In a Different Key - Interview with John Donvan and Caren Zucker

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alex
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20 Jul 2016, 4:56 pm


In Autism Talk TV Ep. 26, I speak with authors John Donvan and Caren Zucker about their bestselling book on the history of autism, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism.  In addition to being authors, Donvan and Zucker have worked for ABC News, where Donvan is an Emmy award winning correspondent and Zucker is a Peabody award winning producer.

We discuss the inspirational parts of their book as well as the troubling periods of autism history and the shocking discoveries they made about Hans Asperger. We also talk about LSD experiments involving autistics.  Their book is extensive and covers the ...



alex
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ASPartOfMe
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21 Jul 2016, 4:23 pm

I read "In A Different Key" this year and "Neurotribes" last year and am much more educated about autism and many of the people involved because of it. I am happy to hear from the interview they are going to be working on adult autism.

What do you think about using the words Aspergers and Aspie after the revelations in the book? I still use it out of habit and because they are the the main words used to describe that part of the spectrum here but it definitly does not have the very positive feel for that and other reasons.

We did a thread about the controversies about the book including the Hans Asperger revelations when it was first released.
Doubts About The Book "In A Different Key"?

Below is a reprint of a review and of the book I made in that thread back in March. It emphasizes the books take on the issues discussed often on WP.

I have finally finished the book. It was for then most part the story of parents of Autistics organizing for good and bad. As has been mentioned if you are sympathetic to the Neurodiversity movement and dislike ABA there are many parts of the book that you will strongly dislike. In talking about Lovaas 1960's work the authors several times found the need to tell us dispite the criticism the inconvenient truth was that it worked. To the authors credit they note how Autism Speaks became a became a behemoth by riding the anti vax wave. Then it gets a bit bizarre as they seem to think the Wright family disagreements over vaccinations tore the organization apart and weakened it. Unless I am missing something they are still the Autism Policy agenda setters in America. They note that in 2015 Autism Speaks "quietly" released a statement saying vaccines do not cause autism. They did not mention this statement came in the immediate aftermath of the Disneyland measles outbreak. Of interest to WP members there only a few paragraphs to the self diagnosis issue. By mentioning the infamous 2012 New York Magazine "Is Everybody on the Spectrum?" article it showed how they feel. There was plenty of words about the lack adult services and research so not connecting the dots is a failure. The authors take too much liberty describing the motives of people.

That bieng said I still recommend reading it. Most of the criticism is about thier point of view. Their research has not been questioned. The positive is that you will learn stuff. The book discloses many things not in Neurotribes while greatly expanding upon other topics that are in Neurotribes. There is a very positive portrayal of Alex Plank and the founding of Wrong Planet. The book is a unintentional primer on networking something many autistics could use help with.

Now we have two exhaustive histories of Autism written from different points of view. Each chapter of these books could be a topic of a book by themselves. As for the topics of the Autism rights and the neurodiversity movement we can not expect or depend on the NT's like Steve Silberman to come along very often. Just as autistics have written books that have helped autistics and open minded NT's get an understanding of what is like to be autistic it is Autistics that will have to write about the history and Autism Rights and ND movements.


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21 Jul 2016, 5:58 pm

While my opinions about In a Different Key: The Story of Autism and NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity remain within the previous topic about the matter of public reaction after both books’ publications, reiterating my opinion is less important than how well each book has been accepted in the larger reading community. Both books were reviewed favorably by The New York Times. But, current sales rankings by Amazon.com suggest that, while NeuroTribes continues to sell well, In a Different Key lags.

Amazon.com ranks NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (August 25, 2015) as:
--#7,612 in Books
--#2 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Psychology & Counseling > History
--#2 in Books > Medical Books > Psychology > History
--#4 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Specific Demographics > Disabled

Amazon.com ranks In a Different Key: The Story of Autism (January 19, 2016) as:
--#37,000 in Books
--#20 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Psychology & Counseling > History
--#16 in Books > Medical Books > Psychology > History
--#12 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Specific Demographics > Disabled

It would seem that overall public opinion about each book shows that one is favored over the other. Of course, there are some stated reasons from readers within each Amazon review why the books’ reception might have differed. They do give us an idea of what buyers and readers of such books wanted in their historical survey of autism.

Against that background, my opinion, or that of others, is probably irrelevant.


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21 Jul 2016, 9:11 pm

A very useful book, worth looking forward to read



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21 Jul 2016, 10:33 pm

Neurotribes was a real eye opener, I'll try to get a copy of this book as soon as I can.


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Sonia
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22 Jul 2016, 3:56 pm

I enjoyed listening to them at the National Autism Society Conference during their Keynote presentation speech. I also started reading the book, and I find it very interesting so far. :D



alex
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22 Jul 2016, 3:58 pm

Sonia wrote:
I enjoyed listening to them at the National Autism Society Conference during their Keynote presentation speech. I also started reading the book, and I find it very interesting so far. :D


Did you have a chance to check out the panel I was on at the conference on Saturday?


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22 Jul 2016, 6:38 pm

Thank You so much for posting this! I am looking forward to reading the book! :D



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03 Aug 2016, 3:21 pm

As I haven't read 'A Different Key', I'm not in a position to comment about the 'compelling evidence' the authors claim to have about Hans Asperger's alleged collaboration with the Nazi eugenics programme. It does seem odd that this hasn't been discovered earlier, given the exhaustive research done into that period of history, particularly the cases where innocent lives were saved in the face of oppression.

However, it does sound rather like sensationalism, particularly coming from Americans, whose country has never experienced any form of tyranny or totalitarianism, and who have little idea of what it was like to be a citizen in the Third Reich (or the Soviet Union), where every aspect of people's lives were controlled by the State, and you could be summarily executed for the slightest misdemeanour, or indeed for no reason at all. If Asperger did do what the authors suggest he did, then he may have been put in the impossible position of being asked to trade one child's life in exchange for many others. Such agonising decisions are everyday occurrences in a police state, where virtually everyone ends up compromising their principles. In Europe we understand this, having seen it at first hand; thus we would be far less inclined to condemn someone who has found themselves in such a situation.

'Neurotribes', on the other hand, is a measured and erudite account of the history of autism, and has no need of marketing gimmicks.


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