133 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2000
This is a must-read book for parents, professionals, and teenagers/adults living with autism (it is not appropriate for younger readers). It is easy to read, entertaining and informative. Readers will come away with a greater understanding of autism and how widely the spectrum of autistic disorders can vary, as well as what to do to help someone with autism.
Ms. Grandin's greatest gift lies in her ability to understand both the worlds of non-autistics and autistics alike. Using her personal experiences as well as significant contributions from other people, she explains how baffling the world is to a person with autistism, in terms of unwritten social codes, our reliance on verbal thinking, relationships, appearances, etc. She discusses concrete ways in which autistics can be helped to integrate with society -- in families, friendships, other relationships, schools, and jobs.
Her chapter on medication is valuable, discussing how autism often requires different doses than are commonly prescribed. This is information that isn't readily available unless you are working with a physician who has extensive experience with autistic patients. Since an autistic person is highly sensitive, the effects of behavior modification medications are often amplified, requiring a lower dose. Particular attention needs to be given to medication combinations.
There is also information on many of the related disorders that often accompany autism, such as sensory integration disorders, Tourrette's Syndrome, ADD, etc. Everything is written from the perspective of the autistic with Ms. Grandin acting as translator.
Besides being informative, the book is optimistic in its view of autism. Ms. Grandin plainly credits autism for her success in her chosen profession. In fact, my only criticism of the book is the length of time she devotes to discussing her career path (this information is also contained in her earlier book "Emergence" ). However, this information may be motivating to autistics reading the book as she certainly has achieved remarkable things. She also includes a chapter on other highly accomplished autistics, with the message that different neurological wiring can be a great asset if properly supported early in life.
It is an informative, inspirational book that opens a window on autism and lets the rest of the world look in and understand.
128 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2006
This book is absolutely amazing. I have 2 children with Asperger's and Temple Grandin's insight into why people with autism have certain behaviors was eye-opening. It also gave me a whole new perspective on what thought processes may effect their ability to learn abstract things and socialize with others. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Even if you don't personally know someone with autism it can certainly give you a first-hand look at how different people think differently.
92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2006
I have a 6-year-old autistic son. Though we love him tremendously, my wife and I have struggled greatly in raising him. This breakthrough book has helped us approach our interactions with him in a more effective manner. It also sheds precious insight into the autistic world for any curious or thoughtful person with an interest to know more. Thank you Temple Grandin for your remarkable achievements in life, which give us great hope for our son. And thank for giving us invaluable perspective on autism. You have blessed the lives of countless people.
81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2006
Whether you know anyone with Asperger's or not, this book will enlighten and expand your thinking about how minds work and what it means to be human. As in most areas, most people assume that other people think and perceive the same way that they do, and that this is the "only right way to do it." But when everyone thinks the same way, break-through thinking is almost impossible.
Reading this book I wondered if, without the awe-inspiring differences, we would have ever moved out of mud huts. It seems to me that the lessons stretch far beyond what it means to have Aspergers, although learning what that means is an incredible gift.
We need to treat our differences with awe, wonder and respect and recognize how people who are "differently wired" have helped to shape our world.
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2010
Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin (page cites)
Emergence: Labeled Autistic, by Temple Grandin
The Way I See It, by Temple Grandin
These are excellent books for anyone dealing with autistic people. Temple Grandin, Ph.D. describes her own autism in Thinking in Pictures, with her brain's profound difference from other people's. Oliver Sacks, the brilliant neurologist, says "Temple does not romanticize autism, nor does she downplay how much her autism has cut her off " from others (xviii). For her words are a second language; basically her perceptions, her understanding of the world is in pictures. Emergence is devoted to her early childhood while Thinking concentrates more on her adult life. She used her faculties successfully and now one-third of cattle and hogs in the United States are processed in systems she has designed. To design this equipment, Temple uses her special visual thinking abilities to examine blue-print simulations three-dimensionally. She can run images over and over in her head, from different angles, to study them and improve their design.
After talking with hundreds of families and individuals with autism or Asperger's, Temple has come to see three basic categories of specialized brains: visual thinkers, music and math (or pattern) thinkers, and verbal logic thinkers, and recommends that there be more educational emphasis on building the strengths of each individual rather than trying to repair deficits. Each group brings its own strengths. After briefly describing her own early childhood behavior, Temple notes that within each brain pattern category there are different levels of ability, from high performing to savant, from Asperger's to Kanner-type autism.
Temple stresses that autism has both a cognitive and sensory component depending on the wiring of that child's brain. Thus these will differ in each child. Consequently the expression of autism is different in each child and it is impossible to predict from the severity of the symptoms at age two or three a long-term prognosis (48). She believes the highly variable volatility of autism is due to the interaction of multiple genes (54), and training and education should be tailored to the individual child. Emergence stresses this point and the last chapter, Autistics and the Real World, lists a series of factors that a parent or caretaker should consider for each child diagnosed as autistic. In The Way I See It, Dr. Grandin emphasizes that parents and teachers should not focus on the diagnostic label, but encourage the child to reach his or her highest potential. She believes that many brilliant contributors to society from Jefferson to Einstein were on the Asperger's continuum. It is interesting that in her earliest book, Emergence, Grandin talks of `reformed' or `recovered' autistics, a label that she definitely drops in her later works. Rather she emphasizes their positive interactions over the image of damaged or failed people. In The Way I See It, Grandin moves further away from the `damaged' concept to showing how autistics bring special skills and abilities. She reinforces how to be a successful autistic person by learning life skills and finding a job or hobby that matches the autistic's skills.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2005
After reading a number of "What is autism?" books, I still cannot get any reassurance about how my autistic 4-year-old boy faces his future. But this book brings light and hope to me. The author's personal sharing & indepth explaination about what she faced before show me what my boy needs to conquer in his life.
I don't know much about the technical terms or scientific stuffs in autism, but I do know that I need to walk with my boy in his developmental path. This book gives me both emotional support and technical information about what I need to know.
My husband doesn't like those "what is autism?" books (maybe he doesn't like those who want to earn money in this topic) but he does read this one and even discuss with me in details about what our boy may be facing.
I highly recommend this book to the parents of autistic kids.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2000
This is the book that, from its first sentence, opened the door for me to understanding my son's world. I read it three years ago and still remember having to put the book down every paragraph or two, clutch my forehead, and say "Oh, my God, that's what's going on." It describes more clearly and convincingly than any other source the sensory experience of autism, and provides a much-needed view of the positive side of the condition. It's also very easy to read. The only caveat I could offer is that treatments have advanced so much since this book was published that its information is out of date. Otherwise, absolutely indispensable.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2002
Temple Grandin's autobiographical work traces the entire span of her life in order to give a full and complete picture of an individual that has found her own way to cope with and overcome many of the obstacles presented by autism. She adopts a non-linear style, supplementing the story of her recent successes with recollections of her successes and failures along the way. Her discussion of autism is complemented by ample citation of scientific sources and of the accounts of many others who suffer with similar difficulties. She provides insight into many facets of autism: sensory, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual. The metaphor that ties her story together is her work with livestock, as she draws abundant comparisons between animal psychology and the workings of the autistic mind. The pursuit of more humane and civilized livestock-handling facilities is her life's work, and she empathizes strongly with the way that these animals feel. I found Temple Grandin's account of her life to be incredibly interesting and inspirational. I read the entire book in one sitting. Her writing style is clear and fluid and it is amazing that someone suffering from autism has been able to gain such a mastery of the written word. I saw no major weaknesses in her writing style, and was impressed by the coherent and original chronology that she employs.
The story of her life resonated with me on several different levels. Having read about autism and having seen the movie Rain Man, I thought I had a fairly good understanding of autism. Grandin's narrative opened my eyes, giving me a glimpse of the way that the autistic mind works. I also found her life to be interesting because of her work with farm animals. I grew up on a dairy farm, and I could vividly picture each scene that she described. I had never really thought about animal psychology before, but now the behavior of our animals makes a lot more sense to me. Her identification with these animals also helped me to understand that autistic individuals think in a way that I will never be able to understand. Grandin thinks totally in visual images, cataloguing everything she has seen into a highly organized mental database. Her ability to visualize solutions and to retrieve information is astounding, and her analysis of the relationship between genius and autism was especially persuasive. Overall, I found this autobiographical narrative to be very compelling.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2003
I find I usually loose interest in books that are not novels quickly. Temple's writing and life experiences shared in this book are so interesting I couldn't put it down. I purchased this book when I was told my fiancé's son may have autism I started reading everything I could on the subject. Much of it was hard to read, and gave me the impression that her son would be living in hell due to his condition. This book does not paint the picture of autism as something that is to be looked forward to, but it doesn't scare you as much either. Beyond giving you a picture into the life of an autistic person, this book is very informative on the condition and ways to deal with it. I feel it is a must read for anyone who has a person with autism in their life. I also feel that it is a great book for anyone to read, as it is fascinating to understand the way Temple thinks.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2005
Temple's second book, Thinking In Pictures encorporates a lot of her first book Emergence but goes into the workings of an Engineers mind which is clearly incredibly able to 'think in pictures'. I'm certain fellow engineers, many architechts and designers will be able to relate to this process, not just people who, like Temple, are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
In educational literature different processing styles are discussed; the visual learner who thinks in pictures and learns from visuals, the auditory learner who thinks in words and learns from hearing, the kinaesthetic learner who is neither visual nor auditory and learns through physically doing, touching and handling form. Most people have all of these forms of learning whilst others, even in the non-autistic population, are far more proficient or deficient in one than the other.
Whilst many other authors with autism spectrum conditions have written about difficulty processing auditory information, and whilst many verify that, like Temple, they are visual thinkers, this is not unique to those on the autistic spectrum and there will be many non-autistic people in fields such as design, science, IT and mathematics where strong visualisation skills make them so good at their jobs, who will be able to relate to her thought processes.
Similarly, whilst there is certainly an abundance of people with Asperger's Syndrome in these job areas (Temple herself is an engineer) and many people at the Autistic end who do well in computer and maths skills and cope well with visual prompts and techniques like the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)it is also true that many others struggle to use PECS at all and lack demonstrated interest or skills in the same areas. Yet it would do these same people a diservice merely to see them as lower functioning but still visual thinkers like Temple.
Visual thinking is not the only non-verbal form of thought. Those whose dominent learning system is that of a kinaethetic style may actually be so good at learning through hands on activities or physical patterning precisely because they are otherwise so impaired and poor at visual learning.
A considerable percentage of people at the autistic end of the spectrum are far more physical and kinaesthetic than intellectual, as is the privilege of visual thinkers. Many at the more 'low functioning' end of the spectrum display such severe visual recognition and visual perceptual challenges it would be difficult to imagine how some of these people are able to build up the visual thinking skills Temple describes. Yet if we assume, as Temple invites us to, that all autistics think as she does, then we might rely on techniques designed for visual learners and let our kinaesthetic learners down, mistakenly assuming them to intellectually disabled when in fact they may be no more so than any deaf-blind child. Many kinaethetic learners have untapped talent in areas involving movement; climbing, trampolining, skating, balancing, gymnastics, stacking, building, moulding. Yet in a world where the auditory is the norm and the visual is championed, their skills are undervalued and underextended.
Temple's book is a wonderful outline of visual thinking and will certainly benefit understanding of those who rely on this processing style rather than auditory learning. But its important not to over-extend the usefulness of this book to a group who may benefit from something quite different and who may be the least likely on the autistic spectrum to ever learn language because language is learned not just auditorily but in the links between the auditory and the visual.