Autism and Animal Consciousness

by Michael D. SellersOne of the things that is going to figure very prominently in Way of the Dolphin is an attempt to portray and explore “dolphin consciousness”.   In connection with this I’ve been doing a lot of research and one of the most interesting things I’ve come across is the way in which autistic individuals may have the greatest insight into this. In line with this I’m attaching two things — a file and a link.Here is the file: What Do Animals Think? Download what_do_animals_think.docThis is an interesting artlcle which focuses on Temple Grandin, a very famous (in certain circles) autistic person who is considered a top authority on animal consciousness and who designed the humane slaughter system for cattle that is currently in use in the United States. Very interesting observations.Even more compelling is a film made by an incredibly talented and articulate (even though she can’t speak a word) young autistic woman. Here is the link: In My Language It’s a six minute film — the first three minutes are without words, then there is a translation that is very compelling and interesting.It may not be immediately apparent what this has to do with the movie — but consider this. We are attempting to depict a process of breaking down the walls of “no communication” between humans and a very intelligent animal. Ken Levassuer, our dolphin expert, likens it to the situation of “Helen Keller before Annie Sullivan” …. i.e Keller was perceived to be mentally handicapped because she couldn’t communicate–yet once a system was devised she proved to be brilliant. Similarly, the autistic film-maker in this film had no ability to communicate with us until the keyboard interface allowed her master English and communicate that way. When you watch her film, it may seem at first to be kind of random but it’s not. She is taking us inside her world in which she has a much more acute awareness of physical things — textures, sounds, the way things feel…..and this, we are to understand from the scientific literature….has much in common with the way animals perceive their world.

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~ by Michael Sellers on November 21, 2007.

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