4 out of 5 stars.
I would like to thank Penguin Group Avery for an ARC of this book in exchange for an open an honest review.
This book was a real rollercoaster to read. It deserves a higher rating than I have given it, but some of the simply horrific things it relates done to innocent children in the past… it left me cold at times and I needed to walk away and give my HFASD son a hug, happy to know times had moved on.
I appreciate and understand why the history of Autism was captured in this book and I also appreciate that is was used to help us move on and realise times have changed. It just had some pretty slow and tough reading moments for me at times.
As a mum of a child I always knew was different (actually all of my children are different, it’s what makes them all amazing. Just one has needed to be boxed into a diagnosis) I’ve never seen that difference as a negative or a derogative thing. I am appalled that in this day and age so many people still see ASD and other features that detract from “normal” as faults and flaws and make them bad parents. In our house normal has always seemed so over-rated and something we never strived for. And yes, we do fit the pattern of the type of people more likely to have an ASD child. I took that as a compliment! Our family tree is jam packed full of engineers, scientists (yes, we’re nerds and geeks) and other above average folk. If my son is the end result, high fives all around! We’ve broken through the “average” evolutionary branch of how to think. We also believe everyone is on the spectrum, it’s just we’re not all clustered around the same ‘normal’ spot. 😉
I honestly feel all the panic merchants toting ASD as the modern world plague should read this book. The reason more children in our society are being publically diagnosed and acknowledged as HAVING ASD is that the stigma is being removed. We’re not locking them up anymore or, worse yet, killing them like we used to. Something everyone needs to think about.
Though I will say here and now this is NOT a book on how to be the parent of an ASD child. ‘NeuroTribes’ is simply what it says it is: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. Meaning it is a history of how ASD was treated and where it can go (and it can take us) in the future.
Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. Though I would emphasise this isn’t a book on being a parent coping with an ASD child. It is not a support book on “how to survive” or anything so banal. It is a history of this mental difference and how it has been perceived in our society. I would strongly recommend this book to people into the fear mongering that comes with treating ASD as a 21st century plague due to modern living and medication. Though, seriously, the people I know who would say such things wouldn’t dare read a book that appeared to contradict them. 😉
Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. It is something I would encourage my whole family to read, when old enough to do so, as it is one of those great markers in history. This is how it used to be done, this is what they used to think you should do, this is what it possibly is, this is how we should try and proceed.
In summary: An interesting, startling, saddening and uplifting history of ASD. I have adult friends on the spectrum who keep warning me about books on autism and theories on how to deal with it and so on that are based on their own upbringing. Until I read this book, I never understood why they were afraid I would be misled as to how to help my son, as I’m entering its world in a far more enlightened age than when they did. This is a great book, despite the mixed emotions it has stirred within me.
Until next time,