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In a Different Key: The Story of Autism - John Donvan, Caren Zucker

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this mammoth of a book, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is an amazingly detailed and thorough history of autism and the autism spectrum.

While this is a book of nonfiction, the authors include many stories of real people on the autism spectrum and their families, making it very readable and personal.

The authors use the language of the times in a respectful way, using quotes when discussing diagnoses of "mental retardation" and employing person first writing when appropriate. Since this is a history of autism, some words that are considered offensive today are unavoidable, but the authors use them in an appropriate way that is non-offensive.

I really enjoyed this book and finding out more about the history of autism. Starting with the first diagnosed case and running through various events such as the use of ABA therapy, the acceptance of autism as a spectrum, the vaccine scare, and the move toward neurodiversity, the book details many perspectives and the way our thinking of autism has changed over many years.

Much of the book focuses on parents, family members, and professionals in the autism community, but the last section of the book discusses the more recent advocacy of people on the spectrum themselves, including Ari Ne'eman and the philosophy of neurodiversity.

I really enjoyed this book and think the authors did an amazing job tackling a subject with such a complex history. At times shocking and horrifying, other times hopeful and heartwarming, the story of autism is an important one to follow as we work our way toward a more accepting society.