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Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior Paperback – Jan 2 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (Jan. 2 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156031442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031448
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Philosophers and scientists have long wondered what goes on in the minds of animals, and this fascinating study gives a wealth of illuminating insights into that mystery. Grandin, an animal behavior expert specializing in the design of humane slaughter systems, is autistic, and she contends that animals resemble autistic people in that they think visually rather than linguistically and perceive the world as a jumble of mesmerizing details rather than a coherent whole. Animals—cows, say, on their way through a chute—are thus easily spooked by novelties that humans see as trivialities, such as high-pitched noises, drafts and dangling clothes. Other animals accomplish feats of obsessive concentration; squirrels really do remember where each acorn is buried. The portrait she paints of the mammalian mind is both alien and familiar; she shows that beasts are capable of sadistic cruelty, remorse, superstition and surprising discernment (in one experiment, pigeons were taught to distinguish between early period Picasso and Monet). Grandin (Thinking in Pictures) and Johnson (coauthor of Shadow Syndromes) deploy a simple, lucid style to synthesize a vast amount of research in neurology, cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology, supplementing it with Grandin's firsthand observations of animal behavior and her own experiences with autism, engaging anecdotes about how animals interact with each other and their masters, and tips on how to pick and train house pets. The result is a lively and absorbing look at the world from animals' point of view.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Grandin is well known as an autistic person who works with animals, redefining both what is possible for autistics and the way we look at how animals think. With coauthor Johnson, trustee of an autism research group and mother of autistic sons, Grandin explores the world of animal thought and compares it with both how typical humans and autistic humans think. Grandin began to realize during her years of education that animals and autistics process the world in the same way: as discrete pictures, sounds, and smells--in other words, they do not convert experiences into abstract thought or language. In telling her story, and then in discussing different aspects of animal behavior and perception, Grandin illustrates her arguments with descriptions from her own research, the research of other animal behaviorists and psychologists, and anecdotal stories about animal behavior. This fascinating book will teach readers to see as animals see, to be a little more visual and a little less verbal, and, as a unique analysis of animal behavior, it belongs in all libraries.^B Nancy Bent
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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People who aren't autistic always ask me about the moment I realized I could understand the way animals think. Read the first page
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Dormaar on March 12 2005
Format: Hardcover
Animals in Translation: Using the mysteries of autism to decode animal behavior.
I will never think about animals, and about autism, and about "normal" people quite the same way again. This is a landmark book.
The book is badly organized. You will have to read every page. You may not be interested in the long pages where she talks about slaughter houses, but then right in the middle of a paragraph you suddenly come across a bit of wisdom that you would not want to have missed. Right then you must underline it or you will never find it back again.
The upshot of this book is that animals do not have a fully functioning frontal lobe, nor do autistic people, and she tells us throughout the book what that is like, over and over again until you start to get a deep understanding of what it is like. We get a better understanding of ourselves too. The frontal lobe "puts it all together", and having put it all together, we race over the details like a speed boat over water. We do not see the details. An autistic person on the other hand, can not help but see them. He sees all the details, and only the details. He is overwhelmed by them. He sees all forty shades of brown. He can not see the forest for the trees, and more trees, and more trees. He hears every tone. He smells every odor. His life is a jumble of details. As you might expect, her book is rich in details about her own life and about all the animals she knows and when you emerge at the other end of the book, you feel immersed. Being a "normal" person you can not remember all the details, but you "know" something about these people's lives, and about animals' lives in a way you could never get from a text book. And yet, at the same time, she also has a doctorate and she does her own research.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By edrm on Jan. 14 2009
Format: Paperback
To be quite honest, at first, I couldn't associate autism with animal behavior. However, I felt as if animals had taught human beings how animals live. And I gradually noticed something in common between people with autism and animals: Both of them are non-verbal but are able to think in pictures. Because of that sort of intuition, they are more sensitive to the surroundings than non-autistic people.

When it comes to animals, they have to cope with fear if they sense the predators coming closer. That is one of the ways to survive and ironically without fear, animals would be a target for predators. I found the example of the tragedy of fearless guppies on P.196. Perhaps for piranha fearless guppies are the easiest targets because they didn't sense any danger until they got eaten. That explains why fear is necessary to sense danger.

How about people with autism? They do have speech delay, which makes it difficult for parents to socialize them. But for autistic people, solitude is one of the ways to protect their own world. The main reason is that they are hypersensitive to normal school or office environment, which sound like the noises in construction sites. In short, they have such a terrible sensory overload that they can't stand loud noises. That's why people with autism prefer quieter places to mixing with their peers. Autistic people feel fear like animals when they recognize something unpredictable. Of course not all non-autistic people look scary to autistic ones, just in case.

Overall, I'm not sure enough what it is like to think in pictures. However, I'd say Temple Grandin knows quite well how to deal with animals because of her pros of autistic traits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tami Brady HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 8 2007
Format: Paperback
Animals in Translation is an amazing book. This book states that by looking at human autism, we can better under animals, the way they think, the way they behave, and how they see the world. The author is an animal scientist who works primarily with slaughter houses. She is also autistic.

Before reading this book, I had very little comprehension about the way that autistic people see the world. I simply had no idea that seeing the world in a visual way was that much different than the way that I think. I now see that this different way of thinking has a lot of really interesting benefits, particularly when it comes to understanding other visual thinkers like the animals around us. As I read this book, I started to comprehend how much detail in life we normally ignore. So much of what we need to understand animals is simply looking at life from their perspective, both literally and figuratively speaking.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Annie-Jessie on July 2 2005
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put it down. Ms. Grandin's thoughts on why and how she discovers what comforts and distresses animals, and how she puts things right, is refreshing. She believes her autism gives her an advantage, because she had started with no more expectation of animals' behaviour than she has of individual humans behaving like "people". Her staightforward judgment that humans be responsibile for domestic animals' quality of life AND DEATH, because we created them for our needs, has done more to alleviate animal suffering than a dozen PETA's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Carey on June 28 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely fascinating! My wife and I just adopted an abused dog and this book is helping his and our ``transistion` immensely. This is a must read for animal lovers or anyone who knows of someone with Autism.
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