How to unlock the superpowers of divergent minds | Big Think+

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Dr. Temple Grandin shares how we can unlock the hidden gifts of neurodivergent minds.

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There are three types of thinkers. Which one are you?

Temple Grandin, author and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, recognized early in her life that her mind worked differently from those of her peers and colleagues. As a neurodivergent woman in a male-dominated field, Dr. Grandin reveals how this different way of thinking led to groundbreaking advancements in the cattle industry.

According to Grandin, there’s a major problem with the modern day overgeneralization of the word “autism.” Those diagnosed are put in one single category with no distinction between each specific case, ultimately preventing neurodivergent people from discovering their passions and contributing their unique perspectives to society.

The best way to approach this problem, says Grandin, is to understand the 3 most common types of thinkers: visual thinkers like herself, pattern thinkers, and word thinkers. If educators and employers consider these different types of minds, they can create environments that maximize each individual’s intellectual strengths. By embracing this diversity, we together can build a society where every person has access to success; where everyone has the education, employment, and lifestyles that will help them thrive.


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About Temple Grandin:

Dr. Temple Grandin is a renowned scientist, author, and advocate for individuals with autism and animal welfare. Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and despite facing significant challenges due to her condition, she persevered and went on to become one of the most prominent voices in the autism community.

Grandin’s unique perspective as a person with autism has greatly influenced her work in animal science and husbandry. She is widely recognized for her innovations in the design of livestock handling facilities, which have revolutionized the industry by emphasizing the importance of humane treatment of animals. Her groundbreaking work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including being named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2010.

In addition to her contributions to animal welfare, Grandin is also an accomplished author, having written several books on animal behavior and her own experiences living with autism. Through her writing and public speaking engagements, she has become a leading advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum, promoting awareness, acceptance, and understanding of neurodiversity.

Grandin holds a Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently a professor at Colorado State University. Her work continues to inspire countless individuals around the world, challenging stereotypes and championing the rights of both animals and people with autism.