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Autism Spectrum Disorder - Temple Grandin is NOT "Rainman"

Updated on February 25, 2011

Are all autistics "Rainman"?

Autism Spectrum Disorder - A constellation of behavioral patterns that defy simple generalizations.
Autism Spectrum Disorder - A constellation of behavioral patterns that defy simple generalizations.

What I used to think...

I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. Therefore, my views are that of a lay person.

Before one of my family members was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I thought all afflicted with autism were like Dustin Hoffman's character Raymond Babbit. My view of this disorder was simplistic because I was ignorant. Since that time I have come to appreciate the tremendous range of behaviors and intensities encompassed by ASD. Before my relative was diagnosed, I though that all boys who did not speak much were the "strong, silent type". Before my loved one was diagnosed, I did not understand that loud sounds, intense colors, bright lights, and loud groups of people could create a high level of anxiety in some.

Temple Grandin - The face of autism

Learn about Dr. Temple Grandin on

My journey included looking through the eyes of Temple Grandin

Information and learning are components of the cure for a lack of understanding. I am an auditory learner so my journey out of the "Valley of Ignorance" began by listening to NPR programs on related to Autism.

I learned that those afflicted with ASD can have a wide range of behaviors. I also learned that the close relatives of the Autistic individual exhibit many similar behaviors and that the difference may lie only in the degree that these characteristics are expressed. For example, I tend to be extremely focused in many activities such as computer programming or watching movies and have been known to either "not hear" or block out those around me. Many with ASD experience such behaviors to a greater or lesser degree.

It was through this journey that I came across a remarkable woman, Dr. Temple Grandin, who helped me understand some of what it feels to be autistic. You experience the world differently if you have ASD. Sounds may be louder, colors may be brighter or, as in Dr. Grandin's case, you learn everything in pictures.

Dr. Temple Grandin - "Different but not less"

As I listened to Dr. Grandin speak on the CD, I learned that some with ASD may not be able to experience emotion in the same way that we do. They also may not be able to pick up on facial cues that provide the context to acceptance or rejection of certain behaviors that "typical" children do.

This week, my wife and I watched an HBO movie titled "Temple Grandin" starring Claire Danes, and Julia Ormond, which tells the story of how this remarkable individual grew from a child who could not speak until she was nearly four years old, to a college professor with a Doctorate degree, an author and inventor.

Temple's mother referred to her as "different but not less", as she worked to help her assimilate into society. She provided her with the cues to understand what most of us take for granted such as the shape of faces when they are happy, sad, and angry. She never gave up on her child. I have come to develop a deep admiration for the parents of children with ASD for I see the same determination in them.

It is through Dr. Grandin's words that I came to understand that not everyone sees the world in the same way I do (fortunately for the rest of the world). She helped me to understand that these children see things in ways that we can not dream of and because of that, can contribute to our society if we give them a chance.

Temple Grandin - A remarkable woman

Autism Videos on Amazon

Early identification and an understanding heart is the key

Every parent wants their child to be healthy and at the top of their class.  God made each of us a little different.  Some of us are great in math and other hate it.  Some can sing like a bird and some are tone deaf.  Some are born "typical" and some are born with ASD. 

If the child seems to have a delay in speaking, it does not mean that they have ASD but it is something to keep in the back of your mind.  If the child does always respond to you, there can be a multitude of reasons including the fact that they may have difficulty hearing.   If you get the "feeling" that there may be a concern, have it worked up - there is no harm in doing this.  According to what I have heard, the earlier the diagnosis, the earlier the treatment and the easier it will be to help the child address the behaviors that might prevent them from being all that they can be.

I encourage all that read this Hub to get the HBO movie "Temple Grandin" and I sincerely hope that you will be as moved as I was.

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    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 7 years ago

      Pamela - The wonderful thing about Dr. Grandin is she helps us gain a greater level of insight into how an individual with autism spectrum disorder perceives the world. In doing so, she helps us understand how to more effectively understand and relate to them.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Good blog. Temple Grandin is an inspiration to many young women with Asperger's.

    • aikidk01 profile image

      aikidk01 7 years ago

      MBP42 - This is great information that the readers should access. You are so right. Early identification, and action is the best choice. I believe that Temple Grandin's story can help those that do not understand ASD develop a sensitivity toward it.

    • MBP42 profile image

      MBP42 7 years ago from have received my official license as a Pastor, praise God

      Parents of children who are not developing in a timely fashion are often told by their doctors that there is nothing wrong. Parents should be aware that language issues are best diagnosed by a speech language pathologist. Early intervention is crucial to stopping the development of learning problems that can plague a child throughout life. If you think your child has a problem try going to and looking for a speech language pathologist in your area. You can also find information on child language development.