Decoding My Autism

For a long time, I've tried to understand what goes on in my brain. Along the way, I've learned some things and made discoveries that have helped me live a better life.

  • Dan Bell

Book Recommendation: The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

Image credit: Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I highly recommend a book I recently finished reading: The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin. If you're not familiar with Dr. Temple Grandin, she is probably the most famous autistic person in the world, She is a professor of animal science, a consultant in the livestock industry, and a spokesperson for autism.

I found many useful insights in this book, some of which you could say were life-changing for me, and have helped guide me in my work of researching and sharing about autism. It's definitely a good read for anyone wishing to better understand autism, especially caregivers.

Among the things I learned from this book:

  • The history of autism as a diagnosis and the progress of autism research.

  • Discoveries that have been made about the differences in the brain structure in autism.

  • Discoveries about how genetics can play a role, and genetic differences in autism.

  • That there can be similar symptoms in autism, but different causes for those same symptoms.

  • Challenges with sensory overload, and that both over-responding to them, and under-responding to them, can be different responses to the same challenges - similar causes on the inside, but different behavior on the outside.

  • Different types of sensory sensitivities, how to identify them, and practical tips for how to handle them.

  • The need to look past the labels and talk about the symptoms, and to look for the causes and sources of those individual symptoms.

  • The need to focus on the strengths of people with autism, not just the deficits.

  • Strengths of the autistic brain include bottom-up thinking (starting with details), associative thinking (connecting different memories, ideas, and experiences), and creative thinking (because attention to detail and the ability to connect those details can lead to creative breakthroughs).

  • The three styles of thinking in autism, each of which can come with strengths that can be harnessed: word-fact thinkers, picture thinkers, and pattern thinkers.

  • That the brain is like a muscle and that different strengths can be developed.

  • How to develop strengths to prepare people with autism for employment and success in life.

The Autistic Brain is a resource that I've found helpful in learning about autism. What books or resources have helped you? Please share in the comments!


Grandin, T., & Panek, R. (2014). The autistic brain. London: Rider Books.

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