top of page
  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Understanding the Different Minds

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Table of Contents

Different kinds of minds can affect a person's ability to contribute to society.

I watched this live stream video on Varsity Tutors last night. Temple Grandin, a famous autistic woman, explains the different minds.

Grandin is also a scientist who is an expert on animal behavior, an author, a professor, and an autism spokesperson.

Temple Grandin Video

In the video, Grandin touches on minds such as object visualizer thinkers, visual-spatial thinkers, and verbal thinkers. All people, including autistics, can fall in any category or between two categories.

The main difference between autistic people and neurotypicals is that people on the spectrum can have uneven skills.

People on the spectrum can be good at something most others are not good at, while they can be poor at a skill everyone else takes for granted.

For example, an autistic child might memorize where each classroom in a school is on the first day but could have difficulty playing "Rock paper scissors".

These minds are what make people unique, yet they can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. They also tend to appear later in childhood rather than early on.

Object Visualizer Thinkers

Object Visualizer Thinkers will think in pictures and not words. Everything they think about comes up in photographs.

Grandin is an object visualizer. When she was young, she thought everyone would think in pictures. She describes it as picking up things like PowerPoint slides.

Also, when Grandin learns data, she prefers pie charts over tables and narratives.

Visual-spatial Thinkers

Visual-spatial thinkers will think more with math and patterns. These people may often have careers in music, programming, or engineering.

Reading can also often be a weakness.

As Grandin mentions a Zoom example in the video, she says that a spatial thinker likely did the programming for Zoom.

According to The Place for Children with Autism, visual-spatial thinkers with autism can especially fear changes to routines because they are interested in patterns.

Verbal Thinkers

Verbal thinkers tend to be linear. Often, these people may learn things that are not important to others.

However, they can learn languages well, make lists and remember facts about specific interests.

The most common barriers relate to visual thinking.

Grandin says that autistic people, regardless of which mind they fall in, can have problems with multitasking.

Jobs that require a lot of multitasking, such as working at a busy McDonald's takeout window, can be hard for people on the spectrum.

Other Types of Logical Minds

The Place for Children with Autism also explains the following:

Bottom-up thinkers can pick up on small details quicker than the big picture. People on the spectrum can be prone to this thinking, while most other people may see the big picture before the smaller details.

For example, a bottom-up thinker might first notice how a wheel looks on a car, while a non-bottom-up thinker may first see its color or brand.

Associative thinkers can associate objects with unusual objects. Grandin says in the video that these thinkers can most often come up with original ideas.

Lastly, analytical thinkers can make quick decisions, while lateral thinkers can be good problem solvers and think outside the box.

Where Do I Fall In?

Throughout my years of having psychologists test me as a child and through my years of education, I've concluded that I am mostly a verbal thinker.

With visual and visual-spatial concepts, I would understand them easily if they were concrete and simple.

However, if there was more sequencing and I had to attend to many pieces of important information, I would have more problems. Some examples include algebra and math word problems.

These issues explain why I had educational supports throughout elementary school.

Also, reading and spelling were my major strengths in elementary school.

However, when it came to reading comprehension, which did not involve as much verbal thinking, I had more challenges.

For example, if I read "J went to the ice cream shop," I would understand that.

However, a person without comprehension issues may think, "Why is J going to the ice cream shop? Is it hot outside? Does his sister want ice cream? Is there a party going on?" In these areas, I required extra help from adults.


The types of minds are important to understand. If we know how people may see the world differently, there would be fewer misunderstandings.

Also, if one understands how they think, they can make good choices for their lifestyle and career path.

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Feb 18, 2021

Awesome article. It is important to understand how we all think for sure.

bottom of page