I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Ms. Grandin speak at a conference and was impressed not only by her life story, but also by her ability to make the science of her story – namely the science of autism – accessible to my non-scientific mind. I also liked her attention to language. People with autism do not have better or worse minds, just different ones. And we need to speak of and work with their strengths, and not dwell on or even disparage their differences. Grandin combines her story, which is not a static one (she continues to volunteer to be part of studies in order to learn more about what new efforts can say about the brain), with anecdotes and research to present a compelling case for how we – those of us who work with people with autism – need to adjust our own thinking in order to understand someone with a different mind. It can’t just come from those who have a personal stake in the game. There’s a great story here about a father of an autistic child who persuaded his employer (Walgreen’s) to hire more people with autism. When it worked out well for Walgreen’s, they replicated the set-up. Such efforts must come from everyone.
If you are thinking about this book, you probably have some reason to want to learn more about autism. As someone new to the subject, I found Grandin to be an excellent guide.