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If you love someone on the “Spectrum” you must read this!

Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships

Decoding Social Mysteries

Through the Unique

Perspectives of

by Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron

Edited by Veronica Zysk




If you are reading this blog entry

you probably know and love someone on the spectrum.


Regardless of where on the spectrum your loved one is “Unwritten Rules…” will help you understand the thoughts behind the behaviors  of people on the spectrum.)


I am only on page 158 of 380

It would be a disservice to not encourage you to get your own copy either from your local library (even if your library doesn’t own it they can often borrow it from another library) or purchase it….you’ll want to highlight -underline- and star various parts of this book.


I have at least 3 sentences underlined on every page so far that way when I go back and read again I can skim for what I found important to our child on the spectrum.


The two authors of  this book are both on the Autism Spectrum, and are both successful in their own right

Dr. Temple Grandin has a doctorate, yet struggled through early years much the same way many children with autism today struggle

Sean Barron is an author and a newspaper reporter.


Both have different experiences in childhood, they are both on the spectrum and yet both have different and helpful perspectives of their journey on the spectrum.


This is important

It helps us realize that NO TWO HUMANS that are on  the autism spectrum experience things the same way.


The book is divided into 3 sections.

  • The first Section focuses on Perspectives on Social Thinking

In thinking back to my teens early childhood I relate more to Temple’s journey….you may not.

  • The Second section talks to how the autistic way of thinking affects social understanding
  • Finally the third section focuses on the rules that is …there are 10 “rules” identified in the book many are second nature to the person not on the spectrum, but for someone on the spectrum these rules ARE NOT second nature.

Dr. Grandin’s focus in all of the webcasts, and books I’ve read by her seems three fold

  • -expectations
    • children on the spectrum need to be held to the same expectations we would hold a child not on the spectrum
  • -teaching to the child
    • children learn in different ways, some by hearing, some by seeing, some by doing,
    • children on the spectrum are no different, they learn by different ways
    • we need to find what works for our child
  • -repetition
    • Temple continually talks about how “social learning” does not come easy to her…even now it  is sometimes a daily learning, a daily reteaching how to deal with situations, she has developed her own ways …thinking in pictures for example….to quickly react to situations around her

That was a very simplistic review of her teachings….please….read the book.

Next I will share just a few of the quotes that really stood out to me while reading the first half of this book:

” Social rules and exposure to the social world is simple and well-defined at first: … However, the more immersed one becomes in social understanding, the more intricate and interwoven are those rules, the less clear-cut they become.  page x”

“There is the world of the neurotypicals and the world of the person on the autism spectrum.  Our perspective and understanding –indeed our very thinking process- is so very different than yours, yet we are required to conform to your set of rules.  For you, social understanding is innate.  For us, it is not. page xi”

are you ready to get the book yet?? that second quote about thinking processes being different,


we don’t wonder why a person with Alzheimer’s is unable to remember how to do certain things




address people (children especially)  on the spectrum as if they were experiencing the world around them as we do


a child with Austism or Aspergers

should not be necessarily  be lectured in the way one would lecture a non ASD (autism spectrum disorder)student who is misbehaving


This book really clearly gets into the rigid thinking that goes on in the head of a Spectrum child and how important it is to encourage


to teach

flexible thinking

about rules

about situations

If you made it this far stick with me just a bit longer

unfortunately there are very few teachers and other professionals trained to work with Autism, they address the problems and try to fix any motor defects, and correct speech issues, but often they don’t address they way of thinking of someone on the spectrum


As parents/family/caregivers it is up to us to research and figure out what works best for our kids/loved ones


Finally I’d like to end with one last quote from Temple:

“Mother never viewed my autism as excusing me from the social expectation that I would learn to function within the social structure….respect family rules….behave properly….assumed without question, that I would learn these social skills. page 3”



About ellasurreau

I was first grade religious education catechist I have been teaching for 20 years I have a BA in Religious Studies I have continued taking classes in religious studies since graduating. I grew up Methodist, and became catholic after marrying.

One response »

  1. Reblogged this on Me, A Mom and commented:

    if you love someone on the spectrum you need to read this book!


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