I am going to preface this review by stating that I am autistic (diagnosed at 32), my eldest son is autistic (diagnosed at 5) and my youngest son is on the waiting list to be assessed by ADOS.
This is one of the most comprehensive, objective, and eye opening books about autism I’ve read. I read a lot about autism (research is my ‘special interest’), and this has blown most things out of the water (see – we can learn figures of speech).
What I love about this book is that it doesn’t pick a side. It’s not written with a political agenda, nor is it preaching to people to conform to a certain way of thinking. It’s facts, it’s research, it tells all of the theories and gives them all the same amount of paper and ink.
Now, anyone who reads it and still thinks ABA is a good idea, or that autistic people should still be in institutions awaiting a cure, is either heartless or didn’t understand what they were reading. If it’s the latter, I suggest you read it again, and listen to actually autistic people in your lives to find out why those things are the opposite of what you should strive for. Silberman has provided the facts, the research, and the testimonials; it’s up to you to use your critical reasoning skills to make an informed choice.
I went through many emotions whilst reading the book, from joy right through to physical pain. I read the section about eugenics aloud to my boyfriend, and I was sobbing so much he invited me to stop reading. I didn’t. In my opinion, it was essential to embrace that upset and discomfort so that I (and he) can ensure that we don’t get back to that place; something which is frighteningly possible with the likes of Autism Speaks at the forefront of autism research and promotion.
This, I feel, is essential reading for all. Not just autistic people and their families, not just those who work professionally with autistics; everyone. Unfortunately that brings me to my only negative. The book is extremely well written, however the language is overwhelmingly high brow. I’m an English student with an obsession with reading all things neuroscience, and there were a lot of words I had to look up to fully understand. I fear this will exclude a lot of people from accessing the book, and I wonder if there’s a way around this. Perhaps a simplified (but not patronising) abridged version would be a potential project in the future.
For now I will continue to recommend the book, and am willing to lend my copy to family and friends (as long as they promise to give it back).