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Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior Paperback – Bargain Price, January 2, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Grandin does a much better job of making the scientific information more interesting and less dry than in her previous book, Thinking in Pictures, which contained long passages about medications that could be used to treat autistic people. I found that book to be much more uneven. Animals in Translation, however, held on to my attention from the first page to the last. While she also includes a generous amount of scientific information in this book, it is all so interesting and sometimes surprising, that I was never bored. If you have pets or are simply interested in animals and/or biology, this is a must-read.
Sadly, Dr. Grandin - perhaps wanting to appeal to a wider audience - tries also to include predator species such as our companion dogs and cats in her book. Her lack of direct experience with predator species is palpable in everything she writes about them. Her data sources are extremely outdated(Monks of New Skete, anyone?) and her own discussions are highly anecdotal ("my neighbor's dog..." "my childhood cat..."). Her word choices reveal her discomfort with the subject matter (much use of terms such as "probably" "pretty much" "nobody knows why"). Nor does she make any effort to validate her suppositions. Her "Troubleshooting" chapter should be avoided like the plague (recommending a shock collar for chasing behavior can create aggression, as the dog learns to associate the chase object with pain).
If you read this book, take it with a grain of salt and by no means use it as your only reference. Her own references are excellent and can be used for further study. Also, for those interested primarily in dogs, Patricia McConnell has an exceptional new book, For the Love of a Dog, that is grounded in more recent data and a lifetime of working with dogs.
The book starts off well, with Grandin offering many insights that show that, in some ways, she really does have a better understanding of animal perception and thought than "normal" humans. Her principle examples revolve around the fact that animals, like autistic people, are detail-oriented. Their inability to generalize and see the "big picture" often leads to fixations on small things that the average person would not notice. Grandin illustrates this with stories from her inspections of meat plants, where something as simple as an abrupt change in lighting, or a reflection on a puddle - things which have entirely escaped the plant operators' notice - have been causing cattle to balk and refuse to go where they are being directed. She goes on to explain exactly why these details, which don't seem like much of a reason to be afraid, are so disturbing to the animals. Her observations, while not things that would immediately jump out at most people, make a lot of sense once she has explained them.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
amazing! a must read for every dog owner. I wish I would read it when I had my first dog. highly recommendedPublished 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
Very pithy and informative. Amazing look at understanding people and animals.Published 20 days ago by Elizabeth Pollard
Sharing this will all my animal loving friends and all those who are on the "pound rescue" teams.Published 1 month ago by Amia Reader
Fun and thought provoking, but there were some inaccurate over-simplifications.Published 1 month ago by josh ferringer
If you haven't read or seen Temple Grandin you need to check her story out. The movie is inspiring and the book promises to be the same!Published 2 months ago by JB
There are plenty of books about communication, but this author always offers a point of view worth seeing.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
We know more now than ever about animal sentience. Farmed animals have unique intelligences, emotional capabilities, and a strong desire to live, love, and have friends. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nancy P.