altTemple Grandin (HBO, NR)

Why are you reading this post when you could be rushing to your nearest video store (is that phrase as passé as "dialing a phone number"?) and grabbing a copy of Temple Grandin?  It would be trite to say that this is one of the most amazing and inspiring movies I have ever seen, though it is.  It would be understatement to say that Temple Grandin is an incredibly amazing and inspiring person.

"Highly functioning autistic" doesn't begin to describe this brilliant visual thinker—and university professor—whose humane designs have revolutionized livestock handling.  My introduction to Temple Grandin was through her TED lecture, The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.  That's a good place to start, but don't miss the movie.  (As far as I can recall it is completely grandchild safe.)

Normally I don't care for the DVD special features that make you watch the entire movie again to hear the commentary; I love learning about how the movie was made, but prefer it in condensed form.  Here it's well worthwhile taking the extra time, because unlike many DVD commentaries, there's very little inanity—and most of all because one of the commentators is Temple Grandin herself.

It was a little disconcerting to note how well I understood some of her problems; enough so that I took this autism spectrum self-test I found in Wired.  The results were as I suspected:  I'm not close to the diagnostic level, but well above average.

I'm looking forward to reading some of Grandin's books, having ordered The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger's, and Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals from our library.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 7:31 am | Edit
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If it makes you feel any better, I scored 27 - though I think ten years ago I would have scored even higher.

Posted by Stephan on Monday, November 01, 2010 at 4:14 pm

In a few years you may be down to my 25. :)

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, November 01, 2010 at 5:22 pm

24. But I could take it again and get a 25 or 27 if I wanted to (or lower, depending on what I felt like proving). Fortunately, knowing that I could is good enough so there's no point in actually doing so.

Posted by Peter V on Monday, November 01, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Oh, lord.
That explains a lot.

Posted by Katie Baker on Monday, November 01, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I'm impressed, Katie. There are a lot of geeks here, and you out-geeked us all.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, November 01, 2010 at 10:47 pm

22. Was there no difference in grading whether you strongly or slightly agreed/disagreed?

Posted by IrishOboe on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 8:42 am

Apparently there was no difference between strongly and slightly. Seems strange, and is one reason I never trust this kind of questionnaire/survey. Why waste people's time with that distinction if you're not going to use it?

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 9:38 am

I'm curious, though. The control group average was 16.4, why are we all scoring above 20? (Naturally, all my readers are above average.)

It seems that the test is weighted so that engineering types and introverts score high. Thus I'm really curious as to where Jon falls, he being an extrovert engineer.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 9:50 am

You know, I rattled off that answer, hit send and then thought "No, that's not an appropriate response, it's too personal and sounds a bit like bragging," so tried to stop the send. Guess I both failed to stop the send and rather re-inforced the diagnosis. The thing is, I would have answered more questions as "strongly" rather than "slightly" but (I thought) I have learned *some* socially acceptable behaviour over the years.

Posted by katie baker on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 10:40 am

I think it was a perfectly appropriate and interesting comment, but if you'd like I'll excise it. I don't want my wonderful comment-writers to be uncomfortable and think about not writing. :)

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 11:24 am

Based on your theory does my 11 mean I am below average? I found it hard to answer the social / party questions. I enjoy social chit chat and parties if I know everyone, but stick me in a room where I don't know anyone and it is not enjoyable.


Posted by DSTB on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I think it's somehow related to the fact that you're the only golfer in the family. :)

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, November 02, 2010 at 8:25 pm

19 - must mean I am already a retired geek.

Posted by Dad-o on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 at 5:37 am

You can leave it. I began to suspect this about a year ago and it's been quite liberating actually - to know that I am not "stupid," I just have an identified difficulty with some things.

Posted by katie baker on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 at 10:05 am

I know the feeling! I wish we could accept, respect, and even appreciate our personality differences without a scientific "explanation" for them, but it does seem to help. "I am not alone" is a powerful force, too.

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 at 11:20 am

I had the same difficulty as DSTB's D, for the same reason. Plenty of the situations could have gone either way, depending on what the question was referring to and the exemplary experience that first came to mind. (Asking the same thing twice doesn't improve the questionnaire, except perhaps for indecisive amnesiacs.)

The introvert / extrovert distinction is another and I think separate issue. Is an extrovert an outgoing person? Then I am no extrovert, though I have worked at strengthening that social muscle. Is an extrovert a person who enjoys and gets energized by social activities? Then I might be an extrovert - more so than my wife, even though initial impressions might suggest otherwise. Even so, I enjoy doing things on my own - another conundrum akin to the social activity questions. Do I prefer a solo job to a group project? Generally yes, because it's easier to manage and I pull my own weight and nothing but. Do I prefer a solo activity over a social activity? Probably usually not.

Posted by Stephan on Wednesday, November 03, 2010 at 5:18 pm

14. it is weird that they don't take into consideration strong vs. slight. There are a couple questions which I debated on, but I think there were a couple in both directions, so the score would probably stay around the same.

I'm also surprised at the result,p since I can see various autistic tendencies in myself.

There was a research summary in CMU's newspaper once that showed various types of college majors/people on an austism spectrum. The progression was something like:

drama, english, ..., women, men, ..., female engineers, male engineers, high functioning Asbergers, ..., low functioning autistics.

That progression made sense to me.

As for introverts vs. extroverts, I used to think extroverts meant outgoing, loud, etc. but then I came across the Meyers-Briggs definition, which I think is a better, more useful definition. Where that definition (or at least the one I now use that I think came from them) is that an extrovert gains energy by spending time with people and an introvert gains energy by being by himself. I am the most extroverted person I've ever met, by that definition.

Posted by jondaley on Monday, November 22, 2010 at 7:57 am
Thinking in Pictures
Excerpt: Thinking in Pictures:  And Other Reports from My Life with Autism, by Temple Grandin (Vintage, 2006) (Expanded from the original 1995 version) I’ve already written about Temple Grandin, the movie, which was the inspiration for getting this ...
Weblog: Lift Up Your Hearts!
Date: November 10, 2010, 8:46 pm