I have a confession to make before I share my thoughts on the book that I just finished reading. I wouldn’t have picked up this book on any given day (except for that day when it all started). I was randomly browsing through a few articles on internet and this article from BBC on Autism and workplace popped up from somewhere. This really got me going to into reading a bit about Autism and about how Neurons behave in order to maintain our so called ‘mental balance’. That was when I decided to pick a book that gives a detailed account of Autism and how others try to peep into their brain.
That was how I ended up picking ‘Neuro Tribes’ by Steve Silberman.
Six days and many tempestuous stories later, here I am trying to share my thoughts on the book and the big question it addresses.
Book #: 11
Title: Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to think smarter about people who think differently by Steve Silberman
Often ignored but the most important credit of this book should go to it’s title. It was brilliantly phrased title giving the reader complete sense of what to come when you flip through that cover- a long but detailed, focused account on how a second person perceives an individual with autistic. Going to back the article from BBC, it tells you how much the world had changed in the way we treat them but to know how we go there, you got to read through these 544 pages.
Even the best of scholars tend to be cautious to describe someone as ‘different’ – but the societies earlier didn’t deal with them so cautiously. They were sent to rehabilitation centers, almost used as guinea-pigs for so called ‘anti-psychotic’ drugs and were made victims of nugatory shock treatments. But, thanks to Mr. Asperger and Mr. Leo Kanner who took that giant leap to put the efforts to not just recognize the problem but to have tried to address them.
Steve Silberman, a journalist himself, did exactly what needs to be done when writing an account as emotional as this. He just focused on the intrinsic emotion that the individuals and families go through leaving out the clichéd drama. The language used was exactly from those research dissertations- straight, sharp, focused and detailed attention.
By the time you reach the closing phases of this book, you would realize how beautiful it is in it’s natural form. No added flavors. Steve made sure that he stuck to the point describing the history of autism and how today’s evolved itself into accepting it with no or minimal inhibitions.
The book talk about how the movie Rain Man was made and about Emergence, quoted as the first book that was ever written by an autistic individual. As you read through the book, you encounter many more references which point to the most recent research on autism.
Someone can defend by saying the world had much bigger problems to deal about back then than trying to understand others- The World Wars and the cholera apocalypse that taught the entire world a huge lesson. But that is where the beauty of evolution lies.
Instead of drafting my own words, I would leave it to Oliver Sacks to share his opinion with us. I totally agree with every word he had written in his short and simple Foreword.
Excerpt from the Foreword:
“NeuroTribes is a sweeping and penetrating history of all this (changing attitudes), presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity. It is fascinating reading; it will change how you think of autism, and it belongs alongside the works of Temple Grandin and Clara Claiborne Park, on the bookshelf of anyone interested in autism and the workings of the human brain”
Yes, Mr. Oliver, I totally agree with you. This is a book that deserves to be read and more importantly to be understood. It totally changes our perspective on not only how we think smartly about autistic people but also every single person you meet.
After all, aren’t we all from that single unified tribe separated by our epidermis but connected through our neurons.