Neurotribes by Steve Silberman

Neurotribes is a truly astounding book that deserves its Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

I read Neurotribes while I was researching the possibility of being autistic at 27 (turns out I am) and it really helped me understand the legacy of autistic people. Rarely does work on autism focus so much on who autistic people are and all that they have accomplished.


One thing that stood out so much to me was the enormous scientific contribution to society made by autistic people, weighed against the sheer volume of bad science that has led to complete misunderstandings of the diagnosis and a focus on cures rather than provisions. Somewhat ironic.

There are some extremely upsetting sections in the middle of the book around the rise of the Nazis and the treatment of disabled people, through to the institutionalisation of autistic people as a general practice.

Neurotribes spans the history of autism, through Asperger’s and Kanner’s work with autistic people, through to online support networks created by autistic people, gleefully mentioning the wonderful work of Oliver Sacks, Lorna Wing, and the representation of autistic people in the media, thanks to the film Rain Man and the works of Temple Grandin.

I wholeheartedly recommend this, especially if you know autistic people. Suitable for older teenagers and adults.

Interested? Get it here.

Want to know what else I’ve read about autism or features autistic characters? Check out The Essential Autie Book List.

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