendant for as many regional areas as possible.

Now Dr Hamlin and her team have helped save the lives of over 35,000 women and the number is climbing daily.

Catherine is highly decorated with awards from many countries over many decades, but I feel that none of that really matters to a woman with a heart of gold, a will of iron, and a steely resolve. Thank you Dr. Hamlin–for giving the lives back to so many women who would otherwise suffer, and in some cases die, from a condition that’s very treatable.

For more information on Fistula, here’s a public service announcement by Natalie Imbruglia

For more information on how you can help fund Catherine’s amazing work in Ethiopia

There’s also a book (though apparently it’s recommended to the older reader)

The Hospital by the River: A story of Hope

By Catherine Hamlin and John Little

Paperback, 308 pages

Published March 3rd 2005 by Monarch Books (first published January 1st 2001)

ISBN 0825460719 (ISBN13: 9780825460715)

Natalie PanekI really wanted to do a complete profile for this inspiring young woman, however, as is with most women who are really worth talking about, there is very little information to be found.

Natalie Panek is an up-and-comer in the scientific world and, with a couple of successful Tedx talks under her belt, people are beginning to sit up and take notice… slowly.

In her last Tedx talk she spoke of the gender inequality we create for ourselves as women. We create it for ourselves because we don’t seek out the women who really make a difference, who are working to keep their heads above water in a highly masculine industry and who themselves may not value what they’re achieving enough  to realise that we need them to speak up and become the role models for future generations.

So, as there is a severe lack of biographical information, I’ll link you to her Tedx talks and let her speak for herself. You’ll be hard pressed to not walk a little taller and enjoy the day a little more after hearing what Natalie has to say.

We will certainly be watching to see how she can reshape the feminist movement.

Revolutionising Female Empowerment

Why we explore

Natalie also has her own YouTube channel, where she posts videos of her adventures. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and this young woman is certainly going places.

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