Animals in Translation
Animals in Translation

Animals in Translation

by Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson

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How is Animals in Translation different from every other animal book ever published?Animals in Translation is like no other animal book because of Temple Grandin. As an animal scientist and a person with autism, her professional training and personal history have created a perspective like no other thinker in the field, and this is her exciting, groundbreaking view of the intersection of autism and animal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781627655842
Publisher: Perfection Learning Corporation
Publication date: 01/28/2006
Pages: 358
Sales rank: 1,007,222
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt

Animals in Translation comes out of the forty years I've spent with animals.

It's different from any other book I've read about animals, mostly because I'm different from every other professional who works with animals. Autistic people can think the way animals think. Of course, we also think the way people think -- we aren't that different from normal humans. Autism is a kind of way station on the road from animals to humans, which puts autistic people like me in a perfect position to translate "animal talk" into English. I can tell people why their animals are doing the things they do.

I think that's why I was able to become successful in spite of being autistic. Animal behavior was the right field for me, because what I was missing in social understanding I could make up for in understanding animals. Today I've published over three hundred scientific papers, my Web site gets five thousand visitors each month, and I give thirty-five lectures on animal management a year. I give another twenty-five or so on autism, so I'm on the road most of the time. Half the cattle in the United States and Canada are handled in humane slaughter systems I've designed.

I owe a lot of this to the fact that my brain works differently.

Autism has given me another perspective on animals most professionals don't have, although a lot of regular people do, which is that animals are smarter than we think. There are plenty of pet owners and animal lovers out there who'll tell you "little Fluffy can think," but animal researchers have mostly dismissed this kind of thing as wishful thinking.

But I've come to realize that the little old ladies are right. People who love animals, and who spend a lot of time with animals, often start to feel intuitively that there's more to animals than meets the eye. They just don't know what it is, or how to describe it.

I stumbled across the answer, or what I think is part of the answer, almost by accident. Because of my own problems, I've always followed neuroscientific research on the human brain as closely as I've followed my own field. I had to; I'm always looking for answers about how to manage my own life, not just animals' lives. Following both fields at the same time led me to see a connection between human intelligence and animal intelligence the animal sciences have missed.

The literature on autistic savants sparked my discovery. Autistic savants are people who can do things like tell you what day of the week you were born based on your birth date, or calculate in their heads whether your street address is a prime number or not. They usually have IQs in the mentally retarded range, though not always, yet they can naturally do things no normal human being can even be taught to do, no matter how hard he tries to learn or how much time he spends practicing.

Animals are like autistic savants. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that animals might actually be autistic savants. Animals have special talents normal people don't, the same way autistic people have special talents normal people don't; and at least some animals have special forms of genius normal people don't, the same way some autistic savants have special forms of genius. I think most of the time animal genius probably happens for the same reason autistic genius does: a difference in the brain autistic people share with animals.

The reason we've managed to live with animals all these years without noticing many of their special talents is simple: we can't see those talents. Normal people never have the special talents animals have, so normal people don't know what to look for. Normal people can stare straight at an animal doing something brilliant and have no idea what they're seeing. Animal genius is invisible to the naked eye.

I'm sure I don't know all the talents animals have, either, let alone all the things they could use their talents to do if we gave them the chance. But now that I've seen the connection between autistic savantry and animal genius at least I have an idea what I'm looking for: I'm looking for ways animals can use their amazing ability to perceive things humans can't perceive, and to remember highly detailed information we can't remember, to make life better for everyone, animals and people alike. Just off the top of my head, here's a thought: we have service dogs for the blind -- how about service dogs for the middle-aged whose memories are going? I'm willing to bet that just about any dog can remember where you put your car keys better than you can if you're over forty, and probably if you're under forty, too.

Or how about service dogs who remember where your kids left the remote control? I bet a dog could do this if you gave him the training.

Of course, I don't know this for a fact. I could be wrong. But for me, predicting animal talents is getting to be a little like astronomers predicting the existence of a planet nobody can see based on their understanding of gravity. I'm starting to be able to accurately predict animal talents nobody can see based on what I know about autistic talent.

Copyright © 2005 by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson.

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Animals in Translation 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I knew about Temple Grandin, but I had never seen her or her books. Then I read this. It was really eye-opening for me. There was not a single page that didn't teach me something new, which is a very rare event for me. Heck, I read 'A Brief History of Time' and didn't learn as much as I have reading this. For everything I've read about autism (and experienced), I still received new insights into the good and bad involved (as well as the strange, like opiates), as well as theories behind it. Then, of course, is the stuff about animals. Now THAT was eye-opening. There was so much about how animals think and behave that I never would have even thought of thinking of (probably inattentional blindness). But it all makes sense. It has made me better able to understand animals, which is vital for people to know nowadays, now that we rely on machines more and animals less. But in fact, it's at least partially repaired my relationship with my cat, who would generally avoid me and my bear-hugs. Now I pet her and understand her and the way she works better, so I can work with her instead of against her. There's just so much to learn in this book that I don't think you even should be allowed to have animals without this book. Oh, and by the way, death is an inherent part of life. Death happens all the time. Just because we cause it (in the times that we do) doesn't make it any more wrong. As much as people argue that breeding animals to eat them is unnatural, humans have been doing it for centuries. And anyways, it'd be impossible to not do anything to any animals. We are a part of their world just as much as they are part of ours. The best we can do is to change what we can, and help them with what we cannot change. More animals live when we love and understand them than if we we stop breeding them or release them into the wild. The difference between you and Temple Grandin is not that she assists brutal murders of animals and you don't. It's just that she does the little things to change our and their world for the better, and you don't. Sorry if that's a little harsh, but Temple Grandin is a visionary among animal researchers, and if you're too stubborn to read how to better communicate and co-exist with animals, then you obviously don't care about animals as much you think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is packed with information and provides a new window on ourselves as well as the world of animals. One of the most unusual and compelling books I have read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Temple Grandin's book "Animals in Translation" is highly enlightening to any pet or animal owner. The book reads as an authoritative text, quoting studies and research. For the light reader it may be overwhelming, but for a person looking to truly understand their pet or the animals they manage it's a MUST READ. A truly extraordinary lady, Temple's insight and life's work benefit us all and "Animals in Translation" is an excellent addition to the animal lover's library.
dancer2 More than 1 year ago
Having a grandchild diagnosed with autism, I was curious to see what the author had to say regarding the similarities that she found between autistics and animals. Uncharacteristically, I found her empathetic and compassionate and enormously inciteful. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a curiosity in the dynamics of animal behavior but especially, how a woman such as Temple has overcome and succeeded so profoundly in her field of journalism. It was a fascinating read.
marjo More than 1 year ago
Temple Grandin, through her own autism, reveals extraordinary personal insight into the thoughts and responses of animals . . . and of humans. Based on credible scientific research, but easy to read and understand. If you've ever felt a special connection to animals, this book will enhance that relationship. If not, it's likely to change the way you see and relate to animals in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an animal trainer I would highly recommend this book. I just found it very interesting. Each time I re-read it, I learn more. Temple Grandin has done her research and has a wealth of knowledge to share. She understands animals in a way few others can.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For those who were born onto the Autism Spectrum or is related to someone who was, Dr. Temple Grandin tells it like it is from our perspective. If your boss is on the spectrum, it should be required reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the true animal lover/healer this book leaves out something that's needed respect and compassion for EVERY animal. She tends to talk to much about how to better the ability to get cattle around within the boundries of the slaughter fields that they are made to live in. What's compassionate about that? I agree, everyone interested in healing animals needs to read this book, and then move on from it and find another way to create an actual world where all animals are loved and cared for. I respect her for her own journey it's just not how so many animal care workers feel.
StevenJ More than 1 year ago
Temple Grandin gives us her unique perspective on what may be going on the mind our dogs. For me, Dr. Grandin stands on a very short list of authors giving us some scientific insight into dog psychology. I've had dogs all my life, but have recently become involved in the rescue of breeder dogs (with Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue - These dogs have been neglected and abused for their entire lives and present us with the challenge of helping them to become "normal" dogs. Dr. Grandin's concept that animals (and autistics) "think in pictures" is difficult to comprehend, yet goes a long way in getting me out of my word-based thought process when dealing with unusual or unwanted behaviors. Trying to see the world through the eyes of a dog makes me appreciate just how amazing our relationship with them is! This is a must read for all serious animal lovers.
chrisps More than 1 year ago
The insights into animal behavior that Dr. Grandin gives in this book have been invaluable to my career as a dog trainer, pet behavior counselor and an educator. In all of my obedience classes, I reference Animals in Translation and explain how animals think in pictures. This concept helps people to better understand their dogs, and to troubleshoot and find resolutions to behavior problems leading to a better relationship. This book has become my bible and serves as an inspiration that I can accomplish my dreams just as Dr. Grandin has overcome so much in her life of challenges to help the animals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been very involved with animals and cruelty cases for the last 10 years and this book has given me a new insight as to how the animal brain works. It makes so much more sense to me now as to why animals do the things they do. It's alot to "wrap your head around" parden the pun, but is very interesting. As far as the "killing of cattle", that's a fact of life and has been for years. It's not a matter of compassion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If there ever was an agenda-free author that tells it straight, it is Temple Grandin. Simple insights into both human and animal behavior are laid out in great detail, and I've been able to gain invaluable knowledge about the wiring and workings of my autistic niece and relate them to my own experience. I've read how other reviewers have carried their own biases to the reading and denounce the author for her work with the livestock industry. However, there can be no doubt that Temple Grandin's influence has greatly reduced animal pain, fear and suffering.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended by Costco book reviewer. I found it absolutely fascinating! A guide in understanding animals and humans...much can be put to practical use. Our new puppy, Sir Rufus II will benefit from my having read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's not just sad, but tragic, that as we mature we lose the instinctive gift of communicating with animals we have as children. Temple's book returns us to that extraordinary ability. Amazingly readable, considering some of the hard-to-get-your-neocortex-around concepts presented, this book holds startling insights on every page. A lifetime of working with animals, both as passion and as profession, didn't teach me what 'Animals in Translation' did, and already I've employed several of her principles in working with animals (including humans). This should be mandatory reading for anyone who lives or works among, with, or near animals. Temple and Catherine, thanks for the tremendous gift you've just given us -- and our animals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book for animal lovers and people lovers! Written in a simple style, yet it is so unique and compelling. Author's observations of animals - especially dogs - are incredibly humane and meticulous. And so correct! I have two dogs and this book has just assured me I was right about them ¿ they do have feelings and they know more than we realize. Dogs do make us human.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The word "animals" is in the title, but the reader learns a lot about human behavior from this book. The author writes from her own personal perspective of being autistic. I learned from the book that the frontal lobe's ability to screen through all the incoming sensory data to the human brain to quickly form broad generalizations is what we understand to be normal human consciousness. The more limited functioning of animal frontal lobes allows them more direct access to the raw data from lower parts of the brain. This allows animals to super specialize in certain skills that help them to survive. (i.e. dog's ability to smell, or migratory bird's ability to remember 1,000 mile routes). Impared functioning of the frontal lobe may explain how some autistic persons appear to have super human skills in specialized areas. They have privileged access to the raw data from the lower parts of the brain unfettered by screening by the frontal lobes. Unfortunately, it also explains how other autistic persons can be overwhelmed by the flood of incoming sensory data and are unable respond appropriately to their surroundings.The book is full of interesting anecdotal stories about human and animal behavior. One part I found particularly fascinating is the theory that the evolution of the human brain may have been influenced by the presence of domesticated wolves (i.e. dogs). I know it sounds hard to believe, but there is a rational basis for such speculation. The comparison of dog and wolf genetics indicates that dogs started being domesticated about 135,000 years ago which is the approximate time that modern humans began spreading throughout the world. The partnership between dogs and humans may have given an edge to modern humans in their competition with Neanderthals in Europe during the last ice age. So the expression, "Man's best friend," may have more truth to it than we realize!
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sincerity and straightforwardness of this book are refreshing. Grandin does not pretend to have all the answers, easily identifies what is "proven" and what is not and clearly identifies what her own opinions are. Her analysis of the normal human brain, the autistic human brain and the animal brain is fascinating.You will either become a vegetarian or a pet owner after reading this book - her love of animals is contagious!
Sevorg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fascinating insight into animal behaviour with a lot of interesting anecdotes. Very readable, although at times the writing style was a little repetitive. Has a behaviour troubleshooting section in the back that would be great for animal owners. Look forward to reading more by this author.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A unique and fascinating book. First of all, it is written by an autistic person. Or, since autistic people are non-verbal, more accurately the concepts, ideas and the material were provided by Temple Grandin -an autistic PhD in animal science, and written up by Catherine Johnson, also a PhD and a writer specializing in neuropsychiatry. Johnson¿s connection to autism are her two autistic sons. The fact that Grandin is a researcher at the university and teaches students is a miracle in itself.Grandin makes a thesis in her book that autistic people have a lot in common with animals in their of way of processing information, thinking and experiencing pain and emotions. (She thinks therefore that it puts here in a unique way to explain animal behaviour.) Well developed frontal lobes are characteristic of a normal human brain. They are also responsible for a global and coherent image of the world, and a generalized way of thinking. The outcome of healthy frontal lobes is more verbal expression and controlled behaviour (e.g. people have much more control over their emotions and fears than animals; they can filter them out, and animals can¿t) Grandin claims that since both autistic people and animals have smaller or underdeveloped frontal lobes, they share characteristics connected to this fact. They perceive the world in a series of sensory strings : sounds and images which record an amazing number of details, but do not get immediately interconnected into a meaningful whole. They have a lot of problems generalizing information (e.g. when an autistic child learns to butter a toast, we cannot take it for granted that he or she has learned how to spread peanut butter on it) and filtering unnecessary details or distractions. They also have a big problem coping with fears and negative emotions.Grandin also makes some revolutionary statements. She argues that animals have consciousness, and the fact that they don¿t have the language to express it does not preclude that. She herself does not think in words. She also says that animals show certain behaviours that have been so far attributed to humans only. Animals, she says, can kill for a pleasure of killing and gives examples of violent male gangs of adolescent dolphins, killer whales and chimpanzees. Animals can communicate and manipulate verbal language too, and the prairie dogs¿ language is thought to be most advanced and is most comprehensively described.On the whole, Grandin tries to argue (and convincingly in my opinion) that animals are very close to humans in many ways. She herself is an avid advocate of animal rights, and is a consultant on safe and humanitarian slaughter houses for cattle. Very impressive and recommended.
FionaCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Fascinating look at the world from the perspective of an autistic person and her insights into the way animals think and communicate.
theageofsilt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is certainly more pleasant for people to believe that animals are radically different from us - that they are without thought or emotion. It makes their exploitation more comfortable. Dr. Grandin uses her perspective as a autistic person to understand how animals might sense and process the world. This book is funny and easy reading with anecdotes that any animal owner will enjoy. It also promotes insight into human nature by offering the behavior of animals as a comparison and contrast. I found the book also profoundly sad, because we are aware of so much human suffering to add to it the suffering of animals, both wild and domesticated, is a little unbearable.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting book about animals and brain function. I learned a few new things about my pets and also about domestic animals in general.
Anagarika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book was good, with a great concept, but I didn't really agree with many of Ms. Grandin's assertions. She would often tell why she felt a certain way about something, but couldn't back it up with proof. Her argument for being an advocate for animals, but still eating meat doesn't hold up as well. However, this didn't make me not like her book.
mpontius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A must read for all animal owners. Excellent insight into your animal's behavior! Four stars!
aprlshwrs6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is an amazing insight into the minds of animals. I recommend this book to everyone I know. There is a ton of information that is fun to learn and share. It will change the way you see your animal companions.