Tuesday December 08, 2015

Rethinking autism through the prism of neurodiversity

"Autism is a difference, not a failed version of normal", says Steve Silberman, author of "NeuroTribes."

"Autism is a difference, not a failed version of normal", says Steve Silberman, author of "NeuroTribes."

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Hans Asperger and children at the University of Vienna, 1930s

Hans Asperger and children at the University of Vienna, 1930s. (Courtesy of Dr. Maria Asperger Felder)

Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal', must necessarily be 'inferior.' - Dr. Hans Asperger (1938)

As a longtime journalist with Wired magazine, Steve Silberman was used to spotting trends in California's Silicon Valley... but perhaps none as important as this one:

Twelve years ago he kept noticing that there were clusters of children with autism in Silicon Valley communities where software engineers and I.T. employees lived and that began a decade-long quest to understand the nature and origin of autism.  

"Great minds don't always think alike." - Steve Silberman on neurodiversity and approaching autism differently

Now he's published a book of his findings. It's titled "NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity."  In it, Steve Silberman argues that autism should be viewed not as an epidemic, but as a different way of thinking. He joined Anna Maria from San Francisco. 
 



This segment was produced by The Current's Erin Pettit.
 


Webchat with Margaret Spoelstra from Autism Ontario

After talking to Steve Silberman on looking at new ways to approach autism, we thought this would make for a great live discussion. We hosted a live webchat with Margaret Spoelstra, the Executive Director of Autism Ontario to look at approaching autism different. She's a special education teacher by training, and has spent the past 35 years working with individuals with a variety of special needs, especially autism.