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heliocopters
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24 Nov 2009, 3:28 pm

Hi, guys. This was a question that arose between my mom and myself this week. Can autism occur in species other than humans? Ever since we adopted our cat, Zoe, my mom has joking said that she's autistic (this was long before my diagnosis). Zoe is very timid. She prefers to be alone and walks around the perimeter of rooms instead of just walking through them like our other cats. When I asked my mom whether or not she actually believed Zoe was autistic, my mom said, "Sure, why not? She's a mammal."

Even if Zoe is just a timid cat, not autistic, do you think autism or other PDDs could occur in other species (especially mammals)?


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angelicgoddess
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24 Nov 2009, 3:57 pm

i actually know two books; "All Dogs have ADHD" and "all cats have Aspergers" :D

But to seriously answer your question; yes other animals can experience autistic symptoms. I read about mice who started showing repetitive and more self-absorved behavior that looked autistic after having a shortage of specific nutrients. I'll try and find the reference for you (too lazy now)



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24 Nov 2009, 4:53 pm

angelicgoddess wrote:
i actually know two books; "All Dogs have ADHD" and "all cats have Aspergers" :D

But to seriously answer your question; yes other animals can experience autistic symptoms. I read about mice who started showing repetitive and more self-absorved behavior that looked autistic after having a shortage of specific nutrients. I'll try and find the reference for you (too lazy now)


I had a friend who was a neuroscience major. She did her senior research project studying said mice. One of her big issues was that she was unsure if 'induced' autism in mice had any bearing on actual autism in humans.



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24 Nov 2009, 5:12 pm

I believe that if humans can be autistic, so can animals. I've noticed some behaviours in hamsters that people link with autism. Hamsters like being alone, they don't really have a sense of danger (once a hamster tried to run out of my hand when there was clearly a big drop below :lol:), and in a weird way, they kinda have their routines.


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FeralAspie
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24 Nov 2009, 6:43 pm

We had a goat that we believed was autistic. She liked to be away from the rest of the herd a lot of the time. And when she was with the herd she often seemed to get caught up in her own meditations and then, when she came to, wondered where all the others goats had gone :-) She also got really bothered by flies whereas none of our other goats were like that. She also looked different in a hard to define way - maybe awkward.

She was our favorite goat by far and the whole family was most distressed when she died a couple of months ago.



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24 Nov 2009, 6:52 pm

There's a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Does that count?


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24 Nov 2009, 7:07 pm

I've had like 150 cats.

I "get" cats, their mental states, their body language.

I know what they're thinking pretty well, I know what it is like to be a cat.


Parrots as well, which makes me really sad seeing a parrot that doesn't want to socialize, and just sits and tics and stims.



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24 Nov 2009, 7:16 pm

I thought cats generally just like to be alone.... I've always been wondering that questions if animals can actually be autistic.
but I found this interesting article....

Cat Therapy for Autistic Children <<

I was simply amazed... :)


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24 Nov 2009, 7:51 pm

My dog Gary is very autistic. I call him my Aspie dog. There are way to many things to explain to show why he is like an aspie or autie but he just is and it's because he lived in a pet store for 5 monthes because nobody wanted him as he doesn't look pure bred. He lacks social skills in areas with other dogs and other people and he's always frightened.



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24 Nov 2009, 10:08 pm

Human genetic mutations do not occur in non-humans. Cats and dogs have their own mutations that we don't.
Notice that we're the only creatures that walk around on two legs and communicate using language? Exactly.
While there is such a thing as convergent evolution, that's reaching the same end through different means, not the same ones.



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24 Nov 2009, 10:30 pm

X_Parasite wrote:
Human genetic mutations do not occur in non-humans. Cats and dogs have their own mutations that we don't.
Notice that we're the only creatures that walk around on two legs and communicate using language? Exactly.
While there is such a thing as convergent evolution, that's reaching the same end through different means, not the same ones.

You're assuming that autism is caused by a mutation?


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angelicgoddess
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25 Nov 2009, 4:33 am

X_Parasite wrote:
Human genetic mutations do not occur in non-humans. Cats and dogs have their own mutations that we don't.
Notice that we're the only creatures that walk around on two legs and communicate using language? Exactly.
While there is such a thing as convergent evolution, that's reaching the same end through different means, not the same ones.


You are assuming things that are not medical facts yet. We still know very little about the human brain, let alone about autism.

Fact is that autistic symptomes can be seen in many animals. That doesn't mean they are truly autistic though.

This topic is one of guessing games I guess :wink:



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25 Nov 2009, 8:16 am

justMax wrote:
Parrots as well, which makes me really sad seeing a parrot that doesn't want to socialize, and just sits and tics and stims.


I think it is more relevant to compare other social species (like parrots, excellent example!) to humans, rather than species that are normally relatively solitary. And yes, I know cats can live happily in groups (we once had 10), but most cat species in nature don't. Animal models are rarely identical to the human situation, but they certainly can give insights to new ways to view human conditions.


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pezar
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25 Nov 2009, 11:22 am

Homosexuality has been observed in dogs and horses. So why can't other species have autism?



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25 Nov 2009, 5:04 pm

I don't see keeping to oneself as a specifically autistic trait. I know many people who are quite solitary but not autistic, just introverted and socially withdrawn for other reasons. I only get like that when I am anxious or struggling with sensory problems (which has been most of this year, but not the other 40-odd years before that).

Mary Day-Petrano (an autistic savant -- you can Google her) has a particular affinity for horses and she told me that horses actually use certain parts of their brains in a manner similar to the way autistic savants do.

In theory, any kind of mammal could have sensory processing disorder and similarly styled brains to autistic brains in humans. Someone here at WrongPlanet told me a long time ago that research has shown it to be so -- I just wouldn't know where that message is now, so I can't provide any good evidence now, I am afraid.

It depends on how you define autism. Is it certain kinds of stereotypical behaviour, or is it a certain kind of brain (which sometimes produces a variety of behaviours unlike those of neurotypical people)? My autism is what makes me have meltdowns, but it is also what makes me love categorising and systematising. And if I spend several days doing stuff that neurotypical people might also enjoy doing, that doesn't mean I have ceased to be autistic. I was always autistic, and I always will be autistic. When someone tells me, "But you don't LOOK autistic!" (naively intended as a compliment) I sometimes say, "Well, I could always have a meltdown or start flapping or something if you need proof." They expect a certain stereotype. Autism doesn't always look like a wallflower. I speak in public. I dance in front of people. For many years I loved going out in a group.

Does a dog have to freak out and bark obscenely and then fall down exhausted, or line up his bones, or arrange his bedding symmetrically to be called autistic?

They diagnose autism in humans according to behavioural criteria. That's wrong. They should identify autism by using brain tests, only that would be too expensive.


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25 Nov 2009, 5:06 pm

yes i think its very possible! i know many animals who could be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, i even write a blog about my cat who i swear is on the spectrum... www.adventureswithsaps.blogspot.com


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