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Summary

What is autism: a devastating developmental condition, 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. Following on from his groundbreaking article 'The Geek Syndrome', 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 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 casting light on the growing movement of 'neurodiversity' and mapping out a path towards a more humane world for people with learning differences.

©2016 Steve Silberman (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

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A journey through the history of autism.

Many parent who have newly diagnosed autistic sons or daughters are at the beginning of a journey with their child to optimise their life chances. There are courses on offer and 'expert specialists' who can advise us, but where did the culture of diagnosis and treatments available develop and what precipitates their development. This book will help anyone develop an understanding of some of the challenges faced by families with autistic members. The book also charts the political, social and economic influences that have shaped what we recognise as autism today. As an autistic person and mother of two autistic children reading this book, it is wonderful to hear that resources are moving away from curing or eradicating to focus on support to integrate people affected by autism into a health daily life. Lorna Wing and Asperger emerge with Temple Grandin as the heroes of this book, I think they are also my heroes.
The book is more approachable to read than some academic works and offers an over view of some of the theories surrounding autism. Not shying away from the darker days of the Second World War in Europe and how many young children were murdered because of their disability, it is at time challenging but well worth reading.

21 people found this helpful

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A must listen/read

I was totally blown away by the information in this audio book. If you have been told you're autistic you would do well to listen or read this book. It's packed with history about how autism and Asperger's became a diagnosed condition and how we got to where we are today. It tells the stories of some truly inspirational People, their struggles and their success. I feel I have found my tribe through listening to this book. Do have some tissues at hand though as some parts are difficult to hear. Be proud of your autistic traits, and advocate for those who still to this day don't have the freedom to stim and take their mask off due to the prejudice and institutionalisation that still happens today in some parts of the world.

Also William Hopes voice made this a pleasant listen, I appreciated his interpretation.

5 people found this helpful

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Varied and informative.

Much easier to listen to than it was to read. Includes examples of successful autists while also showing those individuals who, along with their families struggle the most and their challenges and successes. Demonstrates how guidelines for the diagnosis have evolved and why. With an interesting look at those involved such as Leo Kanner, Hans Asperger, Lorna Wing, Wakefield and many other lesser known.

14 people found this helpful

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Well written and well researched

William Hope does a great job of narrating this book and it has been well researched by Steve Silberman.

This book gives a brilliant account of the history of autism and how numerous psychiatrists through extensive study, research and observations have discovered children and adults that fall within the spectrum. There is a range of differing views on what best describes a person with autism and where somebody fits on the autistic spectrum. It delves into the history of various psychiatrists such as Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger etc and how they discovered autism and the differing ranges.

It gives numerous anecdotes of people and their families that live with various levels of autism and how they are treated and how they live with the condition. It discusses the incredible talents and abilities that people with autism have and how society should have a better appreciation for what they contribute. It also talks about how people that think differently can be bullied and abused which could also potentially lead to them developing autism.

It briefly talks about the film Rainman and how Dustin Hoffman developed the character.

3 people found this helpful

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a must read/listen for anybody with a brain

I can't write anything that will do this justice. It's an emotional rollercoaster, and for an autistic person, a voyage of self discovery. chapter 15 should be mandatory for all humans.

2 people found this helpful

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The autism journey

A must read/listen for anyone who has an interest in neurodiversity. Silberman takes you on the journey of the time autism was first given prominence to the present day. It addresses the many different thoughts and attitudes towards autism. A fascinating book.

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An excellent review of the history of Autism.

This is an excellent, detailed, well researched review of the history of autism. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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I have my answers at last

I consider this book so important that I've just bought several copies to give to other parents of children with autism. This is a "must" read!

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent Reading For Autistics

I am a recently diagnosed autistic person, and I was really wrestling with it - I was obsessing over my deficits that I was barely aware I had until my diagnosis. This book made me see the gifts that autism has given me, and made me feel capable again.

1 person found this helpful

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not sure

really struggling to listen to this. it's very dense and should have realised I dont really need all this history and stories. I've found the aspergirls by Rudy simone the most supportive so far
bit for the more academic reader or listener it is most definitely full of research.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Armand Jarri
  • Armand Jarri
  • 04-01-21

Get to the point!!

An intro and two chapters in, i haven't figuered out what this book is about. Written around the lives of a number of persons, the author bores the reader with unnecessary personal details that you have no clue what it is all about. Stopped at the second chapter.

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  • K Martin
  • 26-07-20

Excellent research and storytelling

I found this book riveting. It's a story with ups and downs, spanning generations, with fabulous characters. It's tragic, funny, hopeful, enraging. It is very informative, and I trust the depth and range of the research. The writer has a position, but he gives everyone a fair hearing. I understand autism much better, and I want to find out more.

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  • sanjay podder
  • 25-01-19

The Best Book on Autism

If you want to understand Autism in depth and what you can do about it... this book is a must and sufficient read. The author has done an amazing service to Humanity with this book. God Bless Him!!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-08-18

So you think Autism is a recent invention?

A fascinating and thoroughly readable deep dive into the roots and history of autism through stories. Some stories made me angry - we have not always treated those who are different well - some made me laugh, some made me go 'ahh, that explains it'. I especially enjoyed the section on how those who have been diagnosed are taking ownership of the way autism is perceived and changing the focus from cure to support and community.
For most, this is a book to be read in sections overtime as it is a huge amount of information to process. The writing and the narration are both very easy to work with and not at all like listening to a text book. The author is a journalist after all.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who works with or knows someone or is on the spectrum.