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Dr. Temple Grandin's 7 Tips for Supporting Autistic Thinking and Building Success

Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned professor, author, and speaker, is regarded as one of the most respected voices in the autism community.

Her unique perspective as an autistic individual has led to groundbreaking insights on how to support and nurture the unique ways of thinking found in autistic individuals.

Based on her extensive work and personal experience, here are 7 key tips Dr. Grandin offers for truly supporting autistic thinking to pave the way for success.

1. Recognize Different Types of Thinking

Dr. Grandin categorises autistic thinking into different types: visual, pattern, and verbal logical thinkers. Understanding that not all autistic individuals think alike is crucial. Visual thinkers, like Dr. Grandin herself, think in pictures and are often good at art or building things. Pattern thinkers see patterns and relationships between numbers, making them strong in fields like mathematics or coding. Verbal logical thinkers excel in details and facts, thriving in areas involving extensive knowledge. Recognizing and nurturing these different types of thinking can lead to significant breakthroughs.

2. Create a Tailored Learning Environment

One size does not fit all, especially in education. Dr. Grandin emphasises the importance of customizing learning environments to fit the individual needs of autistic thinkers. For visual thinkers, this might mean providing lots of visual aids and opportunities for hands-on activities. For pattern thinkers, incorporating puzzles and problem-solving games can be beneficial. Adjusting teaching methods and environments to match the thinking style of the student can enhance learning dramatically.

3. Focus on Strengths, Not Just Deficits

Often, the focus with autism is on the deficits. Dr. Grandin advises shifting this focus towards strengths and abilities. By fostering what autistic individuals do well, whether it's drawing, mathematics, or remembering facts, you can help them build confidence and skills that lead to success in life and work.

4. Provide Clear, Concrete Instructions

Ambiguity can be a major hurdle. Autistic individuals often benefit from clear, concrete instructions and expectations. Break tasks down into manageable steps and be specific about what is required. This clarity helps reduce anxiety and confusion, making tasks more approachable and achievable.

5. Encourage Practical Problem Solving

Real-world skills are invaluable. Dr. Grandin suggests engaging autistic individuals in tasks that require practical problem-solving skills. This could mean mechanical work, programming, or even organizing materials. Such activities not only play to their strengths but also build essential life and vocational skills.

6. Promote Social Interaction Through Shared Interests

Social skills are often a challenge for autistic individuals. Dr. Grandin recommends facilitating social interactions through shared interests rather than forced socialisation. Clubs, groups, or activities that focus on an interest can help autistic individuals engage with others in a more natural and comfortable way.

7. Be Patient and Persistent

Progress can be slow and requires patience. It's important to be persistent and keep encouraging and supporting autistic individuals, even when improvements are incremental. Celebrate every small victory to keep motivation high.


Dr. Temple Grandin’s practical insights into supporting autistic thinking are a valuable resource for anyone looking to foster the success of autistic individuals.

By understanding and embracing different ways of thinking, and by adapting our support strategies accordingly, we can help autistic individuals not just succeed, but thrive.

Her approach teaches us that by valuing and investing in the unique perspectives of autistic individuals, we can unlock a world of potential that benefits us all.

You can learn more from Dr. Temple Grandin today with our accredited online training courses tailored for parents and professionals here >> Start Learning

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