Autism, Brain Science & Yoga

I order a lot of library books. (LOVE the Library!) When a book I’ve ordered finally comes in, it goes right to the top of the stack. Temple Grandin’s new book, The Autistic Brain, arrived for me last Friday and I read it non-stop over the weekend.

I recommend this book! Temple Grandin combines brain science research with insights from her life experience as a person with autism. (You may have seen her TED talk in 2010.) This book is packed with information, opinions, suggestions, and intriguing questions. Grandin gives a very strong call to focus on and develop the interests and strengths of people “on the spectrum” [of autism], as well as gradually “stretching” their comfort zone and skills, especially with kids.

Another message of the book, related to sensory problems, particularly caught my attention from a yoga perspective. This is Grandin’s emphasis on sensory sensitivity and over-stimulation. As she says:

I have been talking and writing about sensory problems for over 20 years, and am still perplexed by many people who do not acknowledge sensory issues and the pain and discomfort they can cause.  A person doesn’t have to be on the autism spectrum to be affected by sensory issues.  (Dr Temple Grandin, The Way I See It)

Yogis are all about sensory issues! Direct, mind-body experience and non-reactivity. As a yoga practitioner and teacher, working with the nervous system is what I do. It’s so exciting to me to consider how the science of brain structures and connectivity connects the dots, and what might be possible to address pain and discomfort related to over-stimulation.

And of course, it turns out that Temple Grandin is here in San Francisco this week! Yesterday, I happened to catch her interview with Rachael Myrow on KQED’s Forum. She’s speaking in various other venues this week (e.g., City Arts and Lectures tonight. I can’t make it, but maybe you can!). Here are a couple other links for you to explore:

Temple Grandin’s website!
An interview with Temple Grandin in Time
From USA Today, check out the brain scans at the bottom of the page!
Chat (transcript) with Temple Grandin on the website for Autism Speaks



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