The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

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by Temple Grandin, Richard Panek
     
 

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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

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Overview

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 psychology to neurology and genetics, and there is far more hope today than ever before thanks to groundbreaking new research into causes and treatments. Now Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.

Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it. Grandin also highlights long-ignored sensory problems and the transformative effects we can have by treating autism symptom by symptom, rather than with an umbrella diagnosis. Most exciting, she argues that raising and educating kids on the spectrum isn’t just a matter of focusing on their weaknesses; in the science that reveals their long-overlooked strengths she shows us new ways to foster their unique contributions.

From the “aspies” in Silicon Valley to the five-year-old without language, Grandin understands the true meaning of the word spectrum. The Autistic Brain is essential reading from the most respected and beloved voices in the field.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If you want to know why an autistic person acts the way he or she does, “you have to go beyond” behavior and “into his or her brain,” according to Grandin (Thinking in Pictures) and science writer Panek (The 4% Universe). Since 1987, when Grandin, a noted Colorado State University animal science professor, became “one of the first autistic subjects to undergo” an MRI, she has taken multiple “journey to the center of mind” in the hope that neuroimaging technologies will lead to a better understanding of autism. “From the start, medical professionals didn’t know what to do with autism. Was the source of these behaviors biological, or was it psychological?” Now, 70 years after Johns Hopkins University M.D. Leo Kanner gave the first diagnosis, researchers are making huge strides. The authors urge parents, teachers, and society to focus on the strengths of autistics, and they devise a “three-ways-of-thinking model”—by pictures, patterns, or words/facts—to foster change in schools and the workplace. Grandin’s particular skill is her remarkable ability to make sense of autistics’ experiences, enabling readers to see “the world through an autistic person’s jumble of neuron misfires,” and she offers hope that one day, autism will be considered not according to some diagnostic manual, but to the individual. Illus. Agent: Betsy Lerner, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Apr. 30)
From the Publisher
"[Grandin’s] most insightful work to date…The Autistic Brain is something anyone could benefit from reading, and I recommend it to anyone with a personal or professional connection to autism or neurological difference."—John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye

 

"In The Autistic Brain, Grandin explains what she's learned in recent years about her brain and the brains of others with autism." —USA Today

"Grandin has reached a stunning level of sophistication about herself and the science of autism. Her observations will assist not only fellow autistics and families with affected members, but also researchers and physicians seeking to better understand the condition." — Jerome Groopman, The New York Review of Books

 

"Her visual circuitry extends well beyond where neurotypicals’ circuitry stops. Grandin is wired for long-term visual memory. She is sure that one day, autism will be explained by neurobiology. Her new book, The Autistic Brain, outlines that quest."—Los Angeles Times

"Grandin has helped us understand autism not just as a phenomenon, but as a different but coherent mode of existence that otherwise confounds us…She excels at finding concrete examples that reveal the perceptual and social limitations of autistic and "neurotypical" people alike." — The New York Times

 

"Autism is a spectrum, and Temple is on one edge. Living on this edge has allowed her to be an extraordinary source of inspiration for autistic children, their parents—and all people." —Time

"The Autistic Brain can both enlighten readers with little exposure to autism and offer hope and compassion to those who live with the condition." —Scientific American

"The right brain has created the right book for right now." — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

"An iconic example of someone who puts her strengths, and even her limitations, to good use." — KQED, San Francisco

"Temple Grandin has yet again been of enormous service to the millions of autistic individuals worldwide, to anyone labeled with a disability, and to the rest of us curious about the brain and the intricacies of human experience." — New York Journal of Books

 

"The Autistic Brain is an engaging look at life within the spectrum. It’s also an honest one." — HealthCare Book Reviews

 

"A tremendous gift, not just to patients and their families, but also to teachers, mentors, friends, and everyone who is interested in understanding how our brains make us who we are…This is a book everyone should read." — Dr. Ginger Campbell, Brain Science Podcast

"Highly recommended for anyone who knows or works with people on the spectrum." — Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Grandin’s particular skill is her remarkable ability to make sense of autistics’ experiences, enabling readers to see ‘the world through an autistic person’s jumble of neuron misfires,’ and she offers hope that one day, autism will be considered not according to some diagnostic manual, but to the individual." — Publishers Weekly

 

"An important and ultimately optimistic work." —Booklist

 

"An illuminating look at how neuroscience opens a window into the mind." —Kirkus

Kirkus Reviews
Grandin (Animal Science/Colorado State Univ.; Different…Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD, 2012, etc.), whose life has been an inspiration to millions, warns parents, teachers and therapists of the danger of getting locked into diagnostic labels. With the assistance of science writer Panek (The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality, 2011, etc.), Grandin applies her experience and interviews with others on the autistic spectrum to the latest neuroscientific research. Describing the labels given to autism and other developmental disorders as "a clumsy system of behavioral profiling" that shifts with every new edition, she is critical of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and its revised diagnosis of "Autism Spectrum Disorder." She reviews how understanding of autism has developed since 1947, when she was born and so-called refrigerator moms were targeted for blame. Today, "observable neurological and genetic evidence" is beginning to reveal how a multiplicity of causes, including environmental factors, may be responsible for particular symptoms. Readers of Grandin's previous books and viewers of the award-winning 2010 biopic will be familiar with the details of her life and career as a high-functioning autistic. She has been a volunteer experimental subject since 1987, in the early days of MRIs, and scans of her brain reveal structural differences that appear to correlate with her disabilities and her extraordinary visual memory. Grandin is optimistic that future progress will improve diagnosis and education for non-neurotypicals who have many important gifts to contribute. An illuminating look at how neuroscience opens a window into the mind.
Library Journal
The latest by Grandin (animal science, Colorado State Univ.; Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism) describes what she considers the "third phase" of research and understanding of autism. She explains how 21st-century brain-imaging technology allows researchers to see differences in the wiring and structures of the brains of people with autism. Brain imaging and mapping coupled with advanced technology in DNA sequencing can then be used to learn how each individual autistic person's traits look from a biological perspective. However, Grandin stresses how important it is for autism research to focus not only on negative traits but also on an autistic person's strengths; this can help develop that individual's skills and identify jobs and activities in which he or she can excel. VERDICT Grandin's subject matter is quite technical, but the writing is clear and understandable even for nonscientific readers. She effectively makes her case that people with autism have individual differences, and that those who work with them should focus on these differences rather than consider their charges as part of a group with like symptoms. This work is highly recommended for anyone who knows or works with people on the spectrum.—Terry Lamperski, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547636450
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/30/2013
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Meanings of Autism

I was fortunate to have been born in 1947. If I had been born ten years later, my life as a person with autism would have been a lot different. In 1947, the diagnosis of autism was only four years old. Almost nobody knew what it meant. When Mother noticed in me the symptoms that we would now label autistic—destructive behavior, inability to speak, a sensitivity to physical contact, a fixation on spinning objects, and so on—she did what made sense to her. She took me to a neurologist.

 Bronson Crothers had served as the director of the neurology service at Boston Children’s Hospital since its founding, in 1920. The first thing Dr. Crothers did in my case was administer an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to make sure I didn’t have petit mal epilepsy. Then he tested my hearing to make sure I wasn’t deaf. “Well, she certainly is an odd little girl,” he told Mother. Then when I began to verbalize a little, Dr. Crothers modified his evaluation: “She’s an odd little girl, but she’ll learn how to talk.” The diagnosis: brain damage.

 He referred us to a speech therapist who ran a small school in the basement of her house. I suppose you could say the other kids there were brain damaged too; they suffered from Down syndrome and other disorders. Even though I was not deaf, I had difficulty hearing consonants, such as the c in cup. When grownups talked fast, I heard only the vowel sounds, so I thought they had their own special language. But by speaking slowly, the speech therapist helped me to hear the hard consonant sounds, and when I said cup with a c, she praised me—which is just what a behavioral therapist would do today.

 

Meet the Author

TEMPLE GRANDIN is one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism. She is a professor at Colorado State University and the author of several best-selling books, which have sold more than a million copies. The HBO movie based on her life, starring Claire Danes, received seven Emmy Awards.

RICHARD PANEK is the prize-winning author of The 4% Universe and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Science Writing.

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The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
agd63 More than 1 year ago
Based solely on the excerpt here, I can't wait to read the rest! Having worked in the Special Education field for 25+ years, so much of Temple's perspective rings true. If nothing else,it will help to affirm the complex realities of working with autistic individuals and help me to understand everything e n b How to better relate to my students.
ohio-child More than 1 year ago
I have worked as a volunteer in our local schools for many years and often encounter autistic children. There are definitely more today than there were even a few years ago. This is a valuable tool to help us understand how they perceive and react to the world. I can't wait to read this!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
my niece was diagnosed as mildly autistic. This excerpt, alone, is the reason why I will purchase the book. It will be nice to have a perspective; beyond the limited knowledge of observation; to be better equiped to enjoy her life , more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read this book and I appreciated that the authors tried to explain some of the more scientific information in more common terms. This book gave me more insight into autism than I had before and really complimented what I have learned in college. I've already recommended this book to fellow parents, students, and professors.
zucchiniqueen More than 1 year ago
This book was a little too technical for me. It goes into great detail about brain differences, with pictures. I liked her other books better, but probably because of my own mindset.
LanaID More than 1 year ago
This book provides a lot of insight into Autism with technical studies and understandable descriptions of outcomes.
talk.with.mary More than 1 year ago
Dr. Grandin speaks with both knowledge and experience in this book. As a biologist she explains the current scientific research in the field of autism in a way that a layman can understand. She uses her own experiences with the subject to ground her knowledge. This book is a very interesting read and especially so if you are interested in autism. It is also a wonderful window into an autistic persons thoughts.
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Although, I am not truely Autistic. I definately have some sensory issues. Temple did an amazing job of explaining why I have some of the inconsistancies that I do with what irritates me. I want my family to read it so they will understand more about me.
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