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About the book
  • Published: 1 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781846145667
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 672
  • RRP: $49.99

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism


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By turns intimate and panoramic, In a Different Key takes us on a journey from an era when families were shamed and children were condemned to institutions, to one in which parents and people with autism push not simply for inclusion, but for a new understanding of autism: as difference rather than disability.

Donald Triplett was born eighty-two years ago in Forest, Mississippi, and would become the first child ever to be diagnosed with autism - after years of patient determination by his parents, and the work of one extraordinary clinician who solved the puzzle of his mysterious condition.

In this profoundly humane and beautifully rendered history, John Donvan and Caren Zucker tell the whole story of autism - from the small Mississippi town where Donald still lives today to the classrooms, laboratories, and courts where essential questions concerning autism have been battled over. The history of autism is, above all, the story of families fighting for a place in the world for their children: women like Ruth Sullivan, who rebelled against a medical establishment that blamed mothers for causing autism, fathers who pushed scientists to dig harder for treatments, and parents who forced schools to accept their children. But many others played starring roles too: doctors like Leo Kanner, who pioneered our understanding of autism, and those with autism, like Temple Grandin and Ari Ne'eman, who explained their inner worlds and championed a philosophy of 'neurodiversity'.

At the same time, this is also a history of competing theories. This book delves into some of the most contentious debates that have divided the autism community, among them the question of whether vaccines cause autism; which therapies are backed by science and which by wishful thinking; how we measure the prevalence of autism - today said to be 1 in 68 - and whether it is overstated; and whether autism should be 'cured' or accommodated.

By turns intimate and panoramic, In a Different Key takes us on a journey from an era when families were shamed and children were condemned to institutions, to one in which parents and people with autism push not simply for inclusion, but for a new understanding of autism: as difference rather than disability.

  • Pub date: 1 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781846145667
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 672
  • RRP: $49.99

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