Thinking in Pictures

Isn't this a terrible cover? There was a 2010 telemovie biopic about Temple Grandin, which apparently used to be on Netflix, but isn't anymore (I looked it up). I'm not sure I would have chosen Claire Danes to play Temple, and this cover image has a very peculiar vibe, but it's the content that matters, right?

Temple Grandin's book, Thinking in Pictures, was, as far as I know, the first first-person account of living with autism. Grandin is well-known as a designer of humane equipment for handling cattle; about a third of slaughterhouses and cattle facilities in the US use her designs. She has a gift for imagining situations and seeing them as a cow would; she knows what startles and frightens them, and her designs eliminate things like dark shadows, sudden colour contrasts, and slippery ramps. She knows that cows are calmer when they can touch each other, and that they will follow peacefully a curved walkway where they can't see too far ahead. Grandin loves animals and has an intense fellow-feeling for cattle, and she sees it as her mission to make the experience of slaughter as compassionate and serene as possible.

Grandin's account of the way she sees the world and the way she thinks  -- not in words, but in associations of images -- is absolutely fascinating. I'm not sure that the medical research she cites is totally up to date anymore, but she is very thorough in wanting to understand her own neurological differences and brings the vividness of lived experience. The chapters do jump around in a disconnected way, but that only adds to the authenticity of her account. A really interesting and enlightening read.

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