Top positive review
An Austistic says, "A foundational text, and a very good place to start your reading"
on 20 March 2018
I don’t care that this book was written the best part of 30 years ago, and that much more research has been done since, there’s still *more* sense in this book than a lot of the drivel that has come out recently: especially the drivel regarding poisoning by ‘big pharma’, leaky gut syndrome, and the torture for autistics that is ABA.
Chapter 1 is a brief description of Asperger’s work, Kanner, and others up to the state of medical knowledge when the book was written. P21-3 has the *very* interesting view that autism might just be a ‘personality variant’ because normal people do Aspergery things, just less often.
Chapter 2 is Frith’s then ground-breaking translation of Asperger’s original article, which is of more historical interest now, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how much of an impact it would have had at the time. This is a very long chapter as there is a considerable section at the end from Frith comparing her own studies with Asperger’s. This is deeply technical and really should have been a separate chapter. Frith emphasises how different we all are, that we can change over time, and that we have useful gifts and skills, p67. I am not a fan of Wing’s ‘triad of impairments’ as I have been properly diagnosed by a well-respected clinic, yet I only have one - a special interest - and lots of normal people have that.
Chapter 3 comes from Lorna Wing, looking at Kanner’s Syndrome and comparing it with Asperger’s ‘autistic psychopathy’. While we are used to the idea that autism can now be seen as a spectrum, it was Wing’s work that made this connection, so this is a foundational text. As ever, the comment is made that it is far easier to detect in children and that adults may go undiagnosed.
Chapter 4 gives six detailed examples of people with Asperger’s, and frankly if anyone wants hard-core data to show the genetic basis of the condition, then here it is. The prevalence of Asperger’s, what we would now call Pervasive Personality Disorder, classic autism, depression, etc running in families surely bangs on the head the drivel about inoculations, especially given the overwhelming millions of people who do receive inoculations and don’t get autism. One of the major factors in adults being diagnosed is a child being diagnosed first, then the presentation of symptoms being noted in older family members. This more than adequately explains the rise in diagnoses.
Chapter 5 comes from Digby Tantum, another well-respected expert, about how Asperger’s presents in adulthood. This is another long, deeply technical article, but has a very good description of the percentage of cases displaying particular characteristics: so if you’re worried / concerned / interested about a family member, this is a very good place to start.
Chapter 6 is a brief look at the problems AS people suffer in daily life, especially what we consider acceptable and normal people don’t. It may be too brief to be useful, but does illustrate the way(s) in which we see the world differently, and need normal people to make accommodations.
Chapter 7, while ostensibly about communication problems, shows how good we are at written language. The diagram on p235 shows just how complicated language actually is, between what the person communicating is trying to convey, and the multiple ways the person receiving this can interpret it. The big problem is that when we need language the most, ie when normal people drive us round the bend, is when language fails us most. It’s a bit like yelling “Fire !” in a crowded room and then everyone rushes for the door and gets stuck. This chapter would be good for those around the AS person to help them understand the AS person’s frustrations with normal people not understanding.
Overall, despite its technical nature and age, this is still one of *the* books to read on autism, and is a scientifically sound, evidence-based refutation of the ‘drivel’ view.