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Temple Grandin recently spoke on the topics of neurodiversity and autism at TED 2010.  Her talk echoed many of the points discussed by Tyler Cowen in his Create Your Own Economy (which I reviewed briefly here).  Grandin’s talk focuses on the different types of thinkers that exist, particularly along the autism spectrum.  She lists three:

  1. Photo Realistic Visual: Poor at Algebra (not math, per se)
  2. Pattern Thinkers:  Excel at music and math
  3. Verbal Mind: Poor at drawing, excel at remembering facts & details

Grandin herself is a Photo Realistic Visual thinker.  As she says, “I think in pictures, I don’t think in language.”  She goes on to discuss why this is relevant, in particular from a problem-solving/design perspective.  Additionally, she makes some good points about how educational institutions need to think about how to accommodate these different types of thinkers, as they will undoubtedly learn differently.