“At one time – and it was only a generation or so ago…autism was shrouded in shame, secrecy and ignorance…Indeed, the diagnosis itself does not go back far, dating only to World War II. Then, once the label existed, children who were given it – and their families – were met with ignorance and bigotry. They were barred from public schools and banished to institutions, where they remained through their adult years, often until death. Their parents, and in particular their mothers, were routinely blamed for causing their autism. So little research on autism had been done that no counterargument existed. Most people did not even know of the condition, and the word ‘autism’ prompted almost no recognition from the general public…This book tells the story of how and why cultural attitudes toward autism shifted so profoundly, from an era when autism was isolating and almost wholly misunderstood to today, when stars flock to a Broadway theater to talk about and raise millions for the cause.”
- John Donovan & Caren Zucker
As a teacher, I have seen autism in multiple forms, but I never felt that I knew the whole story. While many label children as autistic in an attempt to provide them the support and services they need, it is difficult to fully understand autism as each case has its own unique aspects. That is where In a Different Key: The Story of Autism comes in. This book beautifully (and at times) aggressively details the history of autism, how it has evolved within society, and highlights some of the hopeful aspects of living with (and supporting) autism in the modern age.
By focusing on the power (and beauty) of the mind and what makes it distinct within the autistic brain, In a Different Key shows the power of autism in a compelling way. The writing is lovely, and the stories are thoroughly satisfying. This book has been a long time coming, and is the perfect read for teachers, counselors, parents, and friends of children with autism. Spanning the years since World War II and using specific cases, scientific theory, and optimism when speaking of the future, this book is enlightening and filled with hope.