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The Forgotten History of Autism

Steve Silberman is a writer and contributing editor for Wired and other US national magazines. In 2001, he published “The Geek Syndrome,” one of the first articles in the mainstream press to probe the complex relationship between autism and genius. The article was praised by experts in the field like neurologist Oliver Sacks and author Temple Grandin, but as time went on, Silberman was haunted by the biggest question that he had left unanswered: Why have rates of autism diagnosis increased so steeply in the past 30 years?

This question has become particularly pressing in the face of a resurgence of measles, mumps, pertussis and other childhood diseases worldwide due to parental fears of vaccines, despite numerous studies debunking their alleged connection to autism. To solve that medical mystery for his new book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, published in August 2015, Silberman went back to the first years of autism research, where he uncovered a series of events — some long forgotten, and others deliberately buried — that will require the history of autism to be rewritten.

Silberman outlines the forgotten (and covered up) history of Autism in this acclaimed TED Talk from 2015. In the process, he debunks some of the most widespread and persistent myths — and deliberate lies — about the neurological condition.

More from Steve Silberman

Autistic people are not failed versions of “normal.” They’re different, not less.

The Geek Syndrome — Wired 2001

©2019 John Counsel. All rights reserved.


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