on March 12, 2005
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. She has the training to write the text book, but then, being autistic, she can not. She does not hold the whole picture and therefore it remains a badly organized book. That is the message. That is what it is like to be autistic. That is what it is like to be an animal.
British Columbia, Canada.
on January 14, 2009
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.
on July 2, 2005
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.
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.
on January 2, 2011
Temple Grandin has done a wonderful job of writing about autism and animals. She takes her job seriously while working in slaughter houses, to make the experience the best it can be. (it is not an oxymoron) If an animal is stressed going into slaughter it's last minutes are horrible. And the meat is also affected.
All of her books are wonderful, and this is one book I will read again and again.
on October 7, 2013
This is a groundbreaking book, not only for psychology enthusiast, students or professionals but also for pet owners!. Again, the shipping was very fast, and I would recommend everyone to read this book.