Temple Grandin: Different Kinds of Minds

Temple Grandin: Different Kinds of Minds

By Curtis Eayrs
Temple Grandin signing her book for Curtis

Professor, inventor and author Temple Grandin spoke to a sold-out audience Thursday, March 8th at UW’s Kane Hall. This lecture was sponsored by the UW Graduate School and UW Alumni Association. Before the lecture, there was a meet-a nd-greet opportunity where the audience could meet Temple and have photos taken with her. Temple’s speaking style was candid, filled with humor, and demonstrated her passion for striving to help society better understand the complexities of the autistic mind. She discusses four different types of thinking: 1) Photo Realistic Visual Thinking; 2) Pattern Thinker; 3) Verbal Facts Language Translation Thinking; and 4) Auditory Thinking. She believes the American educational system doesn’t adequately address variability in these thinking styles in today’s K-12 public education system. Compared to America, Europeans use many different educational models in teaching their children that recognize different thinking styles. Hence, the outcome of this holistic approach is that Western Europe is significantly increasing its workforce, technical and skilled trades’ prowess in the highly-competitive global marketplace for talent.

She also mentioned that creative geniuses such as Thomas Alva Edison and Albert Einstein might be labeled as being on the autism spectrum if they were raised in modern-day society. Temple prescribed seven rules for maximizing likelihood of successful integration of children with ASD into becoming functional adults:

  • Follow your passion, and learn everything you can about it.
  • Live life.
  • Be yourself, but you have to fit in a little.
  • Develop your talents.
  • Perfect is not possible.
  • Work hard.
  • Never stop learning.

I thoroughly enjoyed Temple’s lecture and applaud her perseverance overcoming obstacles of her retroactive autistic diagnosis, demonstrating by her accomplishments what is truly possible if you put your mind to it. After the event, I was inspired to buy a couple of her books to learn more about her views on the autistic mind, from the viewpoint of a “subject matter expert.” She serves as an excellent role model for those who are on the autism spectrum and has very practical advice for moving children from “out of the basement playing video games all day.”

The UW Graduate School moderator mentioned that a podcast of this lecture will be available soon.  If you want to learn more about Temple Grandin’s story, HBO created a 2010 film titled “Temple Grandin” starring Claire Danes as the title character.

Curtis with Temple Grandin and his father