Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 11, 2009 - Nature - 368 pages
568 Reviews
Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation speaks in the clear voice of a woman who emerged from the other side of autism, bringing with her an extraordinary message about how animals think and feel.

Temple's professional training as an animal scientist and her history as a person with autism have given her a perspective like that of no other expert in the field. Standing at the intersection of autism and animals, she offers unparalleled observations and groundbreaking ideas about both.

Autistic people can often think the way animals think -- in fact, Grandin and co-author Catherine Johnson see autism as a kind of way station on the road from animals to humans -- putting autistic people in the perfect position to translate "animal talk." Temple is a faithful guide into their world, exploring animal pain, fear, aggression, love, friendship, communication, learning, and, yes, even animal genius. Not only are animals much smarter than anyone ever imagined, in some cases animals are out-and-out brilliant.

The sweep of Animals in Translation is immense, merging an animal scientist's thirty years of study with her keen perceptions as a person with autism -- Temple sees what others cannot.

Among its provocative ideas, the book:



  • argues that language is not a requirement for consciousness -- and that animals do have consciousness

  • applies the autism theory of "hyper-specificity" to animals, showing that animals and autistic people are so sensitive to detail that they "can't see the forest for the trees" -- a talent as well as a "deficit"

  • explores the "interpreter" in the normal human brain that filters out detail, leaving people blind to much of the reality that surrounds them -- a reality animals and autistic people see, sometimes all too clearly

  • explains how animals have "superhuman" skills: animals have animal genius

  • compares animals to autistic savants, declaring that animals may in fact be autistic savants, with special forms of genius that normal people do not possess and sometimes cannot even see

  • examines how humans and animals use their emotions to think, to decide, and even to predict the future

  • reveals the remarkable abilities of handicapped people and animals

  • maintains that the single worst thing you can do to an animal is to make it feel afraid



Temple Grandin is like no other author on the subject of animals because of her training and because of her autism: understanding animals is in her blood and in her bones.
  

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Great book for some insight into Autism. - Goodreads
... the writing is not that good, skimming is needed. - Goodreads
good, but not nearly as good as thinking in Pictures. - Goodreads
Clear writing, fascinating content. - Goodreads
informative and interesting but hard to read. - Goodreads
Interesting insights. - Goodreads

Review: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

User Review  - Mariko - Goodreads

A unique view of human and animal interactions. Read full review

Review: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

User Review  - Joanne Miller/Joanne Orion Miller - Goodreads

An excellent book with insights from someone who sees animals from a perspective most of us can only guess at--an interesting aside: Ms. Grandin designed humane slaughtering procedures for a number of ... Read full review

All 5 reviews »

Contents

My Story
1
How Animals Perceive the World
27
Animal Feelings
69
Animal Aggression
131
Pain and Suffering
179
How Animals Think
241
Animal Genius Extreme Talents
285
Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide
309
Notes
325
Selected Bibliography
337
Acknowledgments
343
Index
347
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Temple Grandin earned her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois, went on to become an associate professor at Colorado State University, and wrote two books on autism, including the seminal Thinking in Pictures. One of the most celebrated -- and effective -- animal advocates on the planet, Grandin revolutionized animal movement systems and spearheaded reform of the quality of life for the world's agricultural animals.

Catherine Johnson, Ph.D., is a writer specializing in neuropsychiatry and the brain and is the author of three previous books, including Shadow Syndromes with John J. Ratey. She lives with her husband and three sons in New York. Two of her sons have autism.

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