The Spectrum of Autism, It’s Wider than Meets the Eye

In the past decade or so we have heard more and more about Autism Spectrum Disorder. It seems that as soon as researchers discover answers, additional questions about the disorder arise (this is part of the story behind the symbol for autism society – a set of multi-colored puzzle pieces). Additionally, the public has become more aware of the characteristics of autism and finds that more people in our lives are diagnosed as autistic – both children and adults.

While I was working with autistic students in public schools several years ago, I had the honor of attending an autism inclusion conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The keynote speaker was Temple Grandin, an author and speaker that has become well-known for her inspirational and informative talks about autism from her own autistic perspective. Through her own experiences, she has allowed us to better understand autism from the point of view of someone who experiences life through the autistic lens on a daily basis.

The amazing Temple Grandin has just co-authored another book with Richard Panek that takes her understanding of autism to the next level. In the book “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum,” written with Richard Panek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) the authors explain that, “we all share characteristics with those diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s: Grandin and Panek quote a 2011 article in “Nature,” which says, “Certain autistic traits–social difficulties, narrow interests, problems with communication–form a continuum across the general population with autism at one extreme.'” and Grandin concludes, “In other words, you don’t have to have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis to be ‘on the spectrum.'”

Grandin and Panek’s conclusions about autism and its range is a new way of understanding autism and provides a new framework for understanding the disorder as a spectrum on which many more of us may find ourselves (or at least characteristics that we see in ourselves).

Through real-life examples and a bit of humor, Grandin and Panek go on to offer a variety of parenting techniques as well as practical examples of “the world through the eyes of someone on the autism spectrum” that will help all of us effectively interact with and understand the spectrum of humans that we interact with regardless of where we are on the spectrum.

If you are interested in reading more about their book, “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum” check out the article “Understanding Special Needs Like Autism Spectrum” brought to you by