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How Temple Grandin And TED 2010 Helps Me Understand My Son

Years back some of you may remember when I finally got my answer as to what was going on with my son Brian’s learning. He was diagnosed with APD. When the Dr. read to me the common characteristics of these kids, I felt like she knew my son almost as well as I did.

Finally I had answers, and set forth a plan which allowed my son to thrive in school. Kids like my son with APD do not have a loss of hearing sensitivity, but have a hearing problem in the sense that they do not process auditory information normally.

This meant that everyone was now a tutor Brian, from my mother, my ex-husband to me. As I worked with Brian to help him come up with modifications to assist his learning (like always sitting at the front of class) I felt his APD was also more of a way he looked at the world, and a way in which he thought about how the world around him works.

He hates to write, but can tell stories. He loves Math and excels at it. He loves Honors Science and is fascinated by space. Reading bores him, but he can win a new video game in 24 hours. He likes computers, music, weight lifting, building stacks of things and drawing. He loves to work on comedy and is always trying to twist comebacks into something that gets a belly laugh. He has an amazing ability to memorize entire movies right down to quoting what was said. He likes anything that is new that challenges the way he thinks.

Sometimes his thoughts move faster than he can get them out of his mouth.  His father and I have to remind him to take a breath so that is lips can catch up to the story he is sharing.

He is always in his head. It must be an amazing place.

Through all these years I have tried to understand why his mind works the way it does, and the other night I began to watch the new TED video releases from TED2010. By happenstance I clicked on one called, Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.  She talks about how her mind works in this video. She shares her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neuro-typical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

HBO has produced a full-length film on telling her story. She fascinates me, and gave me the answer to how my son’s brain works. After watching her video, I asked Brian how he sees problems and solves them. He casually answered, “I see them as images projected side by side or as random patterns I pull together into a clear picture.”


My son thinks in patterns and pictures. No wonder he hates to write. He is not a bad writer, he just hates it.

This week instead of my usual parenting humor, I am sharing the TED video, because the world needs to understand how different minds work, especially those of our emerging children. And if you are struggling with your child in school, maybe this video will help you open up a conversation about how they view the world, and you may be lucky enough to gain an understanding of how their mind works.  Trust me, you are in for a fun ride.

She is brilliant.

It gives us hope for the future. How I love TED videos.

Until next time –



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About Catherine, the redhead mom blogger

Catherine’s hopes to make this blog a safe place for thyroid sufferers to come laugh and share the funnier side of thyroid disease while raising awareness around the world. She is a published author, known for her humorous speeches on finding your dream life and blogging for fun and profit. Catherine writes about her dream life at, 8 Women Dream and several online marketing publications. She would also like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations. Catherine posts on M/W/F. Join me on Google+ rapieress@aol.com

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2 Responses to How Temple Grandin And TED 2010 Helps Me Understand My Son

  1. Kim March 1, 2010 at 1:51 am #

    This is absolutely inspirational. I recall having seen her on a documentary.

    I know of at least one child who would have benefited greatly, had their parents understood what Temple just explained in this video. It makes me wonder whether many of the children who don’t fit into the prescribed classroom mold nowadays, and are being drugged, might simply need understanding and reevaluation.

  2. Mirjam de Rijk March 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My brother always struggled in school, mom wanted him in special ed, when they tested him he was too ‘smart’ for special ed. I am glad there is more awareness and knowledge about the different ways our brain works. I am glad you found out about Brianand are able to help him. I remember my parents feeling helpless and a little desperate. My brother is in his 40’s right now and is doing well in life. He is an elevator mechanic who is good at solving problems and coming up with creative solutions. I am sure Brian will do well in life. He has a terrific mom anyway.

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