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Af Steve Silberman Summary: A New York Times bestsellerWinner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fictionA groundbreaking book that upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently. What is autism?

Silberman introduces readers to the early characters in this story, particularly Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. Describing not only their personal traits, but also the historical contexts in which they made their observations, the author leads readers to an understanding of how some of the earliest descriptions and definitions of the condition affected the field — and its progress, or lack thereof — for years thereafter.

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The story continues with a description of the re-focusing of the field of psychiatry itself and the evolution of the so-called DSM, an increasingly relied upon clinical manual for practitioners. Perhaps most interesting are the characters Silberman describes throughout the book.

Characters with eccentricities who may or may not have been identified as being on the spectrum, but some of whom went on to accomplished careers, particularly in the sciences, engineering and computers.


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That is not the only reason why this book is excellent news for parents and anyone journeying with autistics well away from all those sad legacy side-streets that led to nothing but grief and self-blame. Abandonment by government and agencies, for the most part, is a searing theme parents well know. Dominating stuff. And not for the good of millions either.

Canvassed in this book are essential questions such as: Where did this all begin? Why the different approaches? Why so little progress over the years?

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Why is there so little research actually about care of autistics and how they are faring? Why does it all matter so much? Why do autistic adults get ignored or silenced so often? What misfortunes have befallen autistics and those who care for them? Where was autism miscategorised as a medical, and not largely a social issue?

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Why does a change in perspective make such a world of difference to an autistic child or adult? Where do we go from here?

This book also puts what so many autistics have said over the years into non-autistic language, explained in a comprehensible way that the angst of the autistic advocate might not convey so well or acceptably.