and Other Reports from My Life with Autism
by Temple Grandin
This is the book that sparked my interest in and curiosity about autism. But when I first picked it up, for some reason I thought it was about art. I had just come from a college art class where we had been discussing if "most people" see images in their mind or think in patterns of words, like sentences. We postulated that artists were more likely to think via images. Then I visited the college bookstore and spotted this on the shelf. Immediately I associated it with the class discussion and couldn't resist picking it up. I was quite unprepared for the actual subject matter; but it caught my interest right away.
Before I read Thinking in Pictures, all I knew of autism was the stereotypical idea of a kid huddled in a corner, non-speaking, closed out from the world. But I learned that there are many forms of autism, some quite high-functioning, some unrecognizable from what I had assumed. Temple Grandin describes her own experiences, her journey through school, her amazing aunt who helped her channel an obsessive interest and turn it into a career at which she became very successful. Grandin explains how autism causes her senses to function differently from normal people's (mostly in being more sensitive). Because of this, she can understand why animals respond in certain ways to their environment; and she used this ability along with her drawing skills, to design more humane livestock-handling systems. Her work was innovative and award-winning.
This is a fascinating book on many levels. It can feel a bit disjointed, moving from one theme or subject to another unexpectedly, and sometimes you have to step back from the book to see how it all connects together. But I did not find this bothersome, seeing how difficult it was for the author to learn to write at all and present her thoughts in writing. From this book I went on to read other works Grandin has written, Emergence and Animals in Translation, followed by a plethora of books on autism and related disorders. The variations of the human mind and how it works hold a never-ending fascination for me.
Rating: 5/5 ........ 222 pages, 2005