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VISUAL THINKING by Temple Grandin


The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions

by Temple Grandin with Betsy Lerner

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0593418369
Publisher: Riverhead

An exploration of the richness of neurodiversity.

In her memoir Thinking in Pictures, Grandin, who was not formally diagnosed with autism until she was an adult, defined herself as a visual thinker, a concept she expands in her latest examination of neurodiverse minds. “The world,” she writes, “comes to me in a series of associated visual images, like scrolling through Google images or watching the short videos on Instagram or TikTok.” Drawing on her own experiences and research as well as the findings of psychologists, neuroscientists, animal behaviorists, and educators, the author argues persuasively for the need to encourage visual and spatial thinkers who can make crucial contributions to engineering, problem-solving, inventing, and creating. Because education privileges verbal thinkers by assessing learning through written tests, and because curricula have dropped “hands-on” classes such as shop, mechanics, and home economics, Grandin asserts that visual thinkers are neither identified nor given adequate resources to develop their talents and skills. In fact, their difficulty with verbal thinking often relegates them to remedial classes. Grandin reveals, however, that many innovators in the arts and sciences and in technology were visual and spatial thinkers—and likely also on the autism spectrum— including Thomas Edison, Michelangelo, Alan Turing, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Albert Einstein. “Genius,” she writes, “requires not only intelligence and creativity but divergent thinking as well.” Grandin cites research to support the idea that combining people with different neurological strengths makes a team more successful than one composed of homogeneous thinkers. Some famous collaborators, such as Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, serve as evidence of the brilliance that results when “a verbal thinker and a spatial thinker” work together. This book itself serves as another example of a fruitful collaboration: The author submits her work to her editor and co-author, Lerner, a verbal thinker and “the master organizer of information,” who “teases out the stories behind my technical writing” and gives it shape and coherence.

A thoughtful examination of how minds work.