Occasionally a book comes along outside of my usual interests that grabs my attention. In a Different Key:The Story of Autism by John Donovan and Caren Zucker is one such book.
If you are looking to understand autism and it’s history this is a book that tracing the developing thoughts and understanding regarding autism from the 1930’s until today. I will warn you that the early history of autism is rather dark in particularly the way children were often consigned to the care mental institutions.This book uses the life of Donald Triplett lens to understand the developing understanding of autism as opposed to being an abstract work regarding the medical understanding of autism.
I think the most important thing this book draws attention to is a general attitude about those with autism, that they are a problem that needs fixing. There might be some things readers might disagree on in this book but over all I think it gives perspective and insight into autism that is greatly needed. The chapter entitled Neurodiversity is especially helpful particularly the closing sentence which states, “It it this interpretation of autism that has come to be shared by the bitterest foes and the most casual bystanders: that having autism- being autistic- represents but one more wrinkle in the fabric of humanity, and that no one among us is living a life “unwrinkled (533).” The book ends as it began looking at the life of Donald Triplett and he has lived a happy life loved by those in his community, but a the epilogue shows there is progress needed in how our society treats those with autism.
This book is a lengthy read but I hope that others will pick it up and read it in order to foster an understanding of autism beyond what they get from Facebook and other sources.
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher for providing this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html