The man who wants us to embrace autism

Fifteen years ago, Steve Silberman was working as a journalist for Wired magazine in San Francisco, as the digital revolution was really taking off. He was sitting in a cafe, telling a friend how he’d recently met two Silicon Valley power couples, each with a profoundly autistic child, when a teacher at the next table overheard and butted in: “There’s an epidemic of autism in Silicon Valley. Something terrible is happening to our children.” Silberman’s story on the topic, The Geek Syndrome, was published by Wired in 2001. Back then, it was not uncommon to hear autism spoken about in this way. But understanding and acceptance have since progressed in leaps and bounds. Silberman’s new book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently, tells the story of how this transformation happened – the research, the parents and therapists, and above all, the information networks that allowed everybody interested to share what they were finding out.

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