The legacy of autism and how to think smarter about people who think differently

Steve Silberman
AUD $35.00
Availability: Out of print

A groundbreaking book that up-ends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015

A New York Times bestseller

'NeuroTribes is a sweeping and penetrating history, presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity... it will change how you think of autism.' - From the foreword by Oliver Sacks

What is autism: a devastating developmental disorder, a lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more - and the future of our society depends on our understanding it.

Following on from his ground breaking article 'The Geek Syndrome', Wired reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for identifying it, and discovers why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.

Going back to the earliest autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path towards a more humane world in which people with learning differences have access to the resources they need to live happier and more meaningful lives.

He reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, whose 'little professors' were targeted by the darkest social-engineering experiment in human history; exposes the covert campaign by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for fifty years; and casts light on the growing movement of 'neurodiversity' activists seeking respect, accommodations in the workplace and education, and the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences.

Author bio:

STEVE SILBERMAN is an award-winning investigative reporter. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, TIME, Nature, Wired and Salon.

Category: Psychology
ISBN: 9781760113629
Awards: Short-listed Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction 2015 GB
Table Of Contents: Foreword by Oliver Sacks

Introduction: Beyond the Geek Syndrome

1. The Wizard of Clapham Common

2. The Boy Who Loves Green Straws

3. What Sister Viktorine Knew

4. Fascinating Peculiarities

5. The Invention of Toxic Parenting

6. Princes of the Air

7. Fighting the Monster

8. Nature's Smudged Lines

9. The Rain Man Effect

10. Pandora's Box

11. In Autistic Space

12. Building The Enterprise: Designs for a Neurodiverse World

Epilogue: The Mayor of Kensington



Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Pub Date: September 2015
Page Extent: 544
Format: Paperback - C format
Age: 0 - 0
Subject: Psychology

Watch the author's 2015 TED Talk on autism

Steve Silberman on The Forgotten History of Autism, filmed for TED2015 in March 2015.

Read an excerpt

Teachers Reviews

Unlike most of the books I review, this is a professional text that delves into the world of the autistic child, going back to the earliest research trying to offer solutions and suggesting ways in which we can give those on the spectrum access to the resources and support they need so like the rest of us, they have the best opportunity to live their best life. Using the stories of those affected and their families Silberman gives greater insight not just into those with the condition but all those who think and learn differently. Even though we have come a long way, there is still a long road ahead

It is quite an intense book, more for the person who wants to understand autism more thoroughly than those just wanting an overview, but Silberman is driven by his belief that all of us, despite our differences, deserve respect, dignity, access to appropriate education and workplace experiences and self-determination. Nevertheless, because schools are now required to make all reasonable adjustments for such children under the Disability Standards for Education legislation (, the more we know about the needs of our autistic children the better. It is not enough for the specialist teacher to know – because the goal is integration wherever possible, we all have to have a better understanding.
Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, NSW

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