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Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
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I don't know if people will ever be able to talk to animals the way Doctor Doolittle could, or whether animals will be able to talk back. Maybe science will have something to say about that. But I do know people can learn to "talk" to animals, and to hear what animals have to say, better than they do now. --From Animals in Translation

Why would a cow lick a tractor? Why are collies getting dumber? Why do dolphins sometimes kill for fun? How can a parrot learn to spell? How did wolves teach man to evolve? Temple Grandin draws upon a long, distinguished career as an animal scientist and her own experiences with autism to deliver an extraordinary message about how animals act, think, and feel. She has a perspective like that of no other expert in the field, which allows her to offer unparalleled observations and groundbreaking ideas.

People with autism can often think the way animals think, putting them in the perfect position to translate "animal talk." Grandin is a faithful guide into their world, exploring animal pain, fear, aggression, love, friendship, communication, learning, and, yes, even animal genius. The sweep of Animals in Translation is immense and will forever change the way we think about animals.

*includes a Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide
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

Customer Reviews:

  • Animals in Translation
    A very enlightening concept of how animals think and how the autistic mind provides insights. Provides a better understanding of the animal, as well as the autistic mind and the role it could play in society....more info
  • wonderful!
    This is a terrific book. I learned about animal behavior and autism. I am a science teacher and I gained understanding of my autistic students and my pets and insight to share with students regarding animal behavior....more info
  • Animals R Us
    Animals in Translation is a revelation! Temple Grandin opens up for us a
    path to the understanding of what we once called "dumb animals."
    Of course, in this usage, "dumb" means "mute," but too often we interpolate
    it to mean, "unfeeling,"or "unable to think." Grandin erases all such
    nonsense, and takes us on a journey to into the minds of animals --
    including our pets -- that decreases the emotional and intellectual
    distance between us. On reading this book, you will see your
    dog, cat, horse, rabbit, or even your turtle, as a member of your
    family, and you will be forever conscious of how your treatment affects
    and molds your relationship. For dog owners, this book, together with
    "Merle's Door," will make you worthy of your pet's admiration....more info
  • excellent look into autism
    she has several positive points to make about her own autism which is a change form other books i have read,...more info
  • Humans, Their Animal Partners and Autism
    With all the force of revelation, an autistic scientist offers the rest of us revolutionary insights into the animal mind. It is written in clear, deceptively simple prose. There's so much here that it is hard to keep it in the bounds of a short review:

    The first section is about Temple Grandin and her autism, how she has coped with it and used her unique perception to help animals and the people who work with them. This is an inspiring story.

    The second section talks about how animals perceive the immediate environment and how people do not. This was literally an eye-opener! Since then, I have become a better observer of my own animals. My horse trusts me more because I can respond to his alerts. My dog has an ability to detect the approach of dangerous weather.

    The third section discusses animal feelings in a scientific manner and challenges some modern methods of animal breeding, care or confinement that produce abnormal behaviors. This is a fascinating chapter that covers many aspects of animal behavior and altered my own. After reading this chapter, I started buying only eggs that were labeled "cage-free".

    The chapter on animal aggression had a lot of information about dogs and cats, animals of prey that have become our closest companions. A fundamental difference exists between a dog happily killing a squirrel and a dog angrily biting a human.

    She makes an equally fundamental point in the following chapter about animals masking pain that suddenly explained why a horse I once had who had just broken a bone suddenly put his head down and started to eat grass as if everything was fine. In following chapters there was food for thought in how animals think and about animal genius.

    In short, if you like animals, this is an invaluable book made more useful and effective by its wide-ranging focus on a variety of species. ...more info
  • Insight into both animals and the author
    Temple Grandin is fascinating. She is clearly brilliant, and clearly very different from everyone else.

    Grandin purports to understand animal behavior well because her own autistic thought processes are similar in some ways to the thought processes of various animals. Through a range of examples and anecdotes, Grandin makes very good arguments for her interpretations of animals' motives for various behaviors.

    Grandin has improved conditions for farm animals by creating pragmatic strategies for farming, based on observation and insight.

    I finished the book convinced that she is brilliant and has done a great deal of good. I waver on what role her autism plays in her effectiveness. I understand her argument, but it could be that she's been effective because she's so smart, so creative, such a keen observer and loves animals so much.

    As a sidelight, I'd recommend this to readers who enjoy Richard Feynman's memoirs. Again, informal writing by a brilliant scientist with tremendous observational skill....more info
  • Intriguing, original and a great read
    This is a beautiful book and a fascinating read. We see and interact with so many animals in our daily lives, but never really understand what's going on inside their heads. Temple Grandin offers the best understanding of animal's minds I've ever read. She shows how animals aren't less intelligent than humans, they are *differently* intelligent and how their actions are direct responses to how they perceive their world. I'm already re-reading it!...more info
  • Wholly Fascinating!
    This is the most fascinating book I have ever read. The amazing Temple Grandin takes two subjects: autism and animal behavior,and draws comparisons with remarkable insight. She brings the world of animal behavior into sharp focus with examples and explanations and makes it easy for the lay reader to understand. She and coauthor, Catherine Johnson, write with a conversational prose that makes even the most difficult concepts easy to grasp. Every chapter elicits a "Wow".

    Although the dry title may put some people off because it sounds clinical and cerebral, this absolutely exciting book holds a plethora of facts and wonders about the animals we come into contact with on a daily basis. A real eye-opener!

    - C.A. Wulff, info
  • The BEST book ever on animals
    The BEST book ever on learning the insights into animal behavior and their emotions. Anyone who loves animals should read this book...and keep it for a life long reference! Temple's insight into the world of animals is very profound and really makes you think about your animals life and well being. Covers several species of animals and is filled with info on studies done on both humans and animals that are so very interesting and informative. I cannot say enough GOOD things about this book....more info
  • Brilliant!
    Anyone who lives with animals needs this book. Anyone involved with special needs children needs this book. Anyone with a curious bone needs this book. I learned more about autism and animal behavior in the first 20 pages than I did in 25 years of teaching special ed and 46 years with horses and other critters. Temple Grandin has a tremendous talent for making the obscure clear as a bell. Her theories are easily tested at home with fascinating results. Love it!...more info
  • First book I will read all the way through
    This may sound strange to alot of people but I have never enjoyed reading before, but there was something about this book that kept me reading. Everything that I have read so far is interesting and explained well. I am a person that has struggled my entire life with Dislexia and didn't find out that I was until recently. When I started going to college I wanted to be a child thyripist for the autisic & when I saw this book in the book store I just knew I had to read it! I have always know there was something else to animals then meets the eye!...more info
  • she's not a "typical human"
    I have a loaned out print copy of this, but mostly have experience with the audio version. (Someone who has heard her says that it may be a blessing that she is not reading this herself.)

    But I'm finding myself thinking "Temple Grandin says" two or three times a day. When what I've done right with my dogs works. When I wonder why ritalin works with ADHD, how anti-anxiety drugs work. When I consider how a friend interacts with her wolf hybrids--Grandin thinks that wolves socialized us as much as we created domestic dogs. When I have have a moment of, what is it, inattentional blindness--where I can't see what I'm not expecting. And when I realize why the horse I had as a kid was such a disaster for us--broken bones for both my parents, for instance.

    I'd class it as a book to browse, not read straight through. Even though I was delighted to have it running every time I got in the car. Twice....more info
  • For more than just animal lovers....
    For anyone who is interested in not only developing better understandings of animals and the way they 'think' and view the world, but also in developing better understandings of we humans - how we think and view the world - the similarities and differences. This is a fascinating insight into the world of those whose brains function differently to most of ours, and the amazing benefits and the great difficulties that this brings them. I found this book enlightening and challenging. It helped me understand my animals better and adjust some of my interactions and expectations of them. It is also a really useful personal development tool for anyone interested in understanding themselves better and developing an awareness and understanding of those with brain function differences - whether that be autism, ADHD, or other. The brain is an amazing place! ...more info
  • enlightening
    Was very taken with this book. A whole new world of understanding opened up for a layperson like me. So much more understanding of animals. Lent it to my own vet - people that work with animals probably had that knowledge but for me it was an eye opener and I tried to find everything else Temple had written. Very grateful to have read it....more info
  • Oh Temple, I wish you have wrtten this book years ago...
    Now, looking back for answers I have been seeking for when trying to understand my dogs' behavior, it all suddenly makes so much sense. They do think in pictures they remember pictures, yes, this is it!!!

    If you are an animal lover or not, by being part of nature, this book is a must read.

    Thank you, Temple, for the illumination.

    Giora Liran

    ...more info
  • A must read for anyone who works with animals
    This book is perfect for anyone who works with animals, and especially anyone STUDYING to work with animals. It is written in a style more akin to a textbook or training manual - which I was not expecting. It is extremely insightful, and the language is easy to understand - with lots of examples to help explain. It covers a broad spectrum of animals from lab, and farm animals to wild animals and domestic animals such as dogs and cats. If you have any regular interaction with an animal, you are likely to get something from this book. Grandin doesn't just explain her views on a situation either, she explains the differing views of others as well. She also compares animal behaviors and ways of thinking, to that of autistic people - the similarities are amazing in my opinion. It's no wonder to me that she has been able to discover these insights into animals that other "normal" people have not been able to. Her insight is simultaneously both more simplified, yet more complex - she figures out that it's usually a simple fix to the problem, not something major, yet, no one else is able to see that - it's simple for her but not them. Her techniques of finding the problem (such as trying to see the animal's world from ITS point of view) make you wonder why no one else figured out that you should do that. It makes so much sense, especially when you consider the old saying of how you can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes - it's the same for animals: you need to understand where they're coming from. At the end of the book there is also a guide to the different behaviors she covered, as well as troubleshooting for dealing with that specific behavior or problem cause. Overall I found this to be a very educational and insightful book and would recommend it to anyone interested in animals and the way they think and behave, as well as why....more info
  • 'Dogs make us human'
    For those who don't have the time to commune with animals, "Animals in Translation" provides plenty of helpful insights. Though, when she's not writing books, Temple Grandin is a superstar in the world of slaughterhouse design, so while reading I couldn't keep lines from Monty Python's "Architects Sketch" from nagging my conscience. ...more info
  • The best animal-related book I've ever read (and I've read hundreds!)
    I have owned, trained, bred and exhibited champion Doberman pinschers for 35 years. I have never read a more insightful, helpful, on-the-money guide to living with animals as Ms. Grandin's book. There's an "Aha!" on every page, and the only frustration is that she's not sitting across from you as you read to discuss or elaborate each point. This book should be required reading for everyone who lives with an animal - much less trains or breeds them....more info
  • It's a must...
    Fantastic read! Have recommended to everyone since devouring this book! After hearing Grandin deliver a very interesting lecture at my university I decided to buy her book and check it out. I couldn't put it down! The book is not only an asset to anyone wanting to work with animals but also gives great insight into one's own mind and actions. I bought 2 other copies for friends in animal training and handling the same week! It should be a requirement for anyone working hands on with animals because her methods make sense, are simple to execute, and really do work. From the position of someone who has worked with wild, captive, and domestic animals, I feel Grandin's knowledge will greatly enhance the success of my career.

    Even if you have no intention of working with animals personally, this book is fun, light-hearted, and plainly explained in lay-man's terms. Grandin not only made her book scientifically accurate, but fresh and enjoyable. No wonder it's on the National Best Sellers List! Once you've read her book, you can't help but try to see more detail in everyday life. Though I don't have kids myself, the understanding of early brain development in how a child thinks and visualizes the world as described by Grandin (especially one with autism) also seems very useful for parents and teachers. ...more info
  • Interesting
    What an interesting approach... if you want to dive deeper into the issues addressed here I recommend "Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name," by Vicki Hearne, which combines animal training with philosophy and literary criticism. If you are an animal trainer-- or even just an animal lover-- it's definitely worth checking out....more info
  • great reading
    a great book that offers insight into animals, humans and their interaction and similarities and differences. it seems that despite the obvious handicaps that autism carries with it, there is also an insight into life that is hidden from "normal" people. I highly recommend this book, full of references and facts and theories, yet as readable as a grisham novel....more info
  • Animals in Translation.
    I'm half way through reading this book and already it is a huge wealth of information. Informative on the subject of all animals. If you know someone who loves animals,this makes a great gift....more info
  • Life expanding read
    Every so often a book enters one's life in such a way that thoughts that were once unformed crystalize and become clear. This book had that effect on me.

    I had the great honor of listening to Dr. Grandin speak once and I remain profoundly grateful for her works, both in these pages of illumination and in the practical world of reducing animal suffering.

    I recommend this book wholeheartedly!...more info
  • Couldn't put it down
    I really enjoyed this book and have recommended it to several others. A friend gave me a copy, and I was intrigued to read it because I love dogs and thought that was the sole focus. I did learn lots of interesting things about dog behavior, but I was also fascinated by what the book has to offer about other animals and how the brain works and about autism, about which I previously knew very little. I look at animals in an entirely different way after having read this book, and it has really enriched my appreciation of the human/animal relationship. Thanks, Temple Grandin....more info
  • A Page-Turner... on Science!
    Temple Grandin, PhD, has done something extraordinary: combined her experiences as an animal scientist and an autistic person to give us new insights into the amazing inner world of animals. In her irresistably fun, anecdotal style, Grandin describes the most recent research on the senses, the brain, and emotions, ultimately explaining our own feelings and actions as well as those of animals. Entertainment Weekly says it best: "At once hilarious, fascinating, and just plain weird, Animals is one of those rare books that elicit a `wow' on almost every page."

    Doni Tamblyn is author of Laugh and Learn: 95 Ways to Use Humor for More Effective Teaching and Training and The Big Book of Humorous Training Games (Big Book of Business Games Series)...more info
  • details
    We watch animals and marvel at their antics. We see them in context and we also see their environment. What we cannot see is what they see and how they interpret and use the information. We look where their ears, nose, eyes are directed and the human sees the surroundings, the landscape. The animal is fine tuned to detail. And in fact that tiny tidbit of information the animal received but we missed is of ultimate importance.

    Temple Grandin is amazing and her book a reference source I will refer back to for a long time. She shares with readers what she has learned about animals and how she knows about these insights in ways other people might not. I am also reading some of her references, presently "The Emotional Brain", LeDoux. And when I regard animals now I search for details, sound, sight, or smell, the fine points.

    Thank-you Temple Grandin....more info