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This is one of the best autobiographies in re the autism/Asperger's (a/A) spectrum I have ever read. Schneider, who is plainly a gifted man shatters the myth that people with autism are unable to think abstractly. A scholar in the humanities and in his own condition, Schneider draws upon a myriad of resources to support his findings. His background in mathematics and extensive knowledge and research of matters scientific is on a scholarly plane.
Still, Schneider is very inclusive in his writings. He compliments his readers' intelligence by sharing his knowledge; at no time does he deviate from plain speech.
Schneider discusses the paradoxical aspects of autism. One tired myth is that people with autism lack emotion. That is just not true. Autism is a sensori-neurobiological condition that affects sensory processing and communication to varying degrees. It is a chiefly sensory condition and for many people on the spectrum, emotions can be frightening and overwhelming. Many people compensate by displaying a "poker face" rather than give rise to the intensity of their own emotions and responses to stimuli. That is very common among the a/A population.
Show me a person on the a/A spectrum who doesn't hate surprises and having to cope with having things sprung on them and I'll show you a bulldog that flies. For many people with autism, surprises can be very threatening and not knowing what the desired response to same is can make for some tricky social navigation.
However, not all autistics have a limited display of emotion, just as not all autistics think in pictures. Broad generalizations can be very misleading, but I don't get the sense of that with this book.
Autism IS a continuum - its spectrum partner, Asperger's Syndrome is also considered by some to be a form of high functioning autism (HFA). Whether or not Asperger's is HFA, the fact remains that Asperger's IS a form of autism and for any individual on the a/A spectrum, there will be overlapping behaviors and sensory reactions.
Schneider probes into the neurotypical (NT) world with brilliance and logic. He is also very funny and many of his trenchant observations are quite witty. While some may find his risque humor offensive, it can be interpreted as being all in fun and not meant to be taken seriously.
This is a book for everyone, especially people on the a/A spectrum. Many people with Asperger's, will feel a bond with Schneider. He is the voice of reason and explanation; he is the professor with the a/A curriculum. This book is moving; funny; serious; intense; gritty; strong and brilliant. Parts of it might even make you cry. Many parts are uproariously funny. It is a book that will be loved, treasured and savored. Readers will find themselves thinking about this book and author long after they have turned the last page.
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on 7 March 2000
This book is great for anyone who has anything to do with people who have HFA (high-functioning autism) or who has it themself; in my case that's most of the family... It should be required reading for wives, families, teachers and carers for children and adults with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome and also for doctors, counsellors, psychologists.... The old "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" scenario is differently interpreted here and Edgar uses his own experiences to illustrate his points that 1) HFA people can have relationships but it is more difficult for them than for most, and they do need understanding partners 2) HFA has been (and probably still is)too often diagnosed as schizophrenia. It is also a book that is fun and entertaining to read and, in parts, made me cry.
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on 9 February 1999
I would recommend it to anyone looking for an inside view written from a fresh perspective. Not only does Ed give an inside view but I learned many, many helpful things besides. If you liked Temple Grandin's books you will love this one!
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