This Week in WTF?

In a Different Key


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First there’s been a good deal of discussion the last couple of days about the new book, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker. I haven’t read it yet, but Ari did.

In Ari Ne’eman’s Vox article, he compared In a Different Key with Steve Silberman’s NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity and remarked, “If Silberman’s NeuroTribes serves as an indictment of the past 50 years of autism history, Zucker and Donvan have appointed themselves as passionate counsel for the defense.”

Please see the Vox article for more. Ne’eman did a great job of breaking it all down.

 

What is Autism – The New Yorker Article

seeing-the-spectrum-black-eyes

Now we have another article looking at the history of autism, released on Jan 25th at The New Yorker. This one I did read and I really don’t know what to think. I keep hoping I am reading it wrong, or just not ‘getting it’. But parts of the article seem really… WTF’ish.

Some highlights include: (emphasis mine)

The world has always been unpredictable and disorderly, and some people have always found its ways unbearable. But there hasn’t always been autism—or its related categories, Asperger’s syndrome and (the current official term) autism-spectrum disorder. Autism was discovered, and given its identity as a discrete pathological condition, by two physicians working independently of each other during the Second World War.

There hasn’t always been autism? Source please. This is one I am wondering if I am reading wrong. Does the author think autism is a new condition of modern times, or does he mean we didn’t always have a word for it?

It’s a searing experience to have a child who doesn’t talk, who doesn’t want to be touched, who self-harms, who demands a regularity and an order that parents can’t supply, whose eyes are not windows to their souls but black mirrors.

This one inspired the graphic above. All I could say is WTF?!?!?

If you are “on the spectrum,” you may never feel that you are like other people, but with therapy you may learn to seem so, and that can count for much.

This one too, had me yelling at my poor monitor. How dismissive. To think that with extensive therapy, I can learn to pretend to be like the weird people around me and that, more than anything else I do in life, is what really matters. That is what I hear when I read this.

No thank you.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/01/25/seeing-the-spectrum

Additional Reading

The errors — and revelations — in two major new books about autism
Ari Ne’eman, 01/21/2016, Vox.com
http://www.vox.com/2016/1/21/10801846/autism-in-a-different-key

Was Dr. Asperger A Nazi? The Question Still Haunts Autism
Steve Silberman, 01/26/2016, NPR.org
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/20/463603652/was-dr-asperger-a-nazi-the-question-still-haunts-autism?live=1

The Vindicated Parents – A history of autism hints at why the vaccination scare has taken hold so firmly
Laura Miller 01/26/2016, Slate.com
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2016/01/in_a_different_key_a_history_of_autism_by_john_donvan_and_caren_zucker_reviewed.html

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