In a Different Key: The Story of Autism (Donvan & Zucker)

First, all credit should go to the co-authors. They really do make this a story which, for those of us who are not too science-minded, is much appreciated. If they occasionally rely a bit too much on the chapter-ending cliffhanger, that’s forgivable.

Science stories or stories of science (in my limited experience) are stories of ignorance to knowledge. But this story of autism offers no such straight line. Much delayed by the post-Holocaust aversion to genetic testing, the story of autism is one of fits and starts, collaboration and competition and, astonishingly, one huge backward step (the anti-vaccine movement). I knew that it has always been difficult to define autism, so it has long been difficult to count how many people are autistic. I knew that there are some who question the validity of Aspberger’s Syndrome, though I did not know of Mr. Asperger’s (historically necessary? overzealous?) connections with the Nazi party.

I knew of Andrew Wakefield’s article and that it had been refuted, but the web of his lies, manipulations, and, in my mind, criminal acts was staggering. Does anyone know his current status? I know he was struck off the register in the UK. Can he practice medicine anywhere?

I know and admire Temple Grandin’s work (http://www.templegrandin.com/) and should see that movie. The two organizations that most impressed me are the Simons Foundation (https://sfari.org/) and ASAN (http://autisticadvocacy.org/).

What should be the goal: a cure or learning how to best help those in need?

If anyone in  your life spends any time with anyone with autism, this is required reading.

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