Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 24, 2008 - Psychology - 304 pages
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Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism—because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us.

In this unprecedented book, Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. Writing from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells us how that country is experienced by its inhabitants and how she managed to breach its boundaries to function in the outside world. What emerges in Thinking in Pictures is the document of an extraordinary human being, one who, in gracefully and lucidly bridging the gulf between her condition and our own, sheds light on the riddle of our common identity.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Temple Grandin’s Thinking In Pictures provides a unique insight into the mind of a person with autism. Grandin’s experiences have granted her the opportunity to meet with many different people on the autism spectrum, and she shares their stories and works through her book. Thinking in Picutres is a nice indoctrination into the world of autism for parents, teachers, researchers, and the curious consumer. Grandin offers tips for all people that are potentially involved in the life of a person with autism, and she cites extensive resources that are both technical and non-technical in nature.
What may be of particular interest to scholars of thought and thought processes is Grandin’s particular conceptualization of thinking. Grandin’s ability to be metacognitive is beyond the capabilities of most people without autism. She is able to communicate to the reader how she understood the world without having a concept of language from an early age. She thought it was ridiculous that some scientists thought that humans had to develop language before they could develop tools, and this is when she first realized that her thought processes were truly different from so many other people. However, Grandin is quick to point out that though she processes information visually, this is not the case for all people with autism and the reader should not assume as much.
Parents and teachers will find the sections on sensory problems, developing talent, and relationships of great interest when it comes to integrating children with autism into school settings successfully. Grandin stresses the idea that all children with autism fall on different parts of the spectrum, and what might be problems for some will be solutions for others. She warns that neither is there one solution to fix autism or the symptoms that come with it, nor should one want to do so. Grandin states that had she the choice to cease being autistic, she would turn it down; it is part of her identity.
The idea that each child with autism is a unique case is stressed throughout the book. This is important for professionals from teachers to physicians who work with this population of children to note. Grandin offers tips and tricks from adapting classroom settings to adjusting medications all while integrating the story of her life growing up and coming to terms with her own autism. Thinking in Pictures does not deliver false hope to parents of children on the autism spectrum. Grandin is adamant that without the support system she had growing up and the specific teachers and experiences to which she was privy, she may not be the person she is today. She acknowledges that there are great traits associated with autism, and without those traits the world would be quite a boring place. However, there are those on the autism spectrum that will not be able to achieve what Grandin has. By the end of the book, Ms. Grandin has shown that everyone involved in the life of a child with autism must be involved in interventions (the earlier the better), and that it is up to them to continue to try combinations of therapies, medications, interactions, and settings to find what works. She warns that there is no miracle cure, and she acknowledges that she is one of the lucky ones.

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The author tells her life story of living with autism and the abilities she uses to cope with it.


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About the author (2008)

Temple Grandin has a Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois, and has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States, and many in other countries. She is currently an associate professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University and a frequent lecturer at autism meetings throughout the country. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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