Tag Archives: Temple Grandin

Book Review: The Way I See It by Temple Grandin

In Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin riveted a reading audience who had only the movie “Rainman” as an introduction to autism.  While “Rainman” was a fascinating portrayal of an autistic savant, those of us living with, working with, or loving someone with autism knew that savants represent only a small percentage of autistics.   Because so very many persons with autism are unable to convey the complexities of their thinking, autism itself remained shrouded in mystery.  Then Thinking in Pictures exploded upon the scene and gave people their first glimpse into the mind of someone living with ASD.  For this reason, Temple Grandin is to autism what Hellen Keller is to the blind and deaf.   She helped make the unknowable a little easier to understand and became a hero to many Americans.

In The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s, Grandin steps back from her personal narrative and addresses the subject of autism with parents, teachers, and other caregivers in mind.  In The Way I See It, Grandin focuses not on what it is like to have autism or Asperger’s, but on what we must do for our ASD children – a how-to guide of sorts, especially for parents seeking a starting place on their new journey.

This book is a compilation of articles Temple Grandin has written for Autism Asperger’s Digest over the years.  She addresses such topics as:

  1.  Diagnosis and Early Intervention
  2. Teaching and Education
  3. Sensory Issues
  4. Understanding Non-verbal Autism
  5. Behavior Issues
  6. Social Functioning
  7. Medications and Biomedical Therapy
  8. Cognition and Brain Research
  9. Adult Issues and Employment.

What I like about this book is that Grandin does not merely set herself at a distance and inform you dispassionately about the issues.  She actually tells us what it is most important to do for each child, what helped her, what to avoid, and how to help ASD individuals identify and develop their personal strengths and talents.  She is passionate about what must be included in each ASD child’s basic education and character development and the importance of perseverance.  Finally, she addresses those with ASD directly, giving advice to them about how to find their passion, how to fit in, and how to market their talents.

The Way I See It is an excellent book for parents new to ASD, grandparents, teachers, etc.  It is a great introduction to autism without overwhelming the reader with overly detailed discussion about complex subjects such as speech and social relationships.  There are excellent books that delve into those areas to a deeper degree.  This is not one of those books, nor is it intended to be.

Diplomats from Planet Autism

One of the things that I’ve noticed about published high-functioning people with autism is how uniquely insightful they can be about the rest of us – the neurotypicals comprising most of humanity.  Folks like Temple Grandin and Sean Barron have written not only about autistic people and how they see the world, but also have provided an objective analysis of the rest of us.  Some of their observations about how typical people socialize and view the planet are, at times, both fascinating and disconcerting in their honesty.

This morning, I watched a young man named Alexander explain what autism means to him (on thAutcast).  It’s funny, insightful, and inspiring.  In it, he methodically and endearingly presents his situation.  He says that sometimes people with autism can feel like aliens from another planet trying to interact with human kind.  (Which brings to mind Mae Swenson’s poem Southbound on the Freeway.)  Considering how odd human beings really are, I can see why he might feel that way.

I loved Alexander and his perspective.  And, when I look at him, it gives me hope for my son’s future.  No, I don’t think that my son must become verbal to be happy.  But I do so wish for him that he is able to communicate to others who is is, how he sees the world, and inspires others to want to be his friend.  For Alexander strikes me as someone I would want to have as a friend.  I want Callum to be appreciated and valued for Callum, not merely defined by his autism.  I want him to enjoy his uniqueness and be proud of the person he is.

So I’d like to give a big shout out to diplomats like Grandin, Barron, and Alexander.  They come bearing friendship and gifts from their world and seek to make the connection to ours.  They educate, de-stigmatize, and encourage us to realize that autistic people – like everyone else- have great things to offer those of us willing to accept them.  Thank you.