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NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity is a best-selling book by Steve Silberman describing the secret history of autism, and the future of the neurodiversity movement championed by autistic people and their loved ones.

The book begins by focusing on the history of autism, from Kanner's push to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum, to Asperger's autism-positive approach to protect autistic kids from eugenics,[1] to the torture inflicted by Lovaas (the father of ABA), to the beginnings of the neurodiversity and autism rights movements.

Silberman explained that he wanted to write a 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."[2]

Silberman disagrees with the insistence upon conformity and cures that continues today, arguing that it is part of the history of eugenics, and is clear in the rhetoric of Autism Speaks.

"It’s definitely true that when it comes to how society has treated autistic people, it’s neurotypicals who seem to exhibit the most glaring lack of empathy," Silberman told Forbes.[3]

Reception

NeuroTribes received acclaim from critics, and from autistic adults and their allies.[4]

"Ambitious, meticulous and largehearted history...NeuroTribes is beautifully told, humanizing, important."
The New York Times Book Review
NeuroTribes is remarkable. Silberman has done something unique: he’s taken the dense and detailed history of autism and turned the story into a genuine page-turner. The book is sure to stir considerable discussion.”
—John Elder Robison, Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at The College of William & Mary and author of Look Me in the Eye
“In this genuine page-turnerSteve Silberman reveals the untold history of autism: from persecution to parent-blaming, from Rain Man to vaccines, of doctors for whom professional ego trumped compassion, to forgotten heroes like Hans Asperger, unfairly tainted by Nazi links.  It ends on an optimistic note, with ‘autistics’ reclaiming the narrative and defining autism in their terms — more difference than disability and an essential part of the human condition. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in autism or Asperger’s, or simply a fascination with what makes us tick.”
—Benison O’Reilly, co-author of The Australian Autism Handbook

References

  1. Gizmodo: NeuroTribes Is the Best Book You Can Read to Understand Autism
  2. The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: NeuroTribes Is Finally Here: Celebrating With a Review, and a Giveaway
  3. Forbes: 'NeuroTribes' Will Change What You Think About Autism And Here's Why
  4. Amazon.com: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity


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