The past six months saw the release of two bestselling books about autism: Steve Silberman’s “Neurotribes,” and John Donvan and Caren Zucker’s “In a Different Key.”
Both books chronicle the oftentimes dark history of autism while expressing hope for a better future for people with the condition. They focus on the good work of people — strong-willed parents and devoted advocates — who transformed a once-shameful diagnosis into a widely accepted condition. But they also highlight several missteps by scientists that derailed research and the lives of many people on the spectrum.
This history offers lessons for today’s scientists, ranging from the importance of purging presumptions about autism to the acute need for services that help people, especially adults, with the condition.