Re-Thinking Autism is a collection of essays that are questioning the way we look at and way we label autism.
The basic premise is to consider the possibility that autism isn’t actually a disorder. That the reason a definitive genetic marker can’t be found is because it isn’t biological at all. The book offers the theory that autism is quite literally just a different way of processing things and being.
Although, I assume they mean the mental traits of it and not those with severe physical disabilities as well. Other conditions tend to co-occur with autism. So, I assume this theory is attributing those physical disabilities to the other conditions (which is indeed often the case – as it is with my daughters condition, Dandy Walker Syndrome).
The basic issue most of the authors seem to have is that the diagnosis of autism is thrown around a lot and then that label is forced into defining the child and many see them and treat them as damaged and less worthy than others. Other medical issues tend to be ignored and getting them to find a cause can be a pain because everything is written off as being a part of the autism. It becomes an umbrella term and other dangerous issues can be overlooked because of it (my own daughter went through this when a life long zinc absorption issue was overlooked until she was over a year old because the symptoms were written off as being dandy Walker related – this may have caused further developmental delays that she may or may not ever outgrow).
Some may even try to take away a child’s personality by writing off basic preferences as autistic symptoms. Further more even alternative communication styles may be ignored and not believed because the doctors may refuse to believe that the child can understand well enough to communicate (again an issue we dealt with with my daughter – doctors out right ignored my insistence that she was anxious because they couldn’t understand herform of communication and didn’t believe she was aware enough to communicate. They continued to treat her like a newborn when she was 15 months old at the time with the awareness of any 15 month old but she just didn’t communicate like most toddlers do. This led to an extremely traumatic event as well so it’s a dangerous misconception for sure).
The series of essays, which I have intentionally not told specifics of each essay because it would make the review to long, wants autism to no longer be seen in the negative light is is and instead looked at as just a difference like any other difference. They believe this alone would change the nature of existence for autistic people. After all a large part of the problem isn’t the autism, it’s the way other people perceive the autism and the way other people want the autistic person to be. Some understanding and perspective instead of fear and pity, would go a long way.
Even if you don’t agree with the controversial theory presented in this book it is still worth a read. You can believe fully that autism is genetic and biological and still learn a lot from these essays.
Re-Thinking Autism is released May 5th and can be purchased anywhere at that time.
*i received this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review*