Temple Grandin

Animals in Translation Publication date : September 7, 2006

The author, who succeeded in overcoming autism, gives her view of how animals think.
Temple Grandin argues that autistics sometimes function in the same manner as certain animals. As a result, autistics are the perfect models to explore the way animals experience suffering, fear, aggression, love and friendship, and how they acquire and communicate knowledge. For Grandin, animals are in many ways much brighter than is generally believed.
She shows that language is not a prerequisite for thought and that animals possess consciousness. Arguing that animals and autistic people have a great deal in common, she shows that their deficiencies — such as their obsession with detail — can also constitute a great skill. She explains how, in order to function, the ordinary human brain, unlike the animal or autistic brain, blocks out a good portion of surrounding reality. She explains the “superhuman” skills of certain animals — which are much like those of autistic savants. She shows how animals, like humans, use their emotions to make decisions and to foresee the future.
Teeming with anecdotes and striking examples, this book gives the reader an amazing insight into mental processes.
Grandin’s highly original thesis is that autistic people can help us learn more about how animals think — and that animals possess some amazing intellectual skills.
This is a valuable contribution by a scientist who draws both on her firsthand observations of animals and on her own experience of autism.

Temple Grandin, an expert on animal (particularly cattle) behaviour and mental processes, is an associate professor at Colorado State University. Autistic in childhood, she has devoted her life to understanding how autistic people think and to seeking ways of treating autism. She is the author of Emergence: Labeled Autistic (published in French by Editions Odile Jacob as Ma vie d’autiste, 1994) and Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism (published in French by Editions Odile Jacob as Penser en images, 1997). Animals in Translation is a best-seller in the United States.