The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
by Steve Silberman
This was one of the first books I read about autism, and what lucky timing I had, for it was published right when my wife and I were researching autism to understand more after our youngest son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Little did I know at the time this research would lead to my self-discovery as an Aspie.
NeuroTribes calls for much wider acceptance, understanding and full participation in society for those on the spectrum — in a word: neurodiversity. Silberman takes another look at autism through history, looking at historical figures who, more than likely, would be diagnosed as being on the spectrum were they alive today. And his perspective on the well-known figures in autism history: Hans Asperger, Leo Kanner, Bruno Bettelheim, etc., Silberman's approach is very human, very vivid. As well, this book dispels the notion that there has been a recent "epidemic" of autism.
NeuroTribes grew out of the overwhelming response to an article Silberman wrote for Wired Magazine in 2001, called The Geek Syndrome, and was the first science book to win the Samuel Johnson Prize. It has also won a California Book Award and a Books for a Better Life Award.
Autism Equality in the Workplace
Removing Barriers and Challenging Discrimination
by Janine Booth
Autism Equality In The Workplace is a clear and concise description of the barriers that prevent autistic people from thriving in the workplace — as well as solid recommendations to remove those barriers. Most books that address this topic focus on what the autistic job seeker can do to improve their chances of getting hired. While that sort of advice can be very useful, Booth turns this notion on its head and addresses the much-needed notion of what companies can do to make their workplaces more welcoming to those on the spectrum. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how to better accommodate autistic people in the workplace.
You can read a more in-depth analysis of Autism Equality In The Workplace, you can read my article, A Tale of Two Approaches to Neurodiversity Inclusion.
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time
by Mark Haddon
This book blew me away. It is a fictional account of a fifteen-year-old boy, Christopher John Francis Boone, who knows all the countries of the world and their capitals, and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched and he detests the color yellow.
Although he has a very logical brain, everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for Christopher. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed which puts his carefully constructive universe into disarray. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
The book is so on point that I identified profoundly with the young protagonist. The book had me on the edge of my seat and in tears (bit of a spoiler: tears of joy). While reading the book I just kenw that the author was himself on the spectrum. But I was wrong. I would never have expected such depth of insight from an NT. In an interview on NPR, the author, Mark Haddon said, "I have to say honestly that I did more research about the London Underground and the inside of Swindon Railway Station, where some of the novel takes place, than I did about Asperger's syndrome. I gave him kind of nine or ten rules that he would live his life by, and then I didn't read any more about Asperger's because I think there is no typical person who has Asperger's syndrome, and they're as large and diverse a group of people as any other group in society. And the important thing is that I did a lot of imagining, that I did a lot of putting myself into his shoes in trying to make him come alive as a human being rather than getting him right, whatever that might mean."
Spectrums of Advocacy and Genomic Science
by Jennifer Singh
When I heard about an author giving a talk at a local independent bookstore about autism, I went to learn more. Although this is an academic monograph, it is entirely accessible to the lay reader — and imparts an important perspective. For many of us on the spectrum, it is a point of contention that most of the scientific research has thus far focussed on finding a cure. Singh shows that, while this has certainly been the case, research is changing. Despite a billion-dollar, twenty-year effort to discover the gene that "causes" autism, no single autism gene has been identified. In Multiple Autisms, Singh describes how autism was first seen to be a genetic disorder and how this narrow perspective has affected those who study autism and those who live with it. This provides a uninque analysis of the practices, politics, and meaning of autism genetics from scientific, cultural, and social viewpoints.
Fortunately, scientific research has recently begun to broaden its scope to focus more on genomics than genetics, less on single genes than on hundreds of interacting genes. Multiple Autisms charts this shift and its consequences through nine years of ethnographic observations, analysis of scientific and related literatures, and more than seventy interviews with autism scientists, parents of children with autism, and people on the autism spectrum. What's more, the book includes a social history of parental activism in autism genetics, the scientific optimism about finding a gene for autism and the subsequent failure, as well as the cost in personal and social terms of viewing and translating autism through a genomic lens.
For anyone interested in a compassionate look at the state of modern genetic/genomic research into autism, Multiple Autisms is a wonderful place to start.
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