Let’s Read Steve Silberman’s New Book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity Together

The cover image from Steve Silberman's book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, pale yellow with bold red lettering and a small central flourish of plants, birds and butterflies in the centerThe 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 start the third week of September so you’ve got the next two weeks to get yourself a copy of the book (and to read ahead). You can order the book from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

  • Login at tashorgstg.wpengine.com and join the NeuroTribes Reading Group (clicking the link will take you there if you are already logged in; not presently a TASH member? Become one).

  • 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 dtaylor@tash.org.

Reading Schedule

Chapter Pages #pgs Dates
front matter
Introduction: Beyond the Geek Syndrome
1. The Wizard of Clapham Common
1-43 43 13-19 Sept
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
335-380 45 8-14 Nov
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
424-468 44 6-12 Dec

Still undecided?!

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:

An image of the NeuroTribes cover with a pull-quote from Nature Magazine's review, reading, 'A comprehensive history of the science and culture surrounding autism studies … an essential resource.'