An extraordinary view into the workings of an autistic mind. Grandin, a professor of animal behavior (Colorado State Univ.) and a world-renowned designer of livestock equipment, attributes her creativity, technical skills and understanding of animals to the autism that has set her apart from most of human society.
Unlike the rest of us, Grandin does not think in words. As she describes it, she has an ever-growing videotape library in her head, which she can manipulate like a computer program, retrieving images from memory, altering them, rotating them, combining them. So different is she that she has always felt like an outside observer, comparing herself to "an anthropologist on Mars'' (the phrase became the title of Oliver Sacks's recent book, in which he profiled Grandin; Sacks contributes a foreword to this volume). Lacking social intuition and bemused by the emotional range of others, she relies on logic and an elaborate set of rules to guide her behavior. While other humans may be a puzzlement, Grandin has a remarkable empathy for animals, especially cows (the original title for this book was A Cow's Eye View). It was her observation of cattle's reactions in squeeze chutes that led her to design a squeeze machine for herself that she uses daily to calm her anxieties. Besides revealing her own survival techniques, Grandin tries to explain the many subtypes of autism and the various drugs--antidepressants, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, etc.--that have been used to treat the disorder. Her flat, almost mechanical writing style makes these sections somewhat tedious, but the information in them will be of considerable interest to parents of autistic children. For the general reader, her revelations about herself- -growing up, meeting the right teachers, and finding the right career niche--and her insights into animals are what make this account so fascinating. Includes a resource list on autism.
The inspiring story of a courageous, dedicated and most unusual woman.