The Legacy of Autism
and the Future of Neurodiversity

by Steve Silberman

This is one long book, but when I finally got around to it I was glad I took the time to read the whole thing. Silberman starts way back in history, describing historical figures who, today, might well be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.  Some of them I had never heard of, but I enjoyed reading about them, their talents and abilities, and their unique quirks.  There was no diagnosis in those days, people just knew and accepted that certain scientists or professors were different, socially awkward, absent-minded, or just plain unusual in their manner and habits.

Silberman follows one family from their son Leo’s birth and subsequent diagnosis through their search for a cure. Leo’s mother is Shannon des Roches Rosa, senior editor of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.  Early on Leo’s parents hopefully followed, and later rejected, the dangerous Defeat Autism Now!  or DAN therapies. Their path led them to accepting and loving their son for exactly who he is.
Silberman’s book traces the history of autism from Hans Asperger’s work in Austria and Leo Kanner’s work in the United States, including researching previously unknown connections between the two psychologists, who never met.

We also get to meet Kim Peek, “the real Rain Man,” along with many more unforgettable characters.

Although it is not a short or easy read, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in autism. There is a wealth of information here!

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