Animals in Translation

Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

I am really enjoying this book. It’s written in a way like she is having a conversation with you. Special Education, and more specifically Autism, is something that I want to pursue in my education career (if I go anywhere, it is kind of depressing but this is not the place to rant about this). The descriptions in the book remind me of students I taught in Kitchener and England – their behaviour.


There is a section of the book that talks about fear and aggression. More specifically about dogs. What she says makes sense. You can’t think about animals the way you think about it as a human, you gotta think about it like the animal. Animals are social too, it doesn’t make sense to rear them in isolation – it’s like raising a kid in isolation, there will be social and emotional problems.

But a horse isn’t born knowing the rules; he has to be taught the rules by other horses. A stallion locked up in solitary confinement in a fancy show barn is not normal. He’s especially likely to show abnormal aggression.

In Chapter 5, Pain and Suffering, she wrote:

I don’t see the human race converting to vegetarianism anytime soon. I’ve tried to eat vegetarian myself, and I haven’t been able to manage it physically. I get the same feeling you get with hypoglycemia; I get dizzy and light-headed, and I can’t think straight

I’ve often felt guilty about eating meat (again). I feel weak for doing so; just because a blood test tells me to. It’s kind of reassuring to know that there are others like you. Maybe some people just have different metabolism and can’t sustain vegetarian diet. That doesn’t mean people need to eat meat every day. I believe in everything in moderation. You don’t need meat every meal.

the fact that humans evolved both as plant and meat eaters means that the vast majority of human beings are going to continue to eat both. Humans are animals, too, and we do what our animal natures tell us to do.

That means we’re going to continue to have feedlots and slaughterhouses, so the question is: what should a humane feedlot and slaughterhouse be like?

This is my view of it as well. It’s not the killing part that I am against. It’s the cruelty. It’s not an easy task – making all feedlots and slaughterhouses “humane”. One reason: “…although the principle is obvious, putting it into operation isn’t, because it’s hard to know how much pain an animal feels…The problem isn’t just that animals don’t talk. Animals also hide their pain.”

I mean the point of her book isn’t about animal cruelty. That part spoke to me, it’s why I commented on it. The book is trying to understand people with Autism and behaviour of animals. Maybe there is a link between the two.

Anyway, I am not very good at doing book reviews since I get distracted very easily by details and sometimes have a hard time seeing the overall picture. I do find this book fascinating. Things that she’s written are so simple but yet we don’t even think of it. Most people don’t see animals like she does.

I would love to hear her speak some day.

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