Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
For relatives and professionals Thinking in Pictures - And Other Reports From My Life With Autism will guide you into the world of the autistic mind.
I am truly glad that I waited three years before reading Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports From My Life With Autism since autism had arrived in our family. I had a better understanding of the disability, and could relate to this book so much better than as a newly diagnosed family trying to comprehend the terms. I would suggest the same to other families who have an autistic member in their household.
For therapists and other professionals I feel they should read Thinking In Pictures: And Other Reports From My Life With Autism before they have any interactions with someone who is on the Autism Spectrum. Once you have worked with someone with the disability it would be a good idea to peruse the book again for specifics and to confirm your knowledge of autism.
Through out the book Temple gives titles and references to other authors of books that pertain to Autism, as well as her impressions of the book and how it affected her. She can recall names of teachers and actual events that took place from the time she was a small child. There are many references to the similarities of cows in the slaughtering houses she designs and works at to the way an autistic persons mind works.
Temple discusses how many parents are looking for a magic cure thinking their child has to have ten hours of intensive therapies. She cites that there are studies showing that twenty to twenty-five hours a week requiring the child to constantly interact with their teacher was most effective. Her own mother spent thirty minutes a day reading to her and Temple says that a neurologist gave her mother the best advice to follow her own instincts.
It should be noted that Temple is in her fifties and things that took place during her childhood are not happening in this day. Back then children were placed in institutions. Most of the issues Temple refers to she gives scientific background and then her personal history on how she has progressed through the years. For example she explains that most autistic people do not realize that their sensory processing is different. The reader learns of her medication intake and how this has developed over time.
Temple discussed emotions and how she just recently had discovered she does not experience the full range of emotions. She shares many experiences from her years of working with cows and also from her college days. She thanks one employer for dropping a can of Arrid on her desk. Later on in the book she compares how Albert Einstein probably had autistic tendencies and refers to his lack of social niceties. She also suggested his distaste for dress clothes could mean he had sensory issues and preferred to wear soft comfortable clothes. Also it is noted that Bill Gates is the same way in lacking social skills and when he was younger showed savant autistic skills. She gives examples on how both Bill Gates and Albert Einstein rambled during speeches and would lose their train of thought.
Temple has been on the same dose of antidepressants for over ten years. "If I hadn’t been able to apply my scientific approach to problems, I would have never discovered the medications that had saved my life."
The book is dedicated to her mother and consists of eleven chapters and a detailed reference, reading and resource list. The foreword is by Oliver Sacks. There are about ten pages of photos of Temple as a child and the blueprints of the plants she has designed.
Temple designed a squeeze machine that was the result of studying the behavior of the cows during their walk through in the slaughter houses. Temple has always hated to be hugged, saying it triggered something in the nervous system. Many autistic children do crave deep pressure stimulation even though they cannot tolerate it. My son wears a weighted vest and likes backrubs. At the age of six Temple used to wrap up in blankets and get under sofa cushions due to the pressure being relaxing. This is similar to what both my boys do.
I will finish by summarizing what the chapters are referencing because I could go in detail with many more examples but think it is best to read the book.
Chapter one is about autism and visual thought
Chapter two is basically the diagnosing of autism
Chapter three is about the squeeze machine/sensory problems
Chapter four discussed emotions and autism
Chapter five is on developing autistic talent
Chapter six explores medications and therapies
Chapter seven is a dating primer for autistic individuals
Chapter eight is about connecting with cows
Chapter nine shares the understanding of animal thoughts
Chapter ten compares the link between genius and autism
Chapter eleven is on religion and belief
I do advise any relative of an autistic person read this extraordinary look at life from the perspective of one with the disability.
Originally published on Epinions
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