Steve Silberman · 477 pages
Rating: (5.6K votes)
“By autistic standards, the “normal” brain is easily distractible, is obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail and routine. Thus people on the spectrum experience the neurotypical world as relentlessly unpredictable and chaotic, perpetually turned up too loud, and full of people who have little respect for personal space.”
“Our therapeutic goal must be to teach the person how to bear their difficulties. Not to eliminate them for him, but to train the person to cope with special challenges with special strategies; to make the person aware not that they are ill, but that they are responsible for their lives.”
“Aware adults with autism and their parents are often angry about autism. They may ask why nature or God created such horrible conditions as autism, manic depression, and schizophrenia. However, if the genes that caused these conditions were eliminated there might be a terrible price to pay. It is possible that persons with bits of these traits are more creative, or possibly even geniuses. If science eliminated these genes, maybe the whole world would be taken over by accountants.”
“Researchers would eventually discover that autistic people stim to reduce anxiety—and also simply because it feels good. In fact, harmless forms of self-stimulation (like flapping and fidgeting) may facilitate learning by freeing up executive-functioning resources in the brain that would otherwise be devoted to suppressing them.”
“One of the most promising developments since the publication of “The Geek Syndrome” has been the emergence of the concept of neurodiversity: the notion that conditions like autism, dyslexia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be regarded as naturally occurring cognitive variations with distinctive strengths that have contributed to the evolution of technology and culture rather than mere checklists of deficits and dysfunctions.”
“When I think back upon the kids that I tried to treat back in the 1960s, who were so extremely self-injurious, I think, “Boy, they were tough!” What they were really saying is, “You haven’t taught me right, you haven’t given me the tools whereby I can communicate and control my environment.” So the aggression that these kids show, whether it is directed toward themselves or others, is an expression of society’s ignorance, and in that sense I think of them as noble demonstrators. I have a great deal of respect for them.”
“During World War II, the British spy agency MI8 secretly recruited a crew of teenage wireless operators (prohibited from discussing their activities even with their families) to intercept coded messages from the Nazis. By forwarding these transmissions to the crack team of code breakers at Bletchley Park led by the computer pioneer Alan Turing, these young hams enabled the Allies to accurately predict the movements of the German and Italian forces. Asperger’s prediction that the little professors in his clinic could one day aid in the war effort had been prescient, but it was the Allies who reaped the benefits.”
“A speech-language pathologist named Michelle Garcia Winner told me that many parents in her practice became aware of their own autistic traits only in the wake of their child’s diagnosis.”
“In 1997, cognitive psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen found that the fathers and grandfathers of children with autism were more likely to be engineers.”
“By midweek, they persuaded the captain to give them a tour of the engine room.”
“Not all the features of atypical human operating systems are bugs.”
“Asperger survived the war, but his concept of autism as a broad and inclusive spectrum (a “continuum,” his diagnostician Georg Frankl called it) that was “not at all rare” was buried with the ashes of his clinic and the unspeakable memories of that dark time, along with his case records. A very different conception of autism took its place.”
“In his classic textbook Science and Human Behavior, Skinner explained that while aversives may seem to promptly extinguish undesirable behavior, the behavior often returns with a vengeance after the punishment ceases, because the subject has not been taught more adaptive ways to behave. He also pointed out that punishment creates fear, guilt, and shame, resulting in less learning overall. (In other words, a child compelled to practice the piano with threats of spanking does not tend to become a virtuoso but instead learns to hate music.) Skinner also cautioned that the use of aversives has negative effects on the researcher, potentially turning the experimental situation into a sadistic power play. “In the long run,” he observed, “punishment, unlike reinforcement, works to the disadvantage of both the punished organism and the punishing agency.” But”
“The parents in these groups were often caricatured as poorly informed, anti-science “denialists,” but they were generally better acquainted with the state of autism research than the outsiders presuming to judge them. They obsessively tracked the latest developments in the field on electronic mailing lists and websites. They virtually transformed their homes into labs, keeping meticulous records of their children’s responses to the most promising alternative treatments. They believed that the fate of their children’s health was too important to the alleged experts who had betrayed and misled families like theirs for decades. Motivated by the determination to relieve their children’s suffering, they became amateur researchers themselves, like the solitary man who calculated the density of the earth in his backyard with the help of his global network of correspondents.”
“After [Paul] Schilder mentioned that he had treated a schizophrenic teenager with psychoanalysis because the “sex center” and “fear center” of the brain are adjacent, he could no longer contain himself. [Leo] Kanner pointedly asked if people call their spouses “honey” because the sex center and the sugar center of the brain are also close together.”
“While the psychiatric establishment was debating theories of toxic parenting and childhood psychosis, however, Asperger’s lost tribe was putting its autistic intelligence to work by building the foundations of a society better suited to its needs and interests. Like Henry Cavendish, they refused to accept their circumstances as given. By coming up with ways of socializing on their own terms, they sketched out a blueprint for the modern networked world.”
“It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential. For success, the necessary ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical, an ability to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways. This”
“Asperger was speaking out with the “force of his whole personality” for the sake of children all over Europe who had not yet been murdered by a monstrous idea of human perfectibility—an idea that his supervisors, who were fervent Nazis, had imported from America. V”
“Finally, at age seventy, Goodman was able to get the diagnosis and access to services he needed. Joining a support group for adults run by the Asperger’s Association of New England, he says, was “like coming ashore after a life of bobbing up and down in a sea that seemed to stretch to infinity in all directions.”
“Instead of seeing the children in his care as flawed, broken, or sick, he believed they were suffering from neglect by a culture that had failed to provide them with teaching methods suited to their individual styles of learning.”
“They argued that food and medical care are not everyone’s birthright but are properly earned by doing productive labor. They described disabled people as Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”), calling them “useless eaters” and “human ballast” who consume precious resources without repaying their debt to society. Ending the lives of these “empty human husks”—who were not even aware of the misery that they inflicted on others—was not only a socially beneficial act, Hoche and Binder claimed, it was the most compassionate thing that could be done under the circumstances.”
“By sharing the stories of their lives, they discovered that many of the challenges they face daily are not “symptoms” of their autism, but hardships imposed by a society that refuses to make basic accommodations for people with cognitive disabilities as it does for people with physical disabilities such as blindness and deafness.”
“It is not now raining.” Inspired by his extreme verbal parsimony, his fellow students at St. John’s invented a unit of measurement for the number of words that a person might utter in conversation, christening the minimum rate one “Dirac”—one word per hour.”
“Oliver Sacks’s An Anthropologist on Mars,”
“As Gernsback became wealthy, he cultivated the air of a bon vivant, packaging himself as adroitly as he packaged his crystal sets by dressing in bespoke suits and silk ties. But he inevitably struck people as odd, rude, self-centered, and even callous. On train trips to Chicago to pick up parts for his company, he would stop off in Cleveland to visit his seven-year-old cousin, Hildegarde. The entrepreneur would terrify the girl by launching into windy soliloquies about a society in which domed cities in orbit, robot doctors, and retirement colonies on Mars were commonplace. (Meanwhile, horse-drawn carts were still plying the streets outside.) If a ringing telephone interrupted him in midreverie, he would raise an admonishing finger and say to his cousin in his bristling Germanic accent, “Hildegarde, fix your hair. It won’t be long before the caller can see your face over the wires.”
“Kanner named their condition autism—from the Greek word for self, autos—because they seemed happiest in isolation.”
“Asperger affectionately dubbed them his “little professors.” He also called their condition autism, though it’s still a matter of dispute if what he saw in his clinic was the same syndrome that Kanner described.”
“It's just much easier with dogs. You don't get laid; but you also don't get the feeling you're hurting their feelings all the time.”
“..".ne možeš učiniti ništa značajno u svijetu ukoliko trošiš vrijeme na
kritiziranje drugih zato što ne izgledaju ili se ne ponašaju onako kako ti misliš da bi trebali.”
“In any case, fire burns; that's its nature, and you can't expect to change that. You can use it to cook your meat or to burn down your neighbor's house. And is the fire you use for cooking any different from the one you use for burning? And does that mean you should eat your supper raw?"
Maddy shook her head, still puzzled. "So what you're saying is . . . I shouldn't play with fire," she said at last.
Of course you should," said One-Eye gently. "But don't be surprised if the fire plays back.”
“I have to believe much in God because I have lost my faith in man.”
“and hot raw wood. There was a guy behind a counter, in worn blue overalls stained black with dirt. He was”
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