Thinking in pictures: And other reports from my life with autism by Temple Grandin reviewed by tutor, John Toker

Temple’s Characteristics of Autism

Grandin has visual images for facts not just concrete examples; it is like a language that instantly translates from spoken word or written ones. Temple is able to think in 3-D pictures and movies in order to understand concepts that were taught to her in school, which includes her time in graduate school, and to design animal farm equipment.

Grandin can recall each work design that she has ever made in head page; she can then mix and match to make new ones.

Temple can see animal perspective on what frightens them; this is especially the case when analyzing cattle. Grandin had a squeeze machine for own anxiety, which helps her understand what kind of closed in spaces are particularly stressful. Temple takes into account the wide eye angles of cows and how this changes their points of views (Grandin 2006).

Temple looks to not reinvent the wheel by researching out what is already understood or invented in her farm equipment field.

Differences Between Temple and Other Individuals with ASD

Temple can get back on task where as most with ASD keep free associating without focus. Most people with ASD can not make something new out of a mix of memories. Temple brings up many videos in her mind, and must sort through them. ASD can bring up still photos, rather than with movement; further, they often lack judgment on what to do with the information. People with ASD, as Grandin conveys, usually only focus on details, rather than big picture (Grandin 2006).

Philosophy, and for example cattle futures, are problematic subjects for Temple, because she struggles with making pictures or videos of them in her mind. Also, subjects that inherently lack single right answers are too vague and therefore, in part, cannot be pictured even with her imagination (Grandin 2006).

Temple at age six liked the word prosecution so said it when she flew a kite that hit the ground; albeit, she quickly connects one type of animal chute to many variations of it. Dove’s in Temple’s mind represent peace; this example is an intuitively obvious association for those who can think on an abstract level. Temple has logical and illogical association where as individuals with ASD, according to Grandin, tend to have illogical connections only. Many people with ASD would not understand, “We will play it by ear.”

Specific information is used by Grandin to make generalizations; she associates, rather than processes chronological order of events; this is why cattle futures does not work for her analytic methodology (Grandin 2006).

Generic or synthesis concepts require different neurological patterns than what is the case for Temple. Rather, she remembers each example either seen or pictured from being described to her. Conversely to Temple, many with ASD make wrong correlations so that they often misattribute causality; for example, a toy plane can fly high because there is no fear of them.

Grandin acquired engineer style and skills in drawing by watching an advanced skilled person illustrate it, rather than needing class work in it and respective supervision. Most with ASD would need intensive formal instruction on how to draw with advanced skill (Grandin 2006).

Temple’s Struggles in School and School-based Interventions

Temple, at age 2.5, was enrolled in a special school. Grandin if left alone would not learn enough to function in society. Albeit, if overloaded with attention was quick to scream and then shut down. Grandin’s nanny kept her active outdoors with many activities and provided indoor art time, which helped her invent animal systems. Grandin’s mother tutored Temple five days a week for language at age 3; she was able to make essential progress in milestone development because of this. Teachers learned to not get angry at Grandin during elementary school and to take her out of noisy places; this would allow her to cope with stress (Grandin 2006).

Abstract concepts taught in school were initially beyond Grandin’s grasp; she learned to associate pictures that were symbolic of concepts and store them.  For example, she thought of peace in the form of a dove; she was able to develop this process because of a general encouragement from her science teacher in particular and other educators. Psychotherapist and psychiatrist encouraged Temple to stop with metaphorical thinking with pictures and instead be language based; she new they were wrong and ignored them (Grandin 2006).

Personal relationships were not important during elementary school through high school. Albeit, she learned the value of relationships with picture imagery of windows and doors.

Grandin, while in high school was made front of for being like a tape recorder when she spoke; this meant that there was a mechanical meter to her speech.

After graduating from high school, Temple realized that this way of speaking would be odd to them.

Grandin found that rehearsing change while going through windows and doors only in     her mind helped emotionally prepare her for college. A new roof seen in real life facilitated picture imagery for going to college as well.

After graduating from college, she no longer needed windows, gates, roofs or the like for transition,.

Self induced pressure physical pressure allowed Temple to lower her own anxiety. Worries, by Grandin, centered on being teased at school. Temple as she got older took prescribed medication, and at this point was helped by psychiatrists.

Grandin’s mother felt that Temple did not appreciate the hard work that was put forth to help her with school. Grandin feels that she is less motivated by emotions than her mother; Temple relates to engineers and scientists because they are fact first and emotion second. Ultimately, Grandin accepted that her mother saw her as ungrateful for all the help and sacrifices made for her. Albeit, Temple dedicated this book with gratitude for all her dedication and support, in part, to her mother (Grandin 2006).

Temple was expelled for throwing a book at someone who was teasing her; she in turn went to special boarding school. Temple’s science teacher encouraged her to apply symbolic windows toward reading philosophy books, and laws of science in order to understand squeeze machines; psychiatrists and psychotherapists discouraged her from applying personal interests and learning style toward understanding such subjects. Further, research skills at the library were developed because of the inspiration of the science teacher. Skill in library research were essential because her time in high school and preparing for college was prior to the Internet.

Grandin had support from several teachers, in college, which included psychological encouragement and tutoring page. Permission for Temple to do a thesis on animal chutes was initially met with resistance; finally she sought out some professors who would let her do so (Grandin 2006).

Temple’s Struggles and Triumphs in the Workplace

Grandin argued with other engineers about how to construct a cattle chute and was fired due to this, albeit she proved to be right months later. Temple learned that her engineer peers were not trying to be difficult, being stupid or too lazy to understand her ideas. Rather, Grandin pointed out that they could not visualize what she was trying to tell them (Grandin 2006).

Temple learned to not get frustrated with verbal thinkers, whom often had vague pictures in mind when listening to her descriptions of cattle systems. Temple learned to criticize tactfully when confronting a co-workers about gaps in their designs or the implementation of them; this allowed her to keep working in the field of work.

Grandin was told to improve her personal hygiene; she learned to shower more often and to where clean clothes (Grandin 2006).

Grandin sent her portfolio for freelance work to potential employers instead of attending formal interviews; she knew that her affect of poor eye contact and being nervous would weaken the impressions of her during interviewers.

My Personal Growth and Learning

My personal growth and learning stem from knowing that the more I see from an ASD point of view, the more I can help those with related issues.

Temple modeled reinforced for me a teaching technique when tutoring people with ASD issues by slowing down when doing work and in turn helping them improve quality of it. Although I have had my students slow down in order to produce their best work, my understanding of this is now at a higher level than before reading this book. Further, in order to have a more vivid analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, my pace in assessing students is slowed down to even further.

My plan as a tutor is to give individuals with ASD more pictures that reflect words; for example “is” or ‘to be.” will have pictures that the students while guided by me will select for themselves. Some may chose an image of  something that “is” to be a camera: it symbolizes whatever is in the eye of a lens as simply being what it is. Others may chose Shakespeare who is known for, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

I have learned that some people with ASD can have cognitive and emotional break through even in their twenties and onward; I will avoid type casting even if it looks like the individuals are destined to be the same for the rest of their lives. I realize to a greater degree that different types of ASD thinkers include those who visualize in pictures, imagine in music, see life through the lens of math or process the meaning of life and all other aspects of it in written or spoken language form

I realize to a greater extent that children with ASD avoid social conflicts that relate to lack of eye contact and verbal mono tone by socializing through the Internet; texting allows the many who have these issues to escape harassment .

My fortitude to help students with ASD apply their strengths more, rather than focusing on their weaknesses is greater now that I have read this book.


Grandin, T. (2006). Thinking in pictures: And other reports from my life with autism (2nd Vintage Books ed.). New York: Vintage Books.

Tutor John Toker web site to help people with ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Autism, Asperger, Executive Function Disorder

Austism, ASD, impact on families discussion by tutor, John Toker

The impact of autism on each member of the family:

Family dynamics vary in a home that has someone with ASD, in part, due to how many children within their system, their gender, their ages, and personalities; girls have shown, in lower grades, to be more depressed with a sibling that has the common need for an inordinate amounts of time and attention. Males have well documented cases of feeling neglected and have negative outlooks on life, also. Albeit, their are exceptions to both males and females. Parents’ coping skills and ability to negotiate and be composed while interacting with each other and their children sets the tone for how boys and girls feel about their siblings with ASD; if parents are positive, and are still focused on the other children’s needs, then it is more likely that the offsprings will feel like their lives matter, and therefore not be inclined to be morose in affect. Naturally, more research needs to be done on family dynamics as it applies to those who have people with ASD in their families (Boutot, & Myles 2011).

Discussion of the impact on siblings:

Siblings of people with ASD are more likely to feel depressed than mainstream society; albeit a relative few studies do not substantiate this and more research on the subject needs to take place. People with ASD take up a disproportionate amount of time by their parents. Consequently, brothers and sisters feel ignored about their problems, and feelings often go ignored in the process. Parents often argue more because of the stress of raising children with ASD, so siblings are exposed to a greater degree of emotional tension in the family; they in turn feel bad by being in such an environment. Once parents of people with ASD pass away, there is a great deal of pressure on siblings to find appropriate living arrangements for those with ASD; they often feel guilty about not finding better housing for them and about the paucity of time they have for them (Boutot, & Myles 2011).

Discussion on the impact of parents:

Mother’s regardless of culture, in the vast majority of cases, feel the most responsibility to care for their children who are on the spectrum of autism. Albeit, father’s, especially in the US and relatively few other countries, feel pressure to do more for their children who have issues with ASD. Parents are more likely to have greater marital problems because they start blaming each other for why their kids have learning and emotional issues. Albeit, there are some few exceptions when mothers and fathers refer to their sons and sometimes daughters with ASD as gifts to their families; their added struggles made them focus more on the emotional well being of their families as a whole (Boutot, & Myles 2011).

Importance of communication and collaboration with families:

Parents have mistrust toward teachers and school administers, and often feel that they are unsupported in their efforts to encounter ASD issues for their boys and girls; teachers and professionals should not take it personally. Communication among instructors, mothers, fathers, and guardians is core to effectively addressing students’ ASD ongoing needs. Many progenitors lack financial means, emotional support, respite via babysitting, respective educational resources, and access to extra curricular activities within the community.

Strategies for communicating with parents:

1. Provide a comprehensive needs assessment for parents who have ASD issues in their families; allow them to  feel comfortable about which questions they answer in it. Give mothers and fathers information about resources in their school districts, state, including Federal funding, and outside in general society that will serve as emotional support, edification about ASD, and in some case financial support.

2. Parent night is used by some teachers so that information about resources for ASD may be disseminated to mothers, fathers and guardians. Teachers can in so delegate support that would not be financially feasible, and go beyond the bounds of their role in helping such children (Boutot, & Myles 2011).

3. Post on school hall bulletin boards information about ASD sources of support that parents may use in their community; it should include what is explained, as best possible, during parent night.


Boutot, A., & Myles, B. (2011). Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders. In Autism Spectrum Disorders Foundations, Characteristics, and Effective Strategies (pp. 93-115). Pearson.

Tutor John Toker web site to help people with ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia,

Tutor John Toker, Autism, Asperger, ADHD, Dyslexia, Executive Function Disorder

Unstrange Minds by Dr. Richard Grinker discussion about why Austism and Asperger are diagnosed in the USA compared to some other countries by tutor, John Toker

The impact of culture and location on a family’s response to ASD.

In contrast to the United States and other countries, for example England, India has relatively little educational intervention for those with ASD. In general, those diagnosed on the spectrum are either referred to as retarded or labeled with a euphemism as such by calling them Autistic. Pediatricians and other doctors either acknowledge that they do not know what the ASD includes or they assert that their patients lack sufficient education to understand the ramifications and techniques to help their children with this diagnosis.

Mothers, also in India, are usually blamed for their children being Autistic; relatives claim that they are overprotective of them and in so deprive such individuals of opportunities to socialize. Realistically, mothers in India are under tremendous pressure and strain due to the lack of support that is essential for anyone raising children with ASD; the fathers almost always abstain from directly caring for such individuals. Albeit, Grinker suggests that access to the Internet may lead to a progressive approach in aiding those with Autism.

The impact of autism on the siblings and parents of a child with ASD.

Despite having a relatively high level of professional help in the US when compared to many other parts of the world, parents often feel frustrated that they are not able to help their children with ASD at an adequate level; they often do not see themselves and professionals as having the appropriate training or correct ratio between student and teacher. Albeit, some areas of the United States disproportionately have superior resources for those with such learning issues; they tend to be relatively wealthy districts.

Siblings often feel ignored by their parents because those with ASD require an inordinate amount of attention. They usually have to be quite around siblings with ASD because outburst from being over stimulated are likely to happen otherwise. Olivia, Isabel’s sister was unusual in that she was able to cope far better than most siblings in such situation; typically, they will be stressed out and feel isolated in facing their own problems and worries.

The experiences of the Grinker family had in dealing with their child’s autism and the school system

Roy Grinker found Applied Behavioral Analysis, ABA, to be too expensive and tried with his wife to create structure that would be similar to it. Grinker and his wife, Joyce, found it exhausting and too difficult to do. Floortime, by Dr. Stanley Greenspan required Roy and Joyce to engage in a social exchange with Isabel; they sat on the floor and increased length and complexity of interacting with her. Grinker and his wife found this to tiring and that Isabel wound up crying about it.

Although Isabel had marked gaps in speech and language, her visual and spatial skills were relatively strong for her. Pre-school at the Smithsonian’s Institution’s Early Enrichment center helped Isabel with some added sense of structure and especially socialization; albeit, issues with ASD, sensory integration, being hypersensitive to environmental sounds, while lacking sufficient sensitivity to pain continued to be problematic for her.

Grinker learned that Isabel was able to  connect her visual and tactile learning skills to her verbal gaps; museums were especially edifying for her. Classifications in biology were particularly interesting and an area of strength for Isabel; this was partly a result of going see them at a zoo and in a museum and to a some extent being part of  the social dynamic of it all. Language for Isabel and people in general, as the author discovered, could only be developed on the ‘scaffolding’ of social interaction; this began with Isabel developing eye contact skills.

Once Isabel started kindergarten, she was in a Montgomery County public school, which was one in Maryland. Her first teacher lacked patience and skill to educate Isabel; the principal did not support one on one teaching and could not articulate the meaning of ASD. Albeit, other educators as the years progressed were highly praised by Grinker because they were competent and effective in helping Isabel learn in school.

Isabel excelled particularly in zoology.

John Toker has a Master’s Degree in Education with a Concentration in LD K-12, and a Master’s Degree in Psychological Services with a Concentration in Counseling with a Post Master’s in Counseling. John is a tutor for Autism, Asperger’s, Dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, Executive Function Disorder and other learning issues. John taught in FCPS, and MCPS; he is usually a tutor in Northern Virginia, especially Fairfax County including McLean, Vienna, Reston VA and other areas in Fairfax County and sometimes a tutor in MCPS, in particular Potomac MD, Bethesda MD, and Rockville MD within Montgomery County.

Tutor John Toker web site to help people with ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Autism, Asperger, Executive Function Disorder

Unstrange Minds by Dr. Grinker Discussion of the book on why Autism diagnosis has increased over the recent years presented by tutor John Toker

Possible causes for the rise in ASD diagnoses

Research based standards for diagnosing people with ASD became the norm; this increased the rate of diagnosing conversely to the past individuals were wrongly ascribed with other diagnoses. Clinicians are more aware of ASD, and therefore are systematically looking to rule out early indications of it. Prior to extensive research substantiating ASD and the Internet to inform people of ASD, there was a tendency to misattribute symptoms of it. Many doctors would simply call it normal, while others would simply label them as mentally retarded.

Once people with ASD received early intervention in terms of socialization and other forms of education, there was marked improvement in the respective students’ interpersonal skills and cognitive capacity to learn in general; they far exceeded experts expectations. Consequently, there was proof that ASD was often the proper diagnosis for many who had earlier been deemed to have unrelated issues (Grinker, 2008).

Opinion related to the increased prevalence of ASD

Early diagnosis of those with ASD allows them to cognitively develop to a degree that often exceeds mental retardation; some are able to illustrate superiority to the general population. Such finding evoke support by the general public to increase awareness and funding to help people with ASD. Consequently, parents are more likely to be educated about the diagnosis and doctors anticipate that they will be expected to rule out whether ASD is the case; such influence raises the likelihood that it will be the diagnosis in any given pediatric evaluation (Boutot, & Myles 2011).

How the rise in diagnoses will impact teachers and schools

Public school funding increases as more people per capita are diagnosed with ASD, which results in hiring more people for team teaching. People who teach together will need more planning time between them during free periods; they will need to in many cases coordinate who is leading and who is working with individuals. Sometimes, there will be different ways of setting up the structure of classes. For example, a class may be split into half as if they were separate courses and therefore only one teacher per group (Vaughn, & Bos 2007). Political power to vie for better results when teaching those with ASD is greater, and therefore there is more pressure on instructors to succeed in their respective efforts (Grinker, 2008).


Boutot, A., & Myles, B. (2011). Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders. In Autism Spectrum Disorders Foundations, Characteristics, and Effective Strategies (pp. 34-67). Pearson.

Grinker, R. (2008). Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism (pp. 1-172). Basic Books.

Vaughn, S., & Bos, C. (2007). Response to Intervention: Developing Success for All Learners. In Teaching students who are exceptional, diverse, and at risk in the general education classroom (4th ed., p. 350 to 398). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

John Toker has a Master’s Degree in Education with a Concentration in LD K-12, and a Master’s Degree in Psychological Services with a Concentration in Counseling with a Post Master’s in Counseling. John is a tutor for Autism, Asperger’s, Dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, Executive Function Disorder and other learning issues. John taught in FCPS, and MCPS; he is usually a tutor in Northern Virginia, especially Fairfax County including McLean, Vienna, Reston VA and other areas in Fairfax County and sometimes a tutor in MCPS, in particular Potomac MD, Bethesda MD, and Rockville MD within Montgomery County.

Tutor, John Toker, web site to help people with ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Autism, Asperger, Executive Function Disorder

Tutor explains DSM V brings Autism, Aspergers, ASD under one diagnostic umbrella

Previously a tutor would expect children to have different diagnoses whether Autism or Asperger’s Disorder in the DSM IV. The DSM V is a statistical manual that reflects the criteria in which people may be diagnosed as being on the spectrum of Autism. Students who need a tutor, IEP services at school and other educational assistance among professionals are no longer diagnosed separately with Asperger’s, rather anyone on the spectrum of Autism, ASD, is diagnosed as being Autistic; albeit, there are types of autism delineated in any given diagnosis of it. Core illustrations of Autistic behavior or paucity in affect in order to meet the criteria are as follows: poor social communication and related interpersonal skills, repetitive kinesthetic actions and narrow scope of interests, gaps in interacting with others and obsessive behavior present at early age. The following links delineates the specific details of Autism as reflected as a diagnosis in the DSM V:

Asperger’s Disorder is not a diagnosis in the DSM V; tutors, teachers and other educational professionals should be aware of this. Naturally as a tutor, I understand that students with Asperger’s may not want to be under one ASD diagnosis of Autism.

John Toker has a Master’s Degree in Education with a Concentration in LD K-12, and a Master’s Degree in Psychological Services with a Concentration in Counseling with a Post Master’s in Counseling. John is a tutor for Autism, Asperger’s, Dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, Executive Function Disorder and other learning issues. John taught in FCPS, and MCPS; he is usually a tutor in Northern Virginia, especially Fairfax County including McLean, Vienna, Reston VA and other areas in Fairfax County and sometimes a tutor in MCPS, in particular Potomac MD, Bethesda MD, and Rockville MD within Montgomery County.

Breaking Stereotypes about Learning Issues

Learning issues are too often connected to assumptions about respective abilities; ordinary people assume that those with them have too many obstacles to succeed in life. Albeit, many biographies reflect those with problems in school as part of their history to be highly accomplished in the work world. Business people, scientists artist and of many other professions learned to make their learning problems assets to excelling well beyond their peers. Ironically, many of those who teased people for having learning issues were simply good at memorizing school curriculum; they often had far less ability than those subject to criticism. It is essential that biographies of accomplished people are studied by those with learning challenges and those helping them. My tutoring services help students free themselves from stereotypes.

Article about Roger Federer and Setting Goals

The following article:

It is about keeping your goals alive, in part, by not focusing too much on others’ great achievements. Tutoring in person or via online education can help students build their own academic and career dreams. Many need help with homework; they have math problems, writing assignments, science projects, or challenges in other subjects like history. Regardless, celebrities can be a distraction because people often vicariously live through their lives, rather than their own. Albeit, people who have achieved greatness can serve as role models; they just need to be analyzed as to their impact and put into perspective.

Stay With Winning Formula for Success

Dear students and parents:

Once students with learning issues start to get better grades, too many try to stop with the added support that helped them make progress. It is best to stay with a winning formula until respective parents and teachers can be fully confident that added assistance is not necessary. People generally need added help until the end of any given year; this is because curriculum by its nature becomes harder throughout a school year. One may risk losing a great tutor because he or she has replaced the person with another student and is booked for the rest of the academic year.


John Toker, M.Ed. LD K-12, M.A.

Hello Parents and Students!

Welcome to Learn Differently Tutor blog!

I am John Toker. My tutor practice is in place so that I may help those with learning issues. Fortunately, my students and their parents all work as a team in order move forward in scholastic goals. Tutoring takes place at their home, Skype, public facilities or at my office. You can learn more about me and my tutoring practice at

Here is a link to an article that I wrote:
It is about ADHD. Readers learn about how ADHD can be a strength when addressed with the right tutor.