The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum
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The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,885 ratings  ·  269 reviews
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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...more
Hardcover, 206 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Susan Olesen
I avoid books on autism. I don’t like the terminology of the “autism spectrum” and the snake oil cures that celebrities like to flaunt. I have worked with the seriously autistic for more than 25 years – the hard-core institutionalized kind – and have little tolerance for someone who thinks their child is autistic simply because he’s an introvert. And for the last 30 years I’ve had a profoundly impaired autistic foster son, and all that happy information for the mainstreamed four year old who mig...more
Burt
Her best yet.
So many times while going through this, I pictured Obama after the Zimmerman verdict was delivered, trying to get a country to understand what it's like to live as a black man in America. Temple takes on a task no less daunting in trying to help Neurotypicals appreciate the experience of a life lived inside the head of someone on the autistic spectrum. She describes how even her own assumptions about autistics were off the mark initially. Explaining the difference between the insid...more
Laurel
Fantastic read! Another of those books that annoyed my spouse, as I continually wanted to "share" the paragraphs I was reading, and kept commenting out load when I wasn't sharing: "Wow!" - "I can't believe it!" "What a great idea!" - and on and on. Dr. Grandin brings her personal and professional experiences and expertise together in a way that provides enhanced scientific understanding, personal insight, and practical suggestions for research, testing, diagnosis, and "treatment" of "those on th...more
Chris
Very good nonfiction look at how thinking about autism has changed as our understanding of neurology and brain chemistry has increased. For me, the second part of the book ("Rethinking the Autistic Brain") was far more interesting and useful than the neurology/brain chemistry first part. Just because people with autism think differently doesn't mean that our thinking is wrong. It's just different. And if researchers develop a "cure" for autism, what will be lost? There's evidence suggesting that...more
Rachel
I didn't know what more Temple Grandin could say about autism, but she's come up with some cutting-edge information and thinking. The book is well organized, thanks (she says) to her co-author.

Grandin really wants to understand everything about autism, and she follows up on things she hears about. This book collects some current findings about the workings of the brain and notes areas slated for future investigation. She is interested in MRI data about brain structure and activity in normal and...more
Ellen
Brilliant. Fascinating look at neurological and genetic studies regarding autism and the need for better MRI and other technologies to achieve accurate diagnoses. This book highlights the problems of DSM diagnoses: that the current autism spectrum is not based on science but relies on subjective interpretation that is constantly changing. Until the science evolves and autistic diagnoses can be consistently traced to specific parts of the brain or specific genes, Grandin recommends diagnosing and...more
Linda
I respect Temple Grandin both as a scientist and as an educator. She speaks up with knowledge and authority regarding the humane treatment of livestock, and of the humane education of human beings. I enjoy her writing—her unique personality shines through and adds a validity to what she says. “The Autistic Brain” is much more scientific than her earlier “Thinking in Pictures,” and as such, may be a bit of an information overload for those who aren’t looking for such an in depth education on brai...more
Cheshire Public Library
I avoid books on autism. I don’t like the terminology of the “autism spectrum” and the snake oil cures that celebrities like to flaunt. I have worked with the seriously autistic for more than 25 years – the hard-core institutionalized kind – and have little tolerance for someone who thinks their child is autistic simply because he’s an introvert. And for the last 30 years I’ve had a profoundly impaired autistic foster son, and all that happy information for the mainstreamed four year old who mig...more
Alyssa
The first two chapters were focused mostly on genetics and DNA, which was OK.. but the rest of the book was SO good. SO GOOD. I love that her evidence is more than just numbers - she shares a lot of stories and experiences that helped me understand what someone might feel or act like in that situation.

My favorite chapter was the last one - focusing on strengths. I think this concept is so important when dealing with all people, not just those with autism, but is an especially important attitude...more
Richard Cytowic
Grandin takes on the status quo, especially the muddle of Psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), and what the changes will mean to those who lose their insurance because they aren't properly "labeled."

She makes a strong case against being "lable-locked," arguing that it makes more sense and is more practical in the day-to-day life of "Aspies" and parents to focus on a given symptom/behavior, and deal with one thing at a time.

A few factual errors, and spots of oversimplification—...more
Joanne  Manaster
Fantastic book co-written with another fabulous author, Richard Panek. I had Temple and Richard as guests on my Read Science! google hangout on air. She is a wonderful person whose contributions to us are inummerable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypWZZo...
Correen

Excellent book, especially for families of autistic children. For the rest of us, however, it provides a good description of the problems, methods, and thinking in researching complex neurological diseases/syndromes. She has a gift in being able to present these complex matters in simple terms.

Now that Grandin has her career well established in her primary field, she appears to have shifted some of her efforts to a more activist position for autistic children. With her unique perspective and ski...more
Noor
More like a 3.5 rating. Grandin made most of the science in this book understandable to non-biologists like myself (which makes sense, considering she's a "picture thinker"). The anecdotes and colloquialism of The Autistic Brain helped steer it away from being a boring research book and instead a book that challenged biological and social norms. I was most pleased with the final chapter, where Grandin gave solid advice on how to successfully integrate autistic people into society. She even inclu...more
Katie
The Autistic Brain is supposedly about autism but the brain research can be generalized to pretty much any brain. The best parts of the book are the chapters that present the newest brain research and how that is being used to figure out why autistics are different. Advances in neuroplasticity are also showing that brains can change over time as people gain knowledge, learn new skills or experience new places. Grandin also makes a case for looking at autism with an eye for the unique strengths o...more
Mary Anne
This content of this book is interesting. It describes brain research related to autism, and it includes many anecdotes from the experiences of Temple Grandin and other persons with autism.

I have a couple of quibbles:

First, the title is ridiculous. "The" Autistic Brain? What, there is only one autistic brain??? The book again and again emphasizes the inconclusive and sometimes contradictory research as well as the diverse strengths and weaknesses of persons with autism. An equally boring but les...more
Paul
Thank you, Temple Grandin. She may be a high-functioning autistic, but after reading this I feel like a low-functioning review - her point however is to live to your fullest potential. This book encompasses so much experience and research about the autistic brain that I can't hold on to much of it. She looks at the genetic nature of autism, the possible causes, the elasticity of the brain and capacity to keep growing, perceptual styles or preferences (verbal, object-visual, spatial-visual patter...more
Kathy Sebesta
What an insightful piece. If you have any interest in how the brain worx, you must read this. The book definitely benefits from the assistance of a co-writer. Altho TG is phenomenal at expressing her insights into the way her particular brain, and autistic brains in general, work, Richard Panek does a great job of keeping it organized so it makes great sense.

My husband and I discovered early on that while I am most definitely a word person, he sees the world in pictures - a source of many giggle...more
Wendy
I love learning about how the human brain functions. Temple Grandin's experience and research not only teaches about autistic brains, but the human brain in general. Human brain function is on a continuum. We are not easily categorized as "normal" or "on the spectrum". In a sense, we are all "on the spectrum". Without these differences our world would be a much less interesting place. It's those on the other side of normal that make the breakthroughs, think of new solutions, and change the world...more
Audra
I always love reading the latest research, and is was no exception. The new hypotheses about three types of thinkers was especially interesting. Grand in does an excellent job of thing the latest research to personal stories which really bring the concepts to life. I learned even more about understanding the strengths of the neuro diverse world in which we live.

I did find that it was geared far more to verbal, "high-functioning" (hate that term) end of the spectrum. For example, telling people t...more
Joy H.
Added 12/4/13.

I listened to the audio version of this book.

This book increased my understanding of the way the brain works. It's fascinating!

The author, Temple Grandin, is a highly educated autistic person. In the book, by referring to a large number of detailed studies, she explains how different brains work different ways. Temple herself sees specific pictures in her brain when different words are mentioned. She says that some people are picture-thinkers like herself. Others are more verbal in...more
Peggy
Grandin is a prominent spokesperson for the autistic population and she has been publishing books about her career and education regularly. This book seems hurriedly put together, a blend of opinion and science that disappointed me, mostly because of the lackluster style, but also because it did not seem to cohere--it lacked a unifying principle. But the joke was on me, because I learned from reading it that this is part of the autistic experience--building from the ground up, from facts, not th...more
Kendra
I really found this book to be enlightening and a good read for teachers, OTs, parents, employers really anyone who encounters people on the autism spectrum (which is everyone right). I learned many things I did not know before and some techniques to consider, trial, ponder if I find myself working with kiddos on the ASD spectrum. I do have to warn you that this book is filled with science and neuro-anatomy as Temple is a scientist and does a lot of research and talks about specific differences...more
Christine
Temple Grandin is on the autistic spectrum and also a scientist. She offers insights into her disability, current research, and also presents new ideas. She believes that we are in a new phase of diagnosing this disability. Because of brain imaging we can see the development of different brain areas and understand an individual's strengths and deficits rather than relying on behavioral observations and evaluations. She theorizes that there are "pattern thinkers" in addition to visual and verbal...more
Dolly
Jul 02, 2013 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents of autistic children and fans of science
Recommended to Dolly by: Katie
I borrowed this book from my local library when the librarian pointed it out. I had never really heard of Temple Grandin before, but the book intrigued me. The narrative is filled with scientific principles and neurological concepts that sometimes go far beyond my level of understanding, but on the whole, it's very readable and thorough.

I was impressed with Ms. Grandin's willingness to use herself as an example throughout the text and her anecdotal explanations really helped to explain the vari...more
Scott
Helpful way to get a broad-based understanding of some of the most current thinking on Autism. Some parts are fairly technical. Chapter 4 is particularly useful in understanding the sensory input needs of autistic children. By the end, the book trends toward being more helpful to those who are dealing with an high-functioning autistic. But overall, an important read to gain some fundamental insights. A good category-establishing book.
Kurtbg
TG takes a look at what autism is and the spectrum it covers in development. The book gives insight into the various in the manifestations of what we call autism. To me, the brain develops along a pathway, and sometimes it veers due to genetics, early experience, physical damage etc. Autistic characteristics can be manifest in anyone, but that doesn't mean they can be defined as autistic. The research into autism provides a greater understanding of how the brain develops - by identifying how it...more
William Crosby
Think of this book as a snapshot in the process of learning about autism, rather than a "this is what autism is" otherwise you might be disappointed.

Also, although she does not say so, it strikes me, from her descriptions, that autism is similar to cancer in having multiple pathways and multiple "behaviors." (See the book "End of Illness" for what I am talking about regarding cancer.)

Although "autism" is a nice catchall label, since there are so many variations, it is almost meaningless as a lab...more
Pam
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 especially interesting. However, with the increase in autism being diagnosed, this should be interesting reading to anyone.

The book is written just how you would expect Temple Grandin to write it. It is very thorough and straight forward. She starts out discussing how she was diagnosed. Then the varying labels and changes to t...more
Laura
Grandin offers an incredible opportunity for insight into the workings of the brains of people on the autism spectrum. Not only does she take a no-nonsense, down-to-earth approach to the topic of autism, she is first and foremost a scientist. No self-victimizing here -- Grandin is remarkable in her dogmatic pursuit of research and understanding with the utmost humility in the process.

The points that I took away from this book are the following (although there so much information in the book, and...more
Michelle
Grandin’s extensive research and experience translates into a book that is understandable and accessible to all readers, no matter what their personal experience with autism might be. My interest in the subject comes mainly from my husband’s work with autistic schoolchildren, and after reading several fictional accounts of autistic characters, I wanted to learn more. Grandin considers it fortunate that she was born four years after autism was first mentioned in medical circles. For years, the go...more
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Brain Science Pod...: * BSP 98/99: The Autistic Brain/Temple Grandin 8 27 Jan 15, 2014 11:58AM  
New York Journal...: Temple Grandin on Rethinking Autism 1 4 May 01, 2013 01:04PM  
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Temple Grandin, Ph.D., didn't talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. She tells her story of "groping her way from the far side of darkness" in her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic, a book which stunned the world because,...more
More about Temple Grandin...
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger's Emergence: Labeled Autistic

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“Boys who cry can work for Google. Boys who trash computers cannot. I once was at a science conference, and I saw a NASA scientist who had just found out that his project was canceled—a project he’d worked on for years. He was maybe sixty-five years old, and you know what? He was crying. And I thought, Good for him. That’s why he was able to reach retirement age working in a job he loved.” 0 likes
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