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The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum [Hardcover]

by Temple Grandin, Richard Panek
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30, 2013 0547636458 978-0547636450 1
A cutting-edge account of the latest science of autism, from the best-selling author and advocate


When Temple Grandin was born in 1947, autism had only just been named. Today it is more prevalent than ever, with one in 88 children diagnosed on the spectrum. And our thinking about it has undergone a transformation in her lifetime: Autism studies have moved from the realm of psychology to neurology and genetics, and there is far more hope today than ever before thanks to groundbreaking new research into causes and treatments. Now Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.


Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it. Grandin also highlights long-ignored sensory problems and the transformative effects we can have by treating autism symptom by symptom, rather than with an umbrella diagnosis. Most exciting, she argues that raising and educating kids on the spectrum isn’t just a matter of focusing on their weaknesses; in the science that reveals their long-overlooked strengths she shows us new ways to foster their unique contributions.

From the “aspies” in Silicon Valley to the five-year-old without language, Grandin understands the true meaning of the word spectrum. The Autistic Brain is essential reading from the most respected and beloved voices in the field.


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The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum + The Way I See It, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's + Temple Grandin
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grandin and Panek explore neuroimaging, genetics, and brain science in this book that looks at what causes autism and how it can be treated and diagnosed. Though coauthored, the narrative is largely told from Grandin's point of view, with many first-person references. This filtering of the prose through Grandin allows narrator Andrea Gallo to read in a more personal manner that represents Grandin's singular voice. Gallo shifts to a more critical tone when she reads sections in which Grandin and Panek offer commentary on current practices related to the treatment of autism. A fascinating listen and a winning performance from Gallo. A Houghton Mifflin Harcourt hardcover. (Apr.) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Grandin is the face of autism. Because of her work, the general public is now aware of what was until fairly recently a strange, disturbing, and essentially unknowable condition. In her latest book, Grandin not only discusses her own experiences with autism but also explains the latest technological advances in the study of the disorder, including the genetics of autism. The symptoms that she displayed at a young age—destructive behavior, inability to speak, sensitivity to physical contact, fixation on spinning objects—are now considered classic indicators of the disorder, though she was diagnosed as having brain damage. Things have changed since then, of course. She discusses when autism was first diagnosed (in 1943), but she makes clear from the start that her priority here is to encourage an accurate diagnosis for the disorder and promote improved treatments for sensory problems associated with autism, since difficulty in the latter can often be debilitating. She discusses different ways of thinking and even includes lists of potential jobs for those people among us who think differently. An important and ultimately optimistic work. --June Sawyers

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547636458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547636450
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Very well written text on autism and brain science. The collaboration between Grandin, probably the world's best known individual with high functioning autism, and Panek, a well regarded science writer, was a smart move for this book. While I have not read a previous work by Grandin, as a parent with a child diagnosed with moderate level autism I have frequently read about her and have seen enough interviews of her that I could hear her voice as I made my way through this text. Out of necessity, I have read a high number of books and research papers associated with autism, and the vast insight that Grandin shares from her own experience is valuable, as is what she shares about brain science and the opportunities she has had throughout the years to participate in ground breaking research that included scans of her own brain.

These two topics are interwoven throughout the book, and I agree with other reviewers here that this book probably has a wider audience than what the authors may have originally surmised. However, because I have read so much with regard to autism, potential readers of this book should be aware that the criticisms from autistic readers that Grandin mentions in this book about her past assertions with regard to how "thinking in pictures" is a common trait across autistic individuals, might cease but be redirected toward the fact that Grandin heavily concentrates on high functioning autism, not the entire spectrum. The DSM-5 may no longer include different degrees of autism, but even Grandin explains her reservations about DSM diagnoses. Potential readers just need to keep in mind that the vast majority of her focus here is on those with high functioning autism like herself.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belongs In EVERY Library of Learning Difference March 6, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
*The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across The Spectrum* is hands down *brilliant.* Every parent and teacher of an autistic child should get a copy of this book and read it with highlighter in hand. In fact, Grandin has written a book that will help teenage autistic children understand their differences and *abilities.* And therein lies its brilliance.

The chapter called "Lighting Up the Autistic Brain" asks the question what does an autistic brain look like -- and is it different from a brain that has suffered trauma/injury? Grandin takes us to Schneider's Pittsburgh lab, where HDFT technology is literally lighting up those differences. For those of us with brain injuries, HDFT can illuminate which fibers are damaged and how many. But, as Schneider tells us, the autistic brain is *not* damaged. He says: " we're looking at anomalous growth, be it genetic, be it developmental, etc.,within that process." In other words, the autistic brain is not the product of trauma. It is not damaged. It's *different.* I'm still pondering the profundity of this concept and how the book leads us to examine the autistic differences of being.

*The Autistic Brain* is part memoir and part scientific exploration of the multiple differences of the autistic brain. Don't be but off by the science part of it. Temple Grandin writes in a way that is uncomplicated and direct. She makes sense of a very complex subject. (Her explanation of the "kinds" of autism is one of the best I've ever read.) Because she lives the differences inherent in autism, we come to see those differences and respect them. Grandin calls these different ways of thought Picture Thinking, Word/Fact Thinking, and Pattern Thinking. In the margin of my copy, I wrote: The theory of multiple intelligences for people with autism. Right on!
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God bless Temple Grandin March 5, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love Temple Grandin . She gives me hope for the future for my autistic children and for everybody else's autistic children. This book discusses new research in neuroimaging--comparing brain scans of autistic people (including hers) and nuerotypical people. There is also new information in different types of intelligence (pattern thinkers and two types of visual thinkers) that correspond to different neurological pathways in the brain. I find all of this fascinating. What I particularly like is that everytime I had a question about something, inevitably she answered it in the next paragraph or so.

She also is very clear on focusing on strengths--obviously there are deficits in the autistic brain, but why not focus on what they CAN do well? She also includes some resources in the back for exploring different jobs and on-line learning and apps and such. And she herself is such an inspiration. I met her at a conference once. She is so intelligent, although also straightforward and to-the-point (although she can be funny) and is so successful -hey, maybe my kids can also be successful!
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but a few flaws May 2, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Temple Grandin has written a book involving her being a subject in a variety of autism brain research studies and takes on genetics and more general autism stuff. The book is well-written, but Grandin employs an assistant author (has been the case with many of her books) Therefore, it's hard to discern how much of the book or its research is actually the product of Grandin or assistant author, Richard Panek. The findings in her brain are probably not applicable to many persons on the spectrum who would have compliance issues in an MRI scanner. There are more inconsistencies as to when she was diagnosed as autistic, first in Emergence she states in 1950, later in thinking in pictures at age 5 or 6 1952 or 1953 and now at age 12 in this book.

Grandin contradicts her tenets about the genetics of autism being beneficial to society and providing an evolution advantage in previous writings now that the research of Jonathan Sebat and others refute what she's said in the past.

The subsequent chapters involving the tests are not as interesting as these previous chapters.

She gives her old pat and simplistic solutions about how easy it is for persons with autism to find work. As a person on the spectrum who had to retire at age 51 due to multiple problems in the workplace and numerous terminations, I know there are no simple answers and obsessions usually cannot be channeled into careers and social skills as easily taught as she makes them out to be. The example of the autistic being suitable as an airport screener due to good attention to details misses the boat in that the people contact under adverse circumstances on this job would tax the autistics lack of social skills.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading
I loved the way the book seems narrated from Dr. Grandin point of view. It was of lot of help for me to understand autistic Childs ( I'm working at a school as psychologist).
Published 6 days ago by Gilberto
5.0 out of 5 stars The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum
Temple Grandin's book is easy to read, easy to understand, and is spoken from a lifetime of experience and education as an Autistic individual. Read more
Published 16 days ago by G. Atchison
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book Must Read
This a really great book for everyone to read. Per the usual Dr. Grandin blows the doors off stereotypes, and brings science into the equation for the skeptic. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Emily Rhodenbaugh
5.0 out of 5 stars Great explanation
Temple Grandin is such a great writer. What is fascinating is that the subject of her writing is herself and how she processes information as a person with autism.
Published 21 days ago by FromAtlantaSuburb
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, educational, and thought provoking
This book is exactly what I needed to renew my passion for educating children with developmental disabilities. Read more
Published 27 days ago by K. Hurley
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for everyone who is different (and who isn't?)
Though I have been very impressed with Temple Grandin for over 20 years, this is the first book of hers that I have read. She (and Richard Panek) hits it way out of the park. Read more
Published 29 days ago by sundar
5.0 out of 5 stars The Autistic Brain
I have heard about Temple Grandin over the years in my work with young children with autism. This book shows WHY she is spoken of so positively. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carol Hoffarth
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and interesting.
The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum is a fascinating book. As a special education teacher, I regularly have students on my caseload with autism, so I find it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by P. Greer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I just love this woman. I'm so happy to get to read what she has written and if you watch her in a video you will see she writes like she thinks and talks.
Published 1 month ago by Susan Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Autism
Bought this book for a grandchild who has asperger's syndrome. Insightful and inspiring. She loves Temple Grandin's books. Arrived very quickly
Published 1 month ago by Nan65
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