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The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  4,293 Ratings  ·  430 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
Hardcover, 206 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2013)
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Susan Olesen
Jul 01, 2013 Susan Olesen rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 10, 2013 Burt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology-brain
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
Jul 02, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, done, autism, 2013
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
This book is written as two parts. The first is an overview of the current state of research into the causes of autism, in turn divided into subsections on brain structure and genetics. The second is a personal and impassioned but not terribly coherent plea for Aspies to be defined as much for their strengths as their weaknesses, indeed for Aspie traits to be seen just as traits without any attendant value judgements about them at all.

Part 1 is excellent, giving a very comprehensive picture of w
Feb 18, 2016 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, education, asd
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
Aug 07, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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.
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
Jun 03, 2016 Brandt rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
After I read Eli Gottlieb's Best Boy. I immediately sought out the works of Temple Grandin. Both of my sons are on the autism spectrum and my youngest son is the one who is "classically" autistic and the one I have the most difficulty "figuring out." Gottlieb's autistic narrator made me want to try and understand how my youngest sees the world, and I have often heard that to understand someone you should try to walk a mile in their shoes. But when it comes to my son's autism I have a hard time p ...more
Dec 20, 2013 Correen rated it really liked it

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
Richard Cytowic
May 01, 2013 Richard Cytowic rated it it was amazing
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—
Jun 03, 2016 julieta rated it it was amazing
I love Temple Grandin. Her insight is always a treat, she's a great embassador for people who have autism. The most important thing about her angle is that she does not think of her autism as a problem, but as a strength.
Sep 20, 2016 Mom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This amazing woman just keeps getting better and better. I loved this book and recommend everyone to read it. There is nothing more to say. Read this book!
Jan 18, 2017 Amber rated it really liked it
Nonfiction books, especially those about science, are hard to rate and critique. That being said, I can understand how this won in the Goodreads Nonfiction category in 2013.
Jul 18, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: career
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
Jul 04, 2015 Kim rated it liked it
I listened to "The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum" as an audiobook. I haven't read much on autism before and I hoped this book would help me understand more about it. I've met autistic people before, and I have a niece who is autistic. So, I have some experience with the way that autistic people can behave, but there are huge differences from individual to individual. Some people behave just a little oddly, and others can't speak and aren't potty trained. While they are all conside ...more
Janne Varvára
Dec 20, 2014 Janne Varvára rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autism
Having found out that you have autism at the age of 26 is somewhat strange. First of all, it's happily liberating, since you realize that you weren't stupid after all, just differently wired.
All those times that your mother frustratedly yelled that "you're so smart, why can't you do this particular thing, you should be able to", the not fitting in at school, being bullied and never really forming any lasting friendships is all down to this differentness. And it's not my fault.

Sadly though, socie
Aug 27, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Temple Grandin has been a great role model for people n the autistic spectrum almost all her adult life, a fact celebrated in the recent movie about her entitled Temple. However in this book she explores, in her typical systematic and thorough way, what it is about the autistic brain that makes it so unique and special. And it seems that she has truly found the key... "Patterns" Temple asserts and backs this up with all kinds of evidence that the one thing all autistic brains excel at is noticin ...more
Kathy Sebesta
May 13, 2013 Kathy Sebesta rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Anne
Jul 09, 2013 Mary Anne rated it liked it
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
Sep 06, 2014 Noor rated it liked it
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
May 04, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Joy H.
Jan 09, 2014 Joy H. rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 08, 2013 Peggy rated it liked it
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
Linda Strawn
Jan 31, 2016 Linda Strawn rated it really liked it
Where to begin on this one. I gave it a 4 and not a 5 because although it was very informative, it was pretty deep. I had to give my own brain breaks from it at times. Other readers gave reviews about enjoying the first part of the book more. I actually got into the last half more. Some quick points that stuck out in my mind. There are picture thinkers, work thinkers and pattern thinkers. She states that we need to get past seeing labels and recognize strengths. Autistic people tend to have quic ...more
Sep 19, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it
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
Gloria Pearson-Vasey
The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin contains an amazing amount of detailed information about the anatomy and function of an autistic brain.
I first met Temple Grandin when I picked her up at the Detroit Airport for the First Annual Meeting of St. Francis Advocates for the Autistic. It was also the first anniversary of the opening of St. Francis Farm and she was our Guest Speaker. Since then I’ve read many of her books, watched documentaries and heard her speak.
Since Dr. Grandin is familiar with
Jan 06, 2014 Kendra rated it really liked it
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
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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
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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.” 2 likes
“Label-locked thinking can affect treatment. For instance, I heard a doctor say about a kid with gastrointestinal issues, “Oh, he has autism. That’s the problem”—and then he didn’t treat the GI problem.” 2 likes
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