Home » The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Dr. Temple Grandin (Full Transcript)

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Dr. Temple Grandin (Full Transcript)

But you get a little bit of – you know, you get the creative people. There tends to be relatives of people that may have bipolar disorder. There’s more techies in the autism careers. Now the thing is, an autism diagnosis is not precise. And over the years they kept changing the diagnosis. In the early ’90s, they put in Asperger’s, where now just geeks and nerds with no speech delay become autistic. Then in 2013 they took that out. So now you’ve got this great big mucky autism diagnosis that goes from heads of Silicon Valley companies down to people that remain nonverbal and cannot dress themselves. So you’ve got this huge spectrum.

Okay, maybe that’s heresy that I put his picture up here. But I promised that I would only talk about dead ones and stuff I could dig off of publicly available things, like a very popular book that’s out now. Now the thing I want to get you to think about is what would happen to little Albert today. Little Albert Einstein. He had no language until he was three years old. Wasn’t very social, liked to line up blocks. He’d probably be labeled autistic spectrum today.

And little Stevie. Oh, weird loner. This is right out of publicly available information. A weird, weird loner that brought snakes to his elementary school and turned them loose. And then he was bullied and bullied and bullied and teased, and what saved him was getting out in the neighborhood computer club. This brings up a really important thing. Getting these teenagers that are kind of different, now today they’re getting addicted to video games. Sometimes getting addicted to video games and get an autism diagnosis and get paid Social Security to play video games. You have people saying I’m too much down on video games.

8Well, I was just down at JPL yesterday. And if you want to work at JPL all day and play video games at night, I don’t have a problem with that. What I’m getting concerned about is the kid that’s getting addicted to video games and they’re not getting a job at JPL. That concerns me very, very much. And so he was bullied. And then when he went to work for Atari, he was such a filthy slob they made him come in at night. No, being a filthy slob’s not okay. And there’s a scene in the movie where they slam down a deodorant and they said, “You stink. Use it.” That actually happened. This is where bosses are going to just have to give some instruction on how to behave at work. And being an absolutely filthy, dirty slob I don’t think is going to be very acceptable here either. It’s just too gross.

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Now I like to look at personality differences sort of like a music mixing board. It’s not black and white. If I get a diagnosis for tuberculosis, that’s definite. I either got tuberculosis or I don’t. Or I’ve either had tuberculosis or I didn’t. So when I check the Australian customs form, which I did two months ago, I can check “I have never had tuberculosis.” That’s definite. When you see autism, that’s a much more gray area.

Geeks and nerds, when does that turn into mild autism? No black or white dividing line. It’s a continuous trait. And if you got rid of this trait completely, you won’t have any new employees. It’s just that simple.

Now I am a total visual thinker. I think in photo-realistic pictures. I don’t think in words. So when I think about designing something, I can test run it and see it in my head in 3D. Before 3D virtual reality computer programs were invented, I could sit in a conference room and they could try stuff. And I could say, well yeah, if you do that, that’s not going to work.

And you might wonder why is the chute curved? Well, as the cattle come on around the bend, they think they’re going back to where they came from. And that’s one of the reasons why that works. I always get asked all the time questions like, do cows know they’re going to get slaughtered? I had to answer that question very early in my career. And I found they behaved exactly the same way at a slaughter plant as they behaved going up a chute for the veterinarian. It’s not stress free. But the amount of stress they have in both of those places is approximately the same.

In fact, I just updated that literature for my class slides and it’s still the same. They tell us to do blood samples in both places. Yeah, it can vary from very little stress to higher stress, but it’s about the same in the two different places. Well, when you’re a weird geek, one of the things I’ve found is that the way that I had to sell myself was by showing off my work. You sell your work rather than yourself. So I put portfolios together. Okay, I’d say the quality of this projector’s about medium good. I’ve had ones where it’s shown up better than this.

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