189 of 195 people found the following review helpful
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There are not enough words or good enough words to describe this book, or the person who wrote this book. I have been aware of the presence of Temple Grandin for some years now. I have read about her in Oliver Sack's books. I have seen journalistic shows concerning her on television. I have known that she is considered autistic (been diagnosed as that)and that she had a Ph.D. and works with animals, primarily livestock. All of this information predisposed me to be interested in her life, and ready to admire her for everything that she has accomplished.
However, it was not until my own nephew was diagnosed as having a developmental delay problem of his own, Asperger's, that I actually sought out more information about Temple Grandin and autism. In studying neuroscience, we just barely scratched the surface of this disability, and I remember thinking that this was an area of great dissent and of great need. Above all, there is an obvious need to hear from those who have autism. There are many books out there by parents, by physicians and scientists, by educators and psychiatrists. But there are few books by those who live the life of someone with autism. As a deaf person I know that those who would understand what it is like to be deaf in a hearing world cannot possibly imagine the problems, the obstacles, and even the joys which come with my differences. So I am also aware that I cannot understand other disabilities and differences unless they are told to me by someone who has actually been through it themselves.
Grandin does a great service to those with autism and those who have loved ones with autism or developmental delay disabilities. By allowing us access into her world, and explaining why she 'behaved' certain ways in certain circumstances, it allows others to comprehend the absolutely mind-boggling over-stimulation that these persons are exposed to. Not only does it aid in understanding and allow us to reserve judgement (rather than condemning these children as uncontrollable), it may help those who are exploring the neuroscience accounting for autism as well as lead to the development of educational and behavioral methodologies which can assist these children to meet their potentials and fulfill their lives. It also helps all of us to realize that differences do not necessarily have to be negative.
Temple Grandin and her mother are examples of what can be accomplished through love and education. Grandin was helped on her path by her mother and good teachers, but she also helped herself by educating herself on all possible fronts as to why she reacted and behaved (and how to control those reactions and behaviors). I can only begin to imagine the difficulties that both she and her mother faced in overcoming her problems, and making the most of her abilities. This book is necessary reading for all parents of children with these disabilities, for those who work with them in education and in psychiatry. I have now added Ms. Grandin to my list of people I admire, up there with Lincoln, Helen Keller, and Albert Schweitzer. She is an inspiration to us all of what can be done with hard work and perseverance. As she stated "Children, including the autistics, are not static"...all children and all people can always be taught and can achieve more. It is only the prejudices of others that are allowed to dictate what any child can or cannot accomplish.
University of Pittsburgh
95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2000
Temple Grandin might be the most famous autistic person in the world, and this book, her autobiography, at 180 simply-written pages, can be read by children and adults. It tends to be aimed more at children and teenagers, though. It details her problems growing up, misunderstood by many (but, happily, understood by some of the most important influences in her life). Like most autistic children, she was desperate for human contact but unable to tolerate it. She had a terrible temper, oftentimes couldn't communicate, and was continually overwhelmed by her environment. Yet she was exceptionally intelligent and creative. Instead of ending up locked in her own internal world, as autistic children often are, she was able to overcome many of her difficulties and gain a Ph.d. Her frightening journey is well worth reading.
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 1999
During the first year after my son's diagnosis, I read thirty-four books on autism (I catagorized them according to personal account, family account, clinical study, education & intervention method). Four years later, this one stills ranks among the best in terms of personal accounts & has helped immensely in learning to understand my son, his behavior & how to get through to him so he'll understand me. An excellent account for parents who desire insight on what their children with autism are experiencing.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2002
As the mother of a then two-year old with autistic spectrum disorder, I read this book looking for clues to my daughter's behaviors. I already knew of Temple Grandin's work from TV news magazine coverage.
I, like other parents of children with ASD, hope that my daughter will one day grow up to be like Temple Grandin -- much like parent's of "normal" children hope that their child will grow up to be the next Mozart or Einstein.
This book never told me "why" Temple feels the way she does. But it did, in a very readable style, tell me "what" she feels - or does not feel. It gave me an insight into my own child's cravings for deep pressure and other sensory input.
The most important thing that I gained from this book was the understanding of the power that parents can and do have over the educational process for their children. The work of Temple's mother was alluded to in this book, but it is obvious that her mother was a woman who bucked the conventions of the time (the 1950's) and sought inclusive education for her daughter.
I wonder if Temple will ever realize how very special her mother is, and what a wonderful gift she has given her daughter.
65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2002
If this were the only book that Temple Grandin had written about autism, it would be well worth reading. However, her more recent work "Thinking in Pictures" is less a sequel than a new (and better) version of the same book. This might be worthwhile for someone who has already read that book and would like some more detail on some of the topics covered there.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2004
Since I began working with individuals with autism, I have been interested in reading works by adults with autism. I believe books such as this one offer a valuable insight into the world of an individual with autism. One of the main ideas I got out of this book was the idea that many individuals with autism experience sensory input differently than other individuals. This is an idea that I have heard from physical and occupational therapists for years, but Temple Grandin explains it so vividly, it is hard to forget. She talks about her simultaneous need for deep pressure and her intense desire not to be held by anyone. She explains that while she needs the sensory input, she needs to be in control of it. I have seen this in my work with small children with autism. I have been taught by physical and occupational therapists several ways to provide this much needed stimulation (such as wrapping the child in a blanket and rolling a ball over them). However, I have noticed that this only sometimes has a claming effect. Other times it makes the child more anxious. Since reading this book, I have worked with one preschooler and taught her words such as "hard", "scratch", "rub", and "tight". She is quite verbal and learns words quickly, but she did not know how to ask for the type of stimulation she needed. Before, the only control she had was to say "peanut" (the shape of the ball we roll over her) or "stop". Now, she can control not only when she gets stimulation, but also the type of stimulation. This is why I believe this type of book is so important. Temple had a very frustrating childhood because she could not adequately express what was in her mind. Many of my students experience similar frustrations, but I believe I can get a better understanding of what is going on in their minds by reading books such as this one.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
With the recent success of the novel "The Curious Incedent of the Dog and the Night Time" - a novel written from an autistic's point of view - we should remember that this book, "Emergence," was the first autobiography written by an autistic. Quite literally, it was Temple Grandin, more than any other person, who brought autism into the spotlight and gave us the "insider's perspective."
Before I go on, it should be noted that anyone reading this will be reading the story of a quite high-functioning autistic. Sadly, the majority of those diagnosed with full-blown autism will be worse off than she (even if they can use language), and that, after having seen her live a few times, I question whether she would have fit the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome (very mild autism) better than "autism."
That being said, this woman's life was obviously no walk in the park. Even if her autism is mild, this story is one of humungous triumph over towering obstacles. She recalls, for instance, how it was not until her elementary years that she was really able to use speech. Her middle school years are rushed over because, she says, they are simply too painful to recount. (She tells us that other students used to taunt her by calling her "tape recorder" because she would endlessly repeat phrases because she liked their sound. She tells us of her obsession, starting in high school, with walking through doors and her creation of a "squeeze chute" which would allow her to experience physical pressure against her skin in a way that would not overwhelm her senses.
Sound unconventional? Welcome to the world of autism. Autism, for those who don't know, is a developmental disorder that affects one's sensory intake (often, sounds, smells, and tactile sensation can be overwhelming), expressive abillty (having trouble verbalizing thoughts and feelings), and impairing social "instincs" (those unwritten rules "neurotypicals" take for granted. Grandin's story is one of learning to deal with, and adjust to, all three of these impairments enough to function in the world as a "normal" person, which is something that, sadly, many autistics can never quite do.
But Grandin is a firm believer that autism can be "cured" (the quotation marks are because I think she means "dealt with" or "adjusted to fit the world," rather than "cured." Towards that end, the introduction and epilogue of the book are deveoted to lessons on how to deal with autism which can be extrapolated from the book.
Another reviewer mentioned that this is a book that can be read by teenager and adult alike. This is one of its greatest assets. Autistics, when they use language, tend to use very literal and direct language (autistics have trouble with things like metaphor). This book is concise, to the point, written in very simple language, and would be easily aceesible to a teenage. As I teach teenagers, some with autism, I am just waiting for the chance to have some of my autistic and Asperger's kids read this book, because I know they will be able to draw much inspiration from it.
If you are at all concerned about autism, Asperger's syndrome, and how the autistic thinks, this is a must read. Grandin is candid about her failures and her sucesses. This is a book that will entertain, educate, and inspire you.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2005
There is no doubt that Temple Grandin has the mind of a scientist and engineer. Her writing style is informative, methodical, well sequenced and it is clear how she has been able to have the mental and cognitive organisation to go on to an inspiring, successful academic career as someone with a PhD mastering her special interest of cattle management. By stark contrast to Donna Williams' chaotic, fragmented and sensorily rich writing style of a clearly challenged cognition and mind, Temple has the style of sitting in a lecture with Mr Spock. The two backgrounds couldn't be more different. Temple was the child of highly academic able parents driven by love and caring in staunch pursuit of treatment, help and progress of their child. Donna at the other pole was born into equally highly uneducated and challenged parents in an environment of alcoholism, violence, neglect and threat. To read the works of these two people is like looking at autism through the eyes of Einstein on the one hand and Van Gogh on the other. Emergence Labelled Autistic was the first published autobiography of a person diagnosed with autism in the English language and came out over a decade before Williams' Nobody Nowhere became a bestseller in the mainstream publishing world. But it was Nobody Nowhere which brought autism out into the mainsteam and had the world find Temple's valueable book which was till then on the academic shelves only. Now both books are in languages all around the world and provide a kind of bookend perspective of the Autistic Spectrum from one extreme to the other, the scientific mind, and the artistic one.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2006
As the parent of a 5 yr old autistic child,
I read this book with great interest. It has
given me some insight as to what my child
MAY be experiencing (each autistic child is
unique). The author's experiences and trials
have given me ideas to consider as aides for
my daughter and confirmation about what I've
believed she needs in the way of structure.
The author is TRULY a remarkable person and
I am thankful to her for having the courage
and the thoughtfulness to share her experiences
with the public. I am also moved by the strength
and courage demonstrated by her mother through
the years; another remarkable woman.
I am excited to read the author's "Thinking
In Pictures" next!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2005
Temple Grandin has become an inspiration to the autistic community, as someone who has become highly successful both despite and because of her autism. As someone raising an autistic child, this seemed to be a good book to read to help my son reach his full potential.
While it is certainly inspirational that someone with autism wrote this book, I'm afraid the prose is quite wooden and plodding, and the 150 page book seems a lot longer than that. Too often, long journal entries and letters are used in place of narrative, and not always to good effect. I suppose this isn't going to make me popular here, but this book can be tedious to read at times.
But it's worth the effort. Ms. Grandin provides insights into the autistic mind unfortunately very few can possibly provide, and it has helped me to understand what my son must be going through. A lot of facts and theories of autistic behavior are woven into the story to make it informative enough. Few autobiographies are published about average people, but certainly Temple Grandin is an extraordinary and inspirational figure, and simply reading about her life, however weakly it's presented, is rewarding. Clearly Ms. Grandin benefited from a determined mother and instructors and many health care professionals that were well ahead of their time in understanding her condition, and probably that is the most important message one gets from this book.
For anyone who knows someone with autism, I'd give it five stars. For someone with a more passing interest in the subject, the rating sinks to three stars.