I once spent some time working on a dairy farm and it seems that one commonality between the cows is that they all have, let's say, quirks. but there was this one cow in particular who exhibited behavior of routinely remaining in precisely the same position every time she was going in to get milked. None of the other cows did this, and at one point the notion of autism struck me; I think it's something about the idea of repetitive behavior and the potential for a connection there. I'd like to know what you think and to be as expansive on this as possible.

  • $\begingroup$ There have been some talk about monkeys with autism and the possibility of creating it through genetic engineering. See articles: (link 1) and (link 2). I haven't studied it enough to feel confident in saying that this research is sound. Whether there is any validity to it or not, I can't say. $\endgroup$ – Eff Feb 4 '19 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ That's really interesting, thanks. It's less surprising that it'd be present in animals as intelligent as monkeys but if it were present in cows then I think the implication would be that it's probably present in most species of mammal, that'd be incredible I think. Cheers for those links. $\endgroup$ – Sam Cottle Feb 4 '19 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ There is a saying that "All cats have aspergers" $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 7 '19 at 21:24

It is difficult to identify autism definitively in other species, especially since autism encompasses a very diverse group of people who have different experiences.

However, because there is so much interest in studying autism, researchers have developed models for autism in model organisms, specifically in mice, which share some of the diagnostic features of autism.

Therefore, it is at least plausible that any social animal could have some individuals that share traits associated with autism, although it is going to be a matter of opinion whether these traits are autism or just something similar (at least until the mechanisms are better understood). Likely a repetitive behavior alone is not sufficient as a diagnostic criteria, but it could be one out of several.

Silverman, J. L., Yang, M., Lord, C., & Crawley, J. N. (2010). Behavioural phenotyping assays for mouse models of autism. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(7), 490.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you Bryan, it was just an idea really but having spent a lot of time with this particular animal and observing her behavior (and I know cows aren't especially social animals to begin with) I felt as though an interpretation of autism might be applicable given her particular lack of socialization (compared with the others) and her repetitive behavior. Thanks for your answer. $\endgroup$ – Sam Cottle Feb 5 '19 at 16:18

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