In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

John Donvan and Caren Zucker. Crown, $30 (672p) ISBN 978-0-307-98567-5
Journalists Donvan and Zucker’s tremendous study keeps autism at its center while telling an extraordinary tale of social change. The authors follow evolving cultural responses to autism and autism spectrum disorders, including intolerance, a desperate quest for successful treatments, and the currently high level of awareness—which doesn’t always prevent misunderstanding. The only shaky aspects of this swooping narrative are Donvan and Zucker’s questionable, if not anachronistic, attempts to diagnose historical figures. Their work’s strength is a careful delineation of autism’s contemporary ramifications, including the sometimes disputed statistics and the vaccine scare that first made headlines in the late 1990s. The authors give thoughtful consideration to the array of treatments for autism that have been explored; the 1960s, for example, saw a now-shocking trend of LSD treatments. Viewed as a whole, the narrative ultimately reveals a transition from an emphasis on treating individual cases to a more society-wide effort for advocacy and inclusion—an effort that this book will do much to advance. Agent: Alia Hanna Habib, McCormick Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/09/2015
Release date: 01/19/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-39741-3
Paperback - 688 pages - 978-0-307-98570-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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