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#346 – NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Steve Silberman

This week, journalist Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, sets the record straight about the recent “explosion” of autism diagnoses. Here’s what we talked about:

5:24 How a boat full of computer geeks sparked Steve’s interest in autism, and how he found discovered there was a much bigger story than he had originally thought.

17:42 The biggest urban legend about autism.

20:36 The man who studied children with autistic traits before it even had a name, and the major world event that completely changed the timeline of autism.

25:23 Efforts to improve the human race affects potentially autistic children and adults and led to one of the darkest chapters in our history.

29:59 Some of Hans Asperger’s insightful findings about the patients he was studying, and why there is a common misconception that they were all “high-functioning.”

35:10 The “discovery” of autism in America by Leo Kanner and why it was so very different from Hans Asperger’s findings.

41:57 How the definition of autism may have created an “epidemic” of childhood schizophrenia in the 50s and 60s that foreshadowed the autism epidemic of today.

44:15 Toxic parenting and “refrigerator mothers” take on the blame and shame for autism for years while some fame-hungry doctors promise to find a cure for their kids.

51:19 How two loving parents of an autistic child led to a new movement and new support for the parents of autistic kids.

1:01:15 Why it was so hard to get a diagnosis, and why a recent increase in diagnosis numbers is actually a good thing.

1:09:31 The study responsible for the vaccine/autism connection and why it was eventually debunked as “fraud.”

1:16:55 The little mistake that made a huge difference in the number of children being diagnosed and other contributing factors to the perfect storm for the spike in autism.

1:26:34 Influential autistic adults that are leading the way to a different way of thinking about people with disabilities of all kinds.

Click the PLAY button above to listen to the entire episode.

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