In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

By | October 18, 2019
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism Author John Donvan
ISBN-10 0307985709
ISBN-13 9780307985705
Year 2017-01-17
Pages 688
Language English
Publisher Broadway Books
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Finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in General NonfictionAn extraordinary narrative history of autism the riveting story of parents fighting for their children s civil rights of doctors struggling to define autism of ingenuity self advocacy and profound social changeNearly seventy five years ago Donald Triplett of Forest Mississippi became the firstchild diagnosedwithautism Beginning with his familys odyssey In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it Unfolding over decades it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autismby liberating children from dank institutions campaigning for their right to go to school challenging expert opinion on what it means to have autism and persuading society to accept those who are different It is the story of women like Ruth Sullivan who rebelled against a medical establishment that blamed cold and rejecting refrigerator mothers for causing autism and of fathers who pushed scientists to dig harder for treatments Many others played starring roles too doctors like Leo Kanner who pioneered our understanding of autism lawyers like Tom Gilhool who took the families battle for education to the courtroom scientists who sparred over how to treat autism and those with autism like Temple Grandin Alex Plank and Ari Neeman who explained their inner worlds and championed the philosophy of neurodiversity This is also a story of fierce controversiesfrom the question of whether there is truly an autism epidemic and whether vaccines played a part in it to scandals involving facilitated communication one of many treatments that have proved to be blind alleys to stark disagreements about whether scientists should pursue a cure for autism There are dark turns too we learn about experimenters feeding LSD to children with autism or shocking them with electricity to change their behavior and the authors reveal compelling evidence that Hans Asperger discoverer of the syndrome named after him participated in the Nazi program that consigned disabled children to death By turns intimate and panoramic In a Different Keytakes us on a journey from an era when families were shamed and children were condemned to institutions to one in which a cadre of people with autism push not simply for inclusion but for a new understanding of autism as difference rather than disability

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