NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I recently found out at age 31 that I am on the autism spectrum. I say “found out,” but really, it was more like putting a word to something I’d known all my life: My neurological layout differs from that of almost everyone around me.
I sense differently, and more intensely. Sound is louder, and I can hear higher pitches. Light is brighter. Smells are more intense. Due (I think) to their increased intensity, I process audio and visual stimuli more slowly, and it takes me longer to react. As a result, my short term, or “working,” memory is terrible, but my long term memory seems to be better than average. I can sense the feelings of those around me, but not always understand why they feel they way they do. I do not usually know what others are thinking, nor do they know what I’m thinking. Others usually cannot sense my feelings, nor read my facial expressions. The same goes for body language. It’s very rare that I meet someone broadcasting (and receiving) on the same wavelength.
I am (and have always been) a huge bookworm, so my diagnostician suggested I look into some books on the subject of autism. I picked up NeuroTribes as a starting point. It was quite the page-turner! I tore through it in about three days.
What this book is:
– A history of autism, the clinical standards used to diagnose it, and its classification(s)
– A qualitative look at the lives of individual autistic people and parents of autistic children
– An overview of autistic contributions to science, technology, and culture throughout history (but especially in the Information Age)
– Insight into the general neurotypical point-of-view regarding autistic people and autism
– A roadmap to guide neurotypical understanding of autistic thought processes
What this book is *not*:
– A how-to guide on making autistic people more neurotypical, or even making us appear more neurotypical
– A pity party for those neurotypicals who imagine it worse to live and work alongside autistic people than to actually deal with the effects of being autistic in a world not made for us
– Eugenics propaganda
If you want advice on making autistic people more “normal,” or on reducing/removing our presence in the population, then this book is not for you. I should note here that the author of this book is *not* autistic, just very open-minded.
If, however, you seek to understand the growing population of autistic people (much as we must seek constantly to understand neurotypicals), then I think you will find this an engaging and enlightening read. I know I did.
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