I think this is the least clichéd portrait of an autistic individual that has yet appeared on TV or in film. Like anything, autism has positive and negative effects, as this film makes plain in its well-rounded examination of this real individual's life. Temple Grandin does not understand people, her manner may be considered strange, but her ability to conceptualize and focus enables her to be an innovator.
Unlike many other films, including "Adam" (which starred Claire Danes' husband, Hugh Dancy), "Temple Grandin" does not seem to request pity or condescension from the viewer or apology from the autistic character. Despite a childhood filled with bullying and derision from others (subtly sketched in the movie), Temple is focused, confident, driven, and gutsy. Her autism requires no pity and no apology: she is "different, not less" (a line repeated in the movie). That's the reason she was able to succeed. Yes, she gave the valedictory speech at her college graduation, though she did not speak until she was four: there is nothing far-fetched about it. Lack of language does not mean mental retardation.
The movie jumps around in time, but I did not find it hard to follow. The main thrust of the narrative is Ms. Grandin's interest in cattle and the story of the educational path that led to her innovations in the field of livestock management. Episodes from her earlier life are inserted in the narrative in ways that give insight into the character. Her interest in science and her ability to conceptualize were nurtured by a caring science teacher, wonderfully played in a subtle performance by the always capable David Straithairn. Julia Ormond is also strong as Temple's mother.
Ultimately, the people in Temple's life accept her and celebrate her for who she is, and for her unique insight and abilities. I hope this film will help people realize that autism is not a disease and is not a tragedy.