Thursday, October 22, 2015

Neurotribes Made Me Emotional, And That's A Good Thing

I may be autistic, but I'll be the first to say there's a lot I don't know about autism. My recent forays into learning about autism and the wider autism community have shown me that there's a ton of things that explain a lot about myself (my quirky habits, my abhorrence of change, my ability to get emotionally overwhelmed) and how much I have yet to know about autism as a whole. The more I explore on the Internet, in books, and in relating to other autistic people, the more I get invested in the subject.

So when a friend told me she attended a TED Talk conference where one of the speakers talked about autism, I was beyond intrigued. For months I waited impatiently for the talk to make its way online and when it was finally uploaded, I found something incredibly unique - someone who looked into how autism was "discovered" and how it came to be perceived.

Watching this got me intrigued. There's plenty of accounts and blogs detailing about what it's like to be autistic,  what it's like to parent an autistic kid, and the many scientific studies into what autism actually is, but not really much of a history of autism. I probably mentioned here before how I'm a history aficionado so of course this quickly became a favorite video. And when I found out this presenter, science reporter Steve Silberman, was coming out with a book on autism's history, I pre-ordered it as fast as I could. In a world where autism is discussed in either cold clinical terms or overwhelming emotional rhetoric, this posed an alternative view I desperately wanted to see - an objective look at autism by examining its historical roots.