I recently read an article in which Temple Grandin, the famous woman with Asperger Syndrome who was recently played by Claire Danes in an HBO movie, discussed how she thinks in pictures. She states that words are like a second language to her and that her natural mode of thinking is visual. Temple describes her way of thinking as a VCR that plays tapes in her head and notes that her great success in the livestock industry can be attributed to her ability to visualize animal-handling equipment. Temple has made public statements that people with Autism often perform greatly at visuo-spatial tasks while performing very poorly on verbal tasks. In my practice, I have also encountered many clients on the Autism Spectrum that excel in verbal tasks, but struggle to complete visuo-spatial tasks. I think we need to be careful in making generalizations. Many of you have probably heard that girls are not as good as boys in visuo-spatial skills, though many girls (including Temple) clearly excel in this area.
Though I believe we all should hesitate in making generalizations, I believe that this is a topic that is essential for each of us to explore. Each of us has a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses that, when recognized, may help us excel in our daily living. I, for example, have difficulty remembering verbal information and need to write things down in order to remember them. Others benefit from translating verbal information into graphical representations such as charts, graphs, and flow charts. I think the key here is to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses and to adapt our habits accordingly.
Through the assessments and therapy provided through the ApaCenter, we help individuals identify their own strengths and weaknesses in order to help them function optimally in their daily lives. It is often difficult to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses without the objective input of others, but I would encourage any readers to make strides toward this goal. This may involve an assessment session or may simply involve soliciting input from friends and family or spending some time on introspection. Whichever the case, each of us may gain success by taking advantages of our strengths in order to overcome our weaknesses.