The product of science journalist Steve Silberman’s nearly fifteen year engagement with the history of autism research hit the book shelves last week. The book was much anticipated in advance of its publishing, and the reviews are universally spectacular. This is perhaps the most significant history of the discovery, changing conception and public reaction to autism we will see in a generation. It is a book full of original historical discoveries that complicate the simple, progressive story of scientific and medical knowledge and that challenge widespread myths about the nature of autism and the growth of the diagnosis.
So let’s read this book together and discuss it in a virtual reading group. TASH’s new website has groups and forums for members. This is a great opportunity for TASH members interested in the history of autism to see what’s possible with our new social networking functionality.
How to participate
We’ll read about a chapter, around 40 pages, per week according to the schedule below. There is a conversation thread for each chapter in the group forum.
We can also discuss it on the social networks we’re already used to. For example, there is already a #NeuroTribes hashtag on twitter.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the group moderator, Donald Taylor, at email@example.com.
Introduction: Beyond the Geek Syndrome
1. The Wizard of Clapham Common
|2. The Boy Who Loves Green Straws||44-81||37||20-26 Sept|
|3. The Sister Viktorine Knew||82-139||57||27 Sept—3 Oct|
|4. Fascinating Peculiarities||140-186||46||4-10 Oct|
|5. The Invention of Toxic Parenting||187-222||35||11-17 Oct|
|6. Princes of the Air||223-260||37||18-24 Oct|
|7. Fighting the Monster (1st half)||261-305||44||25-31 Oct|
|7. Fighting the Monster (2nd half)||305-334||29||1-7 Nov|
|8. Nature’s Smudged Lines
9. The Rain Man Effect
|10. Pandora’s Box||381-423||42||15-21 Nov|
|We’ll take the week of Thanksgiving and the subsequent week of the TASH Conference off||22 Nov—5 Dec|
|11. In Autistic Space
12. Building the Enterprise: Design for a Neurodiverse World
Epilogue: The Mayor of Kensington
If you are unsure whether you are interested in the book, here are a couple of short teasers you can use to find out more about Steve Silberman, his previous writing and what you can expect from NeuroTribes:
Perhaps the best source is Silberman gave a TED Talk, The Forgotten History of Autism on his research in March 2015.
Silberman is a journalist covering technology stories for Wired. The essay that began Silberman’s engagement with issues of autism was his now famous essay on the prevalence of autism in Silicon Valley, “The Geek Syndrome” (Wired, vol. 9, no. 12, December 2001). Silberman wrote an op-ed this week in the Los Angeles Times, “Autism Speaks Needs to do a Lot More Listening” (24 August 2015).
There have been a number of glowing reviews of the book, the most outstanding of which I have collected here:
- Emily Willingham, “Why Were Cases Of Autism So Hard To Find Before The 1990s?“, Forbes, 7 July 2015
- Elon Green, “Rewriting Autism History“, The Atlantic Monthly, 17 August 2015
- Chris Gunter, “Autism: Seeing the Spectrum Entire“, Nature, vol. 524, 20 August 2015, pgs. 288–289, doi:10.1038/524288a
- Carl Zimmer, “How Autistic People Helped Shape the Modern World“, Wired, 20 August 2015
- The Economist, “Horrible history“, 22 August 2015
- Jennifer Senior, “Skewed Diagnosis“, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, 23 August 2015, p. BR11
- Saskia Baron, “Neurotribes Review — The Evolution of Our Understanding of Autism“, The Guardian, 23 August 2015
- Steve Phelps, “Before Autism Had a Name“, The Atlantic Monthly, 24 August 2015
- Michael Krasny, “Steve Silberman Explores the Forgotten History of Autism“, KQED Radio (NPR), 25 August 2015
- Dylan Matthews, “We’ve Called Autism a Disease for Decades; We Were Wrong“, VOX, 31 August 2015