A Modern Day Fairy Tale: Inside His Mind {Autism Awareness Month}

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Inside His Mind {Autism Awareness Month}

As a mother to a child with Autism, I am sure I am not alone when I say that I would love to see into my child's mind for just one day. My little man, like most with Autism in my opinion, is incredibly brilliant. He taught himself to read at just 2.5 years old (or sooner, we only discovered it at that point, but looking back believe it started even before then). He read full sentences before he could speak them. He knows every last detail about every train on the Island of Sodor-even things that make no sense to me- like what on earth is a narrow gauge engine!? I certainly don't know, but Shaun does. He can tell you what production company makes just about any movie. He memorizes logos. He recently started teaching himself addition, and has gotten quite good at it! He knows more about iPhones and iPads than I do- he even changed the home screen on every iPod touch in his principal's office (to 20th Century Fox, of course!). He learned to work all of our electronics at around 2-3 years old. The list goes on and on and on...it is clear to see that he has an astounding mind from the bits and pieces we've been allowed to see. Unfortunately, I know there is a lot more in there that he does not have the communication skills to share with us. How incredible it must be inside his head, how amazing his memory is...I'd love just once to see it all and know how it all works for him!

I recently read this article about Temple Grandin where she discusses the three types of thinking seen in those with Autism:

  • Verbal Logic- think in word details, often love history, foreign languages, weather statistics, and stock market reports and aren't good drawers
  • Music and Math Thinkers- see in patterns, often excel at math, chess, and computer programming and are interested in music and play it by ear
  • Visual Thinkers-think in photographically specific images, often good at drawing, other arts, and building things with building toys such as LEGOs. Many children who are visual thinkers like maps, flags and photographs.
Grandin herself is a Visual Thinker, and I see many similarities between how her mind works and how it appears Shaun's does as well (though I believe he also have a knack for patterns and math, and to an extent even music as well). If you haven't watched it yet, I highly recomend that everyone watched HBO's Temple Grandin movie- it gives a lot of great insight to how some on the spectrum may view the world. Though I watched this when Shaun was only about three, I could already see Shaun in several of the scenes. One scene that stuck out to me at the time was one where she was riding in the vehicle with her aunt and laughing hysterically over a movie scene. Her aunt didn't understand what was so funny because she couldn't see it, Temple was replaying it exactly in her head. That is 100% Shaun. He remembers movie scenes and conversations down to the last word and will replay them (and even script them at times) to himself...and all it takes is just one time seeing it if he's interested. He can't yet explain this to us, but you can see it in his eyes when he's doing it. When he is doing his drawings or Lego creations, you can again see his mind at work through his eyes...I truly wish there was a better way to explain this, but you can just see him picturing the images in his head, and doing his best to recreate them exactly onto paper or Legos, clay, whatever he finds to recreate these images with that day. Truly astounding to watch. We truly believe he has a near photographic memory and the same has been suggested by his school as well.

I am truly grateful that there are individuals like Temple Grandin who have the ability to share a little piece of their world with us, so that mothers like myself can get a bit of a better understanding of what it *might* be like for our children as well. One day, I hope that Shaun will have that ability as well and we might fully get to understand how great his knowledge truly is...in the meantime, I will continue to be amazed by those glimpses he allows us to see, and do all that I can to help him share his mind with us in whatever way he can!! The minds of those with Autism, like my son, are truly amazing...if only we can look past the diagnosis and realize that. Their minds may process things differently than yours or mine, but that doesn't mean their brains are lacking. Temple Grandin said it best: Different, NOT less.


  1. I love this! I love how you continue to speak out about Autism. Another great source to check out is Robert Melillo. He has written several books about ADHD, ADD, Autism and give insight on how these kids work. I'm currently reading Disconnected Kids. It's an awesome book! He also created the Brain Balance Centers that are nationwide.

  2. Awesome post! My husband is a highly adapted Aspergian mind- he never fathomed something was different about his mind until he learned about Asperger's a few years ago and identified then that perhaps he did think differently than the rest of the world. He just learned how to blend in, but never felt like he could understand other people and isolated himself from most people. It's helpful to our relationship now that I can analyze his actions/reactions in terms of the fact he thinks differently than I do, instead of taking them personally. He used to hurt my feelings all the time: now I have an easier time letting it roll off my back. I think he must be a musical/math thinker by these definitions. The autistic mind is very different, but in many ways also very wonderful!


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