Review: Neurotribes

From Goodreads: What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all 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 fifty 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.

Erin’s Thoughts: My earliest memories of autism are with my uncle who hardly spoke, lived with my grandparents, and was obsessed with organs (the musical kind). I spent time in high school volunteering in a day school for students with special needs, many of whom had autism. I grew up to be a special education teacher and welcomed a great number of children with autism and their families into my heart. Over the years, while loving many people on the autism spectrum, I’ve sought to learn as much about autism as I can. I have read a lot of books. A lot. I’ve read the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. All of this to say that when I tell you that Neurotribes is not only one of the best books on the subject that I’ve ever read, but destined to become critical reading on autism in the future…well, I’m speaking with a touch of experience.

Despite being pretty familiar with the names Kanner, Asperger, Rimland, Lovaas, and many others, I learned so much from Steve SIlberman’s detailed, well-researched, and engaging work. This book really is the legacy of autism.  Silberman deftly describes the existence of autism as a neurodiversity throughout history while also shining a light on the work of many professionals who have defined and redefined autism throughout the years. You do not have to be a psychologist or educator to understand this book.  Even if you’re only experience with autism is Rain Man (it isn’t, trust me), this book is highly accessible and completely enlightening.  Neurotribes joins the ranks of Unstrange Minds by Roy Richard Grinker and the works of Temple Grandin as my most highly recommended reading on autism.

Comments are closed.