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Thinking in Pictures

Temple Grandin is autistic. She is also one of the foremost designers of animal handling facilities in the US. She is high-functioning enough that she is good at her job and able to communicate how her mind works. This makes for fascinating reading for people interested in an insider’s view of autism.

Grandin’s book goes back and forth between describing her autism and the different kinds of autism that others have, and talking about her job. She is very matter of fact and readers hoping for an analysis of the moral issues inherent in animal slaughter will come away displeased. Grandin takes as a foregone conclusion that slaughtering facilities will exisit and posits that they should be made as humane as possible: that is the primary focus of her life’s work.

One of the things that becomes immediately apparent when reading this book is that there is obviously a wide range of differing kinds of autism and Grandin is very high-functioning. It is also made clear that she probably has more in common with low-functioning autistics than with non-autistic adults. Her ability to give the reader a look inside her own ultra-literal and ultra-visual mental space really differentiates this book from other non first person non-fiction books about autism. The book is readable when it’s personal and readable when it’s not, getting to see a very different mind at work is a very interesting thing.