Book Review #1: Thinking in Pictures

I just finished Temple Grandin's Thinking in Pictures, and I highly recommend it!

I have always thought that Dr. Grandin is amazing.  To hear from an autistic person how their mind works is just fascinating.  If you don't know of Temple Grandin, you need to Google her!

She says that she thinks like an animal, and that has helped her revolutionize the cattle industry.  She has designed systems that keep the cattle calm as they go to the slaughter.  She is kind of a big deal.

She is also autistic.  In this book, she explains how she thinks in pictures.  She gives a great example about church steeples.  If someone says, "steeple," you likely think of a generic church steeple.  She does not.  She thinks of specific church steeples that she has seen in her life.  The very first one she ever saw as a child...famous steeples....etc.  She says that her mind works like a Google Image Search.

She thinks in associations rather than logically.  She gives an example from another person with autism.  He would say, "Planes fly high because I am not scared of them."  Logically, this makes no sense...but he was thinking in associations:

He was not afraid of heights.
Planes fly high in the sky.
Therefore, planes fly high because he is not scared.

One girl would say "french toast" when she was happy.  That means nothing to anyone else, but it did to her...why?  Because she had once had french toast when she felt happy.  To her, "french toast" represented the feeling of being happy.

This realization is so enlightening.  One, because it helps me understand so many of the children I have worked with in the past.  Two, it should tell us this:  autistic brains are different.  This difference means that they are not likely to learn the same way a neurotypical brain will learn.

She explains other things, like sensory processing disorder.  If you have a hard time grasping what SPD is, then read this book!  She gives so many different examples.  For example, some autistic adults explained that they have monochannel system systems.  That means that they can only use one sense at a time.  If they watch you speak, then they can't hear you.  In order to hear what you are say, they can't look at you.

Dr. Grandin also highlights the fact that many "temper tantrums" are not tantrums at all, but purely a reaction to sensory overload.  I have always said that about Colin, and I was glad to hear an expert in autism say the same thing.

If you are looking for a good autism book, I would say that this one is a must-read.  Here is a clickable link to her book:


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