I’ve been watching talks by Dr. Temple Grandin on YouTube. I have watched her talk “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum” on the Talks by Google channel twice now and I am fascinated by how much I am learning about myself. She explains everything so, so well.
At around 13 minutes she introduces her most important slide, the ‘different kinds of minds’ slide:
Temple Grandin said she is the first one:
a Photo Realistic-Visual Thinking-Object Visualiser.
I have been thinking about this a lot, what type of thinker am I?
What type of thinker are you?
And have you read any of Temple Grandin’s books?
Some thoughts from me that I am going to post as they come out. If I try and organise them into something coherent and interesting, nothing will get posted! Classic LG: over-complicating things as usual.
- Object visualiser. I think this is the one for me. I visualise things without needing to see and touch them, then problem solve or create them.
- Web design used to be a huge hobby (or specialised interest?) of mine, alongside making Buffy fanart in Photoshop – the more layers of design the better, when I saw fanart I liked, I could visualise the intricacies of each layer in the piece before I put Photoshop to work and recreated them, better than the original.
- For websites (also self-taught from the age of 14), I design them in my mind first before I start putting them together, saves me from ever having to start all over again if I were to get the navigation system wrong.
- With my dad being a computer engineer, we’ve always had access to computers in the house for as long as I can remember. When I was 15 years old I was asking my parents for the latest Adobe Photoshop 7.0 CD for my birthday. They let me spend hours and hours on the computer recreationally because they knew I was learning something at the same time, whereas my brother wanted to play video games. Looking back that must’ve been really hard for him to be restricted on his computer time so much, when he was so academically smart, surely he could be rewarded like that? But I always got the attention on that matter. And at one point the shared family computer was even in my bedroom. No idea how I managed to win that!
- Anyway, I was so lucky that I had an outlet at home to develop that interest and skill of abstract, techy creativity. If I was born even just a few years earlier it could be a very different story.
- Nowadays, at work, being able to visualise things and create all the product lines for customers, calculate the best product configurations and design all the admin, shipping and support systems without physically making anything myself or being at our factory is really key. I cannot believe that this is unique to me in that work environment I have been in for years, and I did not know. I cannot believe that others don’t think like this? I can’t fathom how inefficient it would be to not be able to do any of this yourself at your fingertips. But it does explain a hell of a lot of the issues I had when I was training new staff members in the past. They just didn’t get it. Because they neurologically couldn’t. This blows my mind, seriously, because I thought I was normal, in that ‘if I can do it, you can too’.
- Auditory comprehension.
- Verbal instructions, directions or even short things like someone speaking out their phone number or email address by phone takes a few attempts and repeats on my side to make sure I recorded it correctly.
- If I am at a talk or lecture, I have to make tech-free written notes throughout in order to understand them properly. I keep them, but never look at them again though. One day, I tell myself, I will start a blog on business and that’s where I’ll catalogue and share them.. Hmm!
- I also can’t hear the lyrics in songs- I forever get them completely wrong or the words just sound too mumbly to make sense properly- it’s why I got into drum & bass, house and dance music at university after I discovered that words no longer had to ruin a good track!
- I often have subtitles on TV shows and movies just to make sure I am hearing everything right there too.
- I must always have written notes for meetings or difficult discussions, I can’t rely on myself to ‘wing it’ without any notes – verbally or emotionally.
- Reading comprehension.
- I am a slow reader. And I cannot skim read. I also cannot summarise what I have just read.
- I don’t know how to study / revise unless I write out everything a few times (which I never get round to doing because I start exam revision late, or I missed so many tutorials/classes in the first place so when it comes to ‘revising’ for exams, I am in fact looking at it for the first time).
- I don’t know which parts of prose to highlight. I do like making flow charts and coloured diagrams out of the text and I remember those during exams.
- Paradox: I have an incredible long-term, specific memory for detail when it comes to remembering things from emails at work.
- In my reports at school, I would get the complex maths questions right but the easy ‘common sense’ ones wrong.
- I never understood how to work out percentages until I got to work and had to know the difference between mark-up and profit margin.
- Now, the commercial side of the business- costing and pricing- are things I really enjoy. There is a great logic to maths that I didn’t get at all when I was younger. And, best of all, data don’t lie! So it makes decision-making and ‘sticking to my guns’ in negotiations so much easier because I’m not just having to trust what I think.
- I am terrible at the speaking side- understanding the grammar and constructing sentences in other languages baffles me, even though there is a logic there, perhaps I should learn Latin first and then all will be clear.
- But I am very good at remembering the vocabulary… I think this is because vocab and nouns are more easily relatable to pictures.
- However, I absolutely love the English language and my first & last blog in 2009 started out as a dedication to all my favourite words and things in it.
- I forget to ask “why?” and “what do you mean by that?” when I don’t understand something someone says and instead jump to conclusions and make assumptions that are invariably completely incorrect. I have great difficulty in cutting through the bullshit people say, the lies, I take things at face value & therefore I am not a good judge of character in general.
- Dancing. I cannot dance. I am so uncoordinated it’s not even funny, and I don’t enjoy it, even if I’m drunk. Definitely no hidden gift there. But alas, NTs love it so I had to find a way to take part. So I would ‘dance act’ the literal meanings of lyrics to songs for a laugh. A particular favourite was Mr Brightside by The Killers. Cringe.
Part 2 to come: Reflections on learning about bottom-up vs. top-down processing that Temple Grandin also talks about in her video above.