What is autism: a lifelong disability or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth it is both of these things and more - and the future of our society depends on our understanding it.
Wired reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.
Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
Along the way he reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, the father of Asperger's syndrome, whose "little professors" were targeted by the darkest social-engineering experiment in human history; exposes the covert campaign by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for 50 years; and casts light on the growing movement of "neurodiversity" activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, accommodations in the workplace and in education, and the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences.
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This book is a big deal!
I'm a service provider for people with autism, and this book really organized and crystallized the information I've been getting in bits and pieces for years. I felt the community described by this book and I agreed with so much of what Silberman was saying. I appreciated it on different levels- the natural history of autism was a really complicated progression. A lot of the questions and misinformation I frequently hear were addressed if not cleared up by the book. The anecdotes and personal experiences resonated with me, and made me feel like other people have seen and gone through the same kinds of experiences as me and the families I work with.
It's not that kind of book... But I guess Leo was my favorite because I feel like I know kids like him, right down to the straw twirling.
I really appreciated that the author was sympathetic and gentle in talking about biomedical cures and the antivaccination movement, while also unquestionably calling them nonsense time-wasters.
The content set around WWII was shocking.
The only thing I felt I wanted was more discussion of how hard it is for caretakers. There was a huge call to action for families and communities to support children and adults with autism, but the author basically implies that being anything but a stay-at-home parent and full-time autism advocate will put your kid at a disadvantage. This is a pie-in-the-sky sort of sentiment- what are the single parents and lower SES families supposed to do? On the other hand, he does list a ton of community resources, internet listserves, and message boards, so if I wanted to follow up and learn more about what happens in the real world he did provide resources.
- Speech pancake
The long hard road to proper identity on the Autistic spectrum.