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Publisher's Summary

The Autistic Brain is the first book by Temple Grandin that will be neither a memoir nor a book on animals. As always, Temple's ability to cut through the jungle of information and make the science clear is evident with each listen; her skills as a scientist and her original thinking offer some significant new insights into the understanding of autism.

Temple Grandin teaches listeners the science of the autistic brain, and with it the history and sociology of autism. By being autistic--by being able to look from the inside out and from the outside in--the author's insights are not just unique, they're groundbreaking. According to Temple, our understanding of autism has been perhaps fundamentally wrong for the past 70 years.

©2013 Temple Grandin and Richard Panek (P)2013 Recorded Books

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Excellent! I now have more questions to ask.

This is an amazing look into the mind and more importantly the brain of people diagnosed with Autism. We are finally finding some answers, but of more interest are the questions this book raises. Temple Grandin gives a look behind the curtain of Autism from the point of view of an eye witness. Are we missing a great resource in specialized thinking? What have we to learn about the power of our brains from the anomalies of the Autistic brain? Most fascinating might be that behind the facade of the non-verbal person with autism, might be a high functioning, communicating individual, that is trapped inside an uncooperative outer shell. Would you treat a nonverbal person with autism the same, if you knew they understood everything you said, but were just unable to get their response past the wall of their muscles and vocal cords. Being close to some people with Autism makes me attune to these questions, but I think that we all have something to gain when we have the answers to these questions and more. This book is a good place to start.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Cynthia
  • Monrovia, California, United States
  • 05-04-13

So Much More than the Title. Listen to this book!

As I listened to Temple Grandin and Richard Panek’s 2013 “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum” I realized Grandin’s book is much more than “just” a book on autism. I desperately hope this book it isn’t overlooked or undervalued because of its title.

In Grandin’s parlance, I am “neuro-typical” (not autistic), and so is my entire family. I do know people with autism and I have friends with autistic children, but I don’t have a particular passionate interest in the disorder. The Amazon reviews I’ve read make it clear that “The Autistic Brain” is an extremely important book for the autistic community who have the passionate interest I lack. I believe “The Autistic Brain” is equally important for “neuro-typicals” - especially parents.

The seachange in “The Autistic Brain” is Grandin’s hypothesis that people think in at least three different ways: in pictures, or visually, as she does; verbally, or in words, like the majority of people do; or in a new category, patterns. I know I am primarily a verbal thinker, but by concentrating, I can and do think in pictures or in patterns, for short periods of time. When I am able to do that, I often solve problems I can’t solve otherwise. Grandin proposes the idea that an autistic person’s education, skill development, likely abilities and strengths should be tailored to their type of thinking. I agree completely, and it should be taken a step further: it should apply to “neuro-typicals” too.

For parents, she talks about some important child raising tactics: for example, if you’ve got a kid who really knows math well and the kid’s in “baby math”, the kid may get bored and act out. A lot. Give the kid real math to do, and you may have a model student. And math doesn’t have to go in the order it’s usually taught: basic math; algebra; geometry; calculus . . . and if a kid doesn’t ‘get’ algebra, try geometry, or statistics, or something else. These, and her other education recommendations, apply equally as well to “neuro-typicals.”

The book starts with a discussion of the genetic, biological and environmental causes of autism – as well as other usually less disruptive neurological conditions, such as migraine and depression. Grandin’s explanation of how and why the brain works, and some of the things that can go wrong, is the most understandable I have ever heard. By analogy, Grandin describes an engine (the brain) misfiring by describing how the engine is supposed to run, but pointing out that the engine is missing a sparkplug, has a clogged hose, or doesn’t have enough gas – or perhaps, all three.

For those of us who have long been puzzled by the actions of autistics acting out, Grandin discusses the often extreme sensory problems autistics can have. I realized I actually knew what that was like. Twenty years ago, I had a case of the flu so severe that I lost the ability to screen out noises in other apartments in my building, and I could only wear the softest cotton clothing – and that hurt. When the landlord started refinishing the hardwood floor in the next apartment over, the noise was so excruciating all I could do was put my hands over my ears and cry. I was only that sick for a day. Some autistic children were born that way. I will never again wonder, in annoyance, why a parent ‘can’t control’ their autistic child’s sensory tantrum again.

Grandin’s book also discusses, among so many other things: problems with even peer reviewed and published scientific studies caused by inaccurate assumptions, improper data collection, and bad analysis; the problem with diagnosing hypersensitivity or under sensitivity based on outward behavior; incorrectly applying diagnostic labels to individuals, and how that can hurt their development; how a typographic error erroneously caused a misdiagnosis of autism; why the ‘epidemic’ of autism may not really be an epidemic at all; the tablet/iPad revolution, and why it works so well for autistics; identifying sensory disorders; the number of undiagnosed autistics in Silicon Valley (she estimates 50%); what drugs may help autistics, and why; the upcoming and new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders (DSM-V) . . . and so much more.

The narration was clear and crisp, and Andrea Gallo did a good job with the scientific terms and distinguishing the authors’ voices from discussion; and with quotes.

47 of 51 people found this review helpful

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  • Diane
  • United States
  • 07-30-13

Delivers as promises

I hesitate to write a critical review because this book is amazingly well researched and written. Temple Grandin is, without doubt, a ground-breaking expert in this area and has invaluable insights to offer, especially for people who have personal experience with autism. I just didn’t find the writing (or reading, which was too slow) all that compelling; I actually fell asleep a few times while listening in the car (as a passenger). I must stress, however, that it’s the writing, not the content, that left me wanting. For comparison, I read her book, “Animals in Translation” and couldn’t put it down, which is why I chose this book to begin with.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Insightful and entertaining

Would you listen to The Autistic Brain again? Why?

Absolutely! There is a huge difference between learning about autism from the perspective of researchers and from the point of view of a person actually on the spectrum. Temple Grandin provides insight that makes the diagnosis understandable and more human. She not only has experienced autism herself but she is so interested in the anatomy, the most recent developments, and how the diagnosis varies from one person to another. Her passion alone makes the book interesting.

What did you like best about this story?

It's a good balance between the latest research and technical information regarding autism as well as explanation of how the research and understanding relates to her personal experience and experiences of others she has met with autism.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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If you know a child with autism read this book

For years we wondered. This book helped us understand just a little better. There are practical tips. Most of all it was written by a person with autism. I would highly recommend this book

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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I understand my daughter now.

This book helped me understand how my daughter takes in the world, now I watch to see how she learns and what she is interested in. She is still in her own world, won't communicat with us unless she really wants something, but she loves to help make dinner, and learn new things.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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LOVED IT!

I am the mother of a 12 year old girl with high-functioning autism. She and I are both constantly struggling to understand why she has some of the behaviors and feelings that she has. This book has gone a long way in providing a scientific explanation for autistic behaviors and addresses how to best utilize the unique skill sets autistic people have been granted. I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to fully comprehend the wonderful information provided in this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Eye opening

I love this book Temple Grandin is able to explain things in a way that is both scientific and very accessible. her insights into those with sensory issues and appropriate accommodations are invaluable to me as a special education teacher.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great book for tech industry managers

I am the parent of a child on the spectrum and a software development manager. I read the book to help me help my son, but walked away with so much more. This book explains how the brain works for neural typical people and how autistic brains can differ. Dr. Grandin explains in detail different types of thinkers, how autism can enhance it and how to play to the strengths of the individual. Managers in the tech industry can leverage this understanding to help motivate and thus better utilize engineers and scientists who are on the spectrum as well as those who are not.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Temple--wonderful as always.

What made the experience of listening to The Autistic Brain the most enjoyable?

Temple Grandin is exceptional. Temple is honest, open, clear thinking and compassionate. I have listened to several of her books and was enthralled by them.

What did you like best about this story?

Temple is a major advocate for people on the autistic spectrum. She eagerly explores the nature of her own brain while being equally fascinated with the different brain workings of other autistics as well as so-called normal people. I learned a great deal from this book.

Have you listened to any of Andrea Gallo’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

First time. Great job, well done.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This book would make a wonderful documentary. For the tag line, I'd use "Insights on the human experience."

Any additional comments?

Get this audio book or its written version. You won't be bored or disappointed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful