Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
The Book Club selection on the Autism Spectrum Disorders site for April 2006 will be Animals In Translation: Using The Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson. Both women hold a Ph.D., with Catherine also being the parent to two boys on the Spectrum.
The paperback edition was released January 2006 and consists of seven chapters, notes, index and a Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide. Chapter One begins with My Story by Temple Grandin, covering thirty years as an Animal Scientist - forty years being interested in animals and a lifetime being autistic. The first sentence in the last paragraph of this chapter covers the author's intent, " I hope this book will help regular people be a little less verbal and a little more visual."
Chapter Two is about How Animals Perceive The World - a title that my soon to be eleven year-old could easily pen. My son is very concerned about how animals feel and wonders what it would be like to be various species. At the moment he is perseverating on hamsters and guinea pigs. Any chance he gets he is telling me another important fact about these animals. He was sad to learn their life span is only three years.
Animal Feelings is discussed in Chapter Three covering dogs, chickens, horses and wolves. Core emotions and types of behavior are listed, as well as How To Make A Pig Fall In Love and Feelings From My Squeeze Machines. My son Matthew tried using the hug machine at an Occupational Therapy clinic for the school district a few years ago. I was lucky to snap a few photos of this experience!
Chapter Four goes over Animal Aggression, which includes pain-based and stress-induced types of aggression. Fear and socializing are also explored in this chapter.
Pain and Suffering is covered in Chapter Five and delves into autism and pain, learning by watching, staying alive and An Elephant Never Forgets.
Chapter Six is How Animals Think - animal specialists, music language, prairie dogs, animal warfare and animals on the inside are explored.
Chapter Seven covers Animal Genius: Extreme Talents, which discusses What Makes Animals and Autistic People Different, savants and what animals can and can't do.
Behavior and Training Troubleshooting Guide gives examples and principles along with methods. It begins with a list of the eight basic motivators in animals.
Since my son Nicholas wants to work with animals and cares more about animals than people I feel perusing Animals In Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior will offer some insight into the way he thinks and views animals.
I hope to entice Nicholas to also read the book once I am done, perhaps I will make it a summer project. I believe by knowing he is not alone in how he perceives animals will make him feel better about his decision to work with animals.
For anyone who has a child with an interest in animals, a relative not comprehending the autistic mind, share Animals In Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior with them this Autism Awareness month and spread the knowledge.
Reading Guide at Harcourt Books. You can find a Teaching Guide and read an excerpt.
Promoting Autism Awareness