“Antipredator instinct”

“Autistic children don’t like anything that looks out of place−a thread hanging on piece of furniture, a wrinkled rug, books that are crooked on the bookshelf…Could this be an old antipredator instinct that has surfaced? In the wild, a broken branch on a tree or disturbed earth is a possible sign of predator activity in the vicinity.” (Grandin 171)


I find this quote to be so striking, so compelling, I re-read it a couple of times to process. There are so many thoughts that run through my head I feel as if though I’m oozing with things to say about this. First, I feel that Grandin is brilliant for making this connection because it makes so much sense, and apparently she is right about something if she is a very successful engineer/visualizer that creates many plants (one third) for farm animals. I think that testifies to the truth behind her theories. She is someone who lives with this disability, not an outsider, which enables her to live it and breath it 24/7.

Going back to the quote above I feel that it is so interesting how she is comparing people with autism to prey and how they see minor details with such precision because they are far more instinctive than “normal” people. Something out of place doesn’t bug me, and I really wont ponder why it is out of place when it comes to these things, but through the quote I can visualize that small branch that is broken and how a lion has passed through there just moments ago. These details determine whether these animals live or not, so they are literally essential to them. Likewise, although not as extreme, people with autism feel like prey, they are introverts who notice these small things due to a fear they have, as Grandin explains. I feel that she is trying to make us realize how in people with autism, instincts are heightened causing them to be almost superhuman with a characteristic that can be known as “antipredator instinct.” This reminds me a bit of Sonora Taylor in the way that she relates herself to the animals and finds commonalities that make animals and us more similar. Grandin brings forth this whole discourse of instinct and how sensitive people with autism can be, which I find extraordinarily interesting and compelling, I love the way in which she has made it her career. She finds these little things us “normal” people don’t realize or see and makes the environment for the farm animals better by eliminating many discomforts we ignore. In the spirit of not making this so long, I feel like Grandin does a great job in paralleling the two, and showing how people with autism have antipredator instincts that make them very alert and aware of their surroundings just like farm animals, which can save their life.  


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