This week I’m reading a great book by Temple Grandin, a doctor of animal science and a professor at Colorado State University. Her new book is “The Autistic Brain”.
Temple Grandin is an adult with autism. She has written several books about her experience of having autism, and recently there was a movie made of her life, starring Clare Danes.
Her newest book addresses the sensory piece of autism, which I really appreciated. Many students I work are so disregulated by their sensory experiences, that I have to work on their regulation first, before I work on their speech and language skills. However I have tried to treat these students without addressing their sensory needs, and we can’t get as much accomplished.
Much of her book outlines her idea that people with autism are either “Picture Thinkers”, or “Word-Fact Thinkers” or “Patterns Thinkers”
She also devotes a chapter to understanding that some some autistic people feel that have two selves – one self that thinks, and a different self that does. One autistic person reported that he “spun” (common behavior of autism) since his arms and legs felt to him like they weren’t connected to his body, and spinning helped his body to feel connected. This helps me to understand some of my students better.
I was very excited about the end chapter that focused on foundational social skills that students with autism really need, to get and hold a job, and live as an independent adult, if possible. Grandin outlines the important skills parents and teacher need to teach their students. These are:
- Don’t make excuses.
- Play well with others.
- Manage your emotions.
- Mind your manners.
- Sell your work, not yourself.
- Use mentors.
I also appreciated three lists in the back of the book that Grandin suggests for the kinds of jobs would be good, for the 3 different thinkers.
Lastly the book has an AQ test (Autism Spectrum Quotient), that readers can take to see how their brains work compared to people diagnosed with Autism.
It’s really interesting and exciting to think about the scientific knowledge that is now available to back up the brain differences of neurotypical and autistic people.