A couple of years ago I asked Temple Grandin if people with autism have a special ability to relate to animals. She is, of course, widely known for both her research on farm animal behavior and welfare and for her books on autism. She believes her autism gives her an unusual ability to think like, for example, a cow being herded down a chute in a slaughterhouse.
I was interested in this issue because my friend Ellen has two autistic sons. Ellen told me that one of the kids, John, has especially deep relationships with their family’s dogs. This is not the case, however, with his brother Tim. The dogs freak Tim out. “They are just too unpredictable for him,” she said.
But it would depend on the type of animal. A recent study published in the journal Developmental Psychobiology suggests that Guinea pigs might be the animal of choice for some children with autism.