Review of The Autistic Brain

Posted on June 25, 2013

To many, Temple Grandin is the public face of autism. A professor of animal science at Colorado State University, Grandin’s story has significantly increased autism awareness around the world, and has increased society’s appreciation of the unique and positive characteristics of the autistic mind. Therefore, it is with immense respect, enthusiasm, and attention to detail that I read her new book The Autistic Brain. Unfortunately, I was left feeling deeply frustrated by a book that felt to me like it was written by a few different people who frequently contradict each other.

One voice that runs through The Autistic Brain is that of the cautious scientist, rightfully pointing out the limitations of brain scanning and genetic fishing, and highlighting the importance of taking into account contextual and environmental factors when attempting to understand the development of autistic symptoms.

Grandin argues that “patterns seem to be part of who we are,” it occurred to me that her argument is very similar to the argument Daniel Bor makes in his 2012 book “The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning.” In his stimulating book, Bor makes the persuasive case that humans are meaning making machines, and links consciousness to a particular form of information processing associated with selective attention and chunking. In fact, Bor explicitly makes the same connection that Grandin does– between chunking and pattern thinking in autism. So it was neat to see such convergence across very different books.

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Category(s):Autism spectrum disorders

Source material from Scientific American

Mental Health News