Oh, I love Temple Grandin. I didn't expect that I was going to. See, there's this boy - I'll call him Blake - who comes into the library with his mom every Wednesday. He gets some movies, and his mom gets the baby sign language DVDs, and he always gets a couple of science books. He waits patiently at the desk, and he's this picture of quivery anticipation when I walk up to help him, because he knows what he has to do. And he grins and he waves, awkwardly, a sort of half-wave, practiced over and over, and he says "Hi!" and I say "Hi!" and he says "Hi!" and I say "Hi!" and his mom says, with an identical grin, "One time, Blake." After I hand him his library card back, he turns to his mom, tells her that he said hi, and gives her a giant hug, and doesn't let go until it's time to leave.
I love Blake. I look forward to helping him and his mom check out their books. And I really appreciate what Temple Grandin has written. It's not like other books about autism, written from an outsider's perspective - a doctor or a parent or a teacher. Temple writes herself. She's successful, intelligent, communicative. She is very methodical in her writing, explaining everything absolutely perfectly, ensuring you get an accurate mental picture of the way she thinks.
I can empathize with her in a lot of respects. She explains how individuals who are autistic can be sensitive to sounds. I'm not autistic, but the way my hearing aids process sounds makes me equally sensitive. The expressive way she details the sounds made me realize it's exactly the same way I feel, and I don't blame an autistic kid one bit for reacting with tantrums. It hurts when sounds physically assault you, and it's annoying when you have no way of tuning out a particular sound to focus on another.
There are other bits I sympathize with in Temple's narrative: her adherence to a (relatively) strict schedule and her inability to make small talk (oh lord, give me something to talk about besides the weather and clothes, please, or let me go back to my book). What's really nice about it, though, is I think everybody is able to sympathize with Temple at some point. If you think visually, if you make metaphors out of your life, if you empathize with animals, if you were ever a woman in a man's career field, if you feel awkward at parties, if you can't handle algebra, you'll sympathize with Temple. Even if you have experience with none of those things, Temple's writing is vivid in its descriptions. You'll feel like you know her.
The book I read contained updates at the end of each chapter. At times the updated sections weren't clearly separated from the body of the "old" text and I wasn't sure if I was reading a current narrative or a slightly outdated one. That combined with the sometimes-repetitiveness of Temple's narrative led to a few moments when I wasn't sure where I was at in the book. I did appreciate the updates, though. They made the text more modern and touched upon some new topics in autism research.
I will definitely be looking for more of Temple's books. And continue saying "Hi!" to Blake.