This book draws the audience in with the positive movement of neurodiversity. But the book is a whitewashing of autism, looking at all of the positive aspects, and none of the negative ones. There are no mentions of the meltdowns, self-injurious behaviors, like head banging, or higher risk of suicide or shorter life span. Steve is not a member of the “tribe” and doesn’t have a child on the spectrum. One wonders why he wrote this book.
The true intent of this book seems to be to lower the credibility of people who seek to discover or treat underlying biological issues, or examine environmental factors in autism. There is a subtle product placement for the drug Risperdal. No other drugs are mentioned, which leads one to wonder if he has an exclusive marketing deal with the pharmaceutical company that makes it. He praises neurodiversity as positive because it brings in more diverse ways of thinking and being, but he doesn’t seem to like a diverse range of ways to treat and manage autism.
The author mentions that he first believed there was an epidemic of autism, but now believes that that is a myth. He asserts that the rise in reported cases is due to an widening of the diagnostic criticia. If this was the case, the rate of autism would have risen and then leveled off and that is not what has happened. Unfortunately, the beautiful cover and the premier publisher and marketing make this argument appear to have some merit and credibility, when it is actually considered fringe by researchers in the field.
Here is the basic premise of the book: “Whatever autism is, it is not a unique product of modern civilization.”
Lots of details and stories, but I’m not seeing a solid case presented for that argument.
He argues that we should not spend millions on genetic research or look for environmental factors in autism. This book seems to be a drug company’s marketing strategy written as a persuasive narrative and trying to ride along on the neurodiversity movement.
If you want to support neurodiversity, buy a book that is written by someone on the spectrum, not from someone who writes like he is funded by a drug company.