May 23, 2012

Living with autism

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism
by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is an animal scientist who has designed one-third of all the livestock handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism because she is autistic, and thinks, feels, and experiences the world far differently than the rest of us. 

Grandin thinks in pictures, not in words or emotions. She describes it as seeing a movie in her head, which she can edit and view from a multitude of perspectives. This unique ability enables her to control her behaviour and function well in society. She also credits her mother for always supporting her, especially in regard to autism treatment. 

Grandin covers a wide range of topics in her book, ranging from the symptoms, development, causes, and treatment of autism, to the sensory experiences of autistics, to the lessons that autism provides us about human thought in general. Interesting chapter headings include developing autistic talent, the link between autism and genius, autism and relationships, and medications and new treatments.

Some of the chapters are a little hard going for those with no experience with autism, but most are fascinating, especially when she explains her intuitive connection with animals and how they perceive the world. Extraordinary and compassionate, Grandin's book enables readers to understand the worth of autistic individuals and to appreciate autism despite its many liabilities. 

For child readers, try Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism & Changed the World.

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