How to Be Less Human
When I was seven years old I read How to be Less Human by Temple Grandin. Although reading that book now is something that would make you think twice about jumping on the self-help aisle, when it came to really learn how to help autistic children, there really weren’t many things I had to learn. I remember my teacher showing us examples of how we might use pretend to communicate with our classmates. I found that by understanding the mechanics of mimicking a conversation, I could communicate much more than with spoken words. I learned a lot simply by observing, and I still do.
As an adult, How to be Less Human offers many lessons for dealing with all sorts of problems in life. This includes problems as diverse as fear, depression, fear of the world, and feeling different from others. I am not a psychologist, and I don’t pretend to know anything about this topic. However, I do know how to be less human by choosing to connect with what’s important to me, and by working in a way that doesn’t involve pretending to be someone else or denying myself. What I know is that there are many autistic people who can use these same techniques in order to deal with all kinds of problems that might overwhelm them.
Temple Grandin also gives us a beautiful example of listening to our internal voice. While she is deaf, she understands the signals that her body sends. This is very important because autistic people oftentimes have trouble understanding their body because they haven’t been socialized the same as nonautistic people. By paying attention to their voices, she gives autistic people a way to gain a sense of worth.