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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Launches The Autistic Brain by Best-Selling Author and Autism Activist Temple Grandin and Richard Panek

NEW YORK - The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum is a cutting-edge account of the latest science of autism and promising new ways of understanding the causes, diagnoses, and treatments of the syndrome. Author Temple Grandin is an expert on autism, a best-selling author, and a scientist who’s inspired millions of readers and fans worldwide. She is one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism. It is estimated that one in every 88 people are on the autism spectrum; for a world that is still struggling to understand this enormous group, The Autistic Brain is essential reading.

With her groundbreaking memoir Thinking About Pictures, Temple was the first person to describe what it was like to be inside the head of an autistic person. Now, in The Autistic Brain, she weaves her own history and experience into the narrative—hers was among the first diagnoses of autism—and takes us to the frontiers of neurological research on autism. Excitingly, scientists and self-advocates have begun to reveal the long-overlooked strengths of autism, and Grandin offers innovative, practical ways for parents, teachers, and employers to understand and embrace the unique advantages of people on the spectrum. Nine out of ten people with autism suffer from sensory disorders, but there is surprisingly little research on the subject. In this book, Grandin explains ways to address visual and auditory processing problems, as well as touch/tactile and olfactory/taste sensitivity. 

Other important issues and ideas Grandin explores in The Autistic Brain include:

  • The limitations of labels: How focusing on the specific symptom of your child, instead of getting stuck on the overall diagnosis, can transform the way you encourage their strengths and how effectively you treat their weaknesses;
  • How can your child’s obsession become a job? Grandin offers new tools to help develop your autistic child’s strength into a valued skill in the mainstream world, with stories from companies on the forefront of being welcoming to employees on the spectrum;  
  • How do new technologies make it easier for autistic kids to communicate? Grandin shows the treatment breakthroughs that can happen when you understand what a behavior feels like from the inside, rather than what it looks like from the outside; 
  • New ways of thinking about online education and digital tools for autistic children: free educational videos, online courses, 3-D drawing tools, apps that help non-verbals communicate, etc.; 
  • The problems of the new DSM-5’s definition of autism, and what the effects will be on funding and treatment, especially for kids with Asperger’s;
  • What’s the future of autism research? Grandin argues that we’ll need to search for causes, not just one cause, and that we need to be looking for the cause not just of autism but of every symptom along the whole spectrum. Forget about the diagnosis, forget about labels—focus on the symptoms to understand and help autistic people today. 
The Autistic Brain offers a transformative new understanding of autism itself, and challenges both the world of science and the reader to think about the questions it raises: How much of autism is hard-wired? How much can a person with autism change? Does early intervention make a difference? And how do we encourage the more positive way of thinking about autism that is emerging? Once again, Temple Grandin has raised the bar on this national conversation. 

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Temple Grandin has a PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois and is a professor at Colorado State University. She is the author of four previous books, including the national bestsellers Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation. Dr. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism, and her work has been covered in the New York Times, People, on National Public Radio, and 20/20. Most recently she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of the year. The HBO movie based on her life, starring Claire Danes, received seven Emmy Awards.

Richard Panek is the author of three previous books, most recently The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Science Writing, he has written frequently for the New York Times as well as Smithsonian, Natural History, Discover, Esquire, Outside, and numerous other publications.

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Publishing
For nearly two centuries, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Trade division has published some of the world’s most renowned novels, non-fiction, children’s books and reference works in hardcover, trade paperback, and eBook formats.  Its distinguished author list includes eight Nobel Prize winners, forty-seven Pulitzer Prize winners, thirteen National Book Award winners, and more than one hundred Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, and Sibert Medal and Honor recipients. HMH publishes such distinguished authors as Philip Roth, Temple Grandin, Tim O'Brien, and Umberto Eco, and a celebrated roster of children’s authors and illustrators including Lois Lowry, Chris Van Allsburg and David Wiesner.  HMH is also home to The Best American series®; The American Heritage® and Webster’s New World™ dictionaries; Betty Crocker®, Better Homes and Gardens®, How to Cook Everything®, The Gourmet Cookbook, and other leading culinary properties; the Peterson Field Guides®; CliffsNotes; books by J.R.R. Tolkien; and many iconic children’s books and characters including Curious George®, The Little Prince and The Polar Express. For more information, visit