"NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity," by Steve Silberman
Before I was a mom and dabbling writer, I was in graduate school for teaching. My degree is in Early Childhood Special Education. One of the most impactful experiences was working in Project DATA at the University of Washington's Experimental Education Unit (EEU). DATA stands for Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism and it is a class for students in the EEU's preschool program with an autism diagnosis. I did one-on-one Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy and charted the children's progress. The skills I learned while working in DATA have influenced the way I have parented and taught my children--particularly the way to scaffold teaching a set of skills. A method designed for a particular population of neurodiverse individuals has come in handy in my life for a separate set of neurotypical individuals (in this case, my children whom I homeschool).
This is a main thesis of Steve Silberman's brilliant book, "NeuroTribes." The concept that diversity of people is what makes our world beautiful. The breadth in which he covers his subject matter is admirable, as this is a many-sided issue. The history of autism has an ugliness that he addresses with grace. Autism was once blamed on the “refrigerator mother,” that is, a parent that lacks warmth. This mindset painted how autism was treated. It took doctors and nurses who understood the truths about autism and approached various treatments with care and gentleness to turn the tide.
It’s been a couple years since I read this book, but it’s worth another read. I’d also recommend this book for discussion. If several people read it, they will each take away something different.
The world is full of such diversity. We are not, thankfully, cookie cutter copies of one another. We are of different colors, different political opinions, and different minds. The different parts are what make us beautiful. Imagine if a sunset were just one color. It’d be boring, plain. The beauty comes with the colors blend and change over time.