Read Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism by PaulCollins Online


When Paul Collins's son Morgan was two years old, he could read, spell, and perform multiplication tables in his head...but not answer to his own name. A casual conversation-or any social interaction that the rest of us take for granted-will, for Morgan, always be a cryptogram that must be painstakingly decoded. He lives in a world of his own: an autistic world.In Not EvenWhen Paul Collins's son Morgan was two years old, he could read, spell, and perform multiplication tables in his head...but not answer to his own name. A casual conversation-or any social interaction that the rest of us take for granted-will, for Morgan, always be a cryptogram that must be painstakingly decoded. He lives in a world of his own: an autistic world.In Not Even Wrong, Paul Collins melds a memoir of his son's autism with a journey into this realm of permanent outsiders. Examining forgotten geniuses and obscure medical archives, Collins's travels take him from an English churchyard to the Seattle labs of Microsoft, and from a Wisconsin prison cell block to the streets of Vienna. It is a story that reaches from a lonely clearing in the Black Forest into the London palace of King George I, from Defoe and Swift to the discovery of evolution; from the modern dawn of the computer revolution to, in the end, the author's own household. Not Even Wrong is a haunting journey into the borderlands of neurology - a meditation on what "normal" is, and how human genius comes to us in strange and wondrous forms. ...

Title : Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781582343679
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism Reviews

  • Krom
    2019-03-11 07:43

    Ironically, this book provides for Autism what Autists themselves usually do not have - context. And by using historical explorations along with anecdotes relating to the author's own experience, I finally felt as if, for the first time, I was getting my head around this topic in a way that made sense. I read this book almost a year after my daughter's diagnosis. For me, Autism has been one of the most bewildering things to try to learn about; each Autist is unique and the cause of the condition is still shrouded in mystery. As the saying goes, "If you know one child with Autism, you know one child with Autism." There are more precise and clinical treaties on this topic. But for those just beginning the journey of gaining a broader understanding I can't think of a better book to start with.

  • Brett
    2019-03-19 09:22

    It is going to be hard for me to provide a truly objective review of this book. The situations that Collins describes as he and his wife learn about autism and their autistic son are so familiar to me that it was almost (though not quite) like reading my own story. Things that others may find shocking or hard to understand seem like "just the way it is" to me. (I had a similar problem with Temple Grandin's "Thinking in Pictures": people I recommended it to found it unnerving and didn't understand it, when I "got it" right away and couldn't understand why they didn't.)If you want to read a story that shows parents loving their child unconditionally, not trying to fix him and yet trying to make sure he finds his place in this world, this is an excellent place to start.

  • Astraea
    2019-03-07 04:21

    This is a copy of my review from Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism was written by historian Paul Collins, the author of Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books. His son Morgan bounces around exuberantly playing verbal games with numbers and letters, banging on the piano, reading everything in sight, and interacting with his nanny and parents in his own way.Morgan is certainly not a "stranger in the strange land of human emotions" as the official review claims (once again, the autistic as weird alien stereotype). He's happy. He has a great time. He's as enthusiastic as Mandy West in Paul West's old classic Words for a Deaf Daughter and Gala: A Fictional Sequel and just as oblivious to the fact that according to autism experts, he's actually living in a world of his own and that there must be a real child in there struggling to get out, etc., etc. He is the real child. That's him.And his parents! They think he's simply a bright kid with many interests. Who the hell cares if he doesn't answer when you ask his name or play along with dumb "look at the funny monkey" games when there's a much more interesting talking computerized camera in the same room?In short, the parents don't see anything wrong with the kid, because there isn't anything wrong with the kid. He isn't living in a world of his own. He's just more interested in music, math, reading, and audio equipment than people. A phalanx of experts try to convince Collins that Morgan's in need of vast amounts of therapy to bring him up to "normal", but Collins sensibly doesn't buy it even after he is made to understand that two-year-olds generally have more interest in the above social interactions.Like Paul West citing stories of famous deaf people, Collins goes back in time to look at historical figures who may have had conditions similar to autism, which the shrinks finally talk him into believing his son is at least sort of, kind of, on the spectrum. He spends a lot of time on Peter the Wild Boy, gets into a bit of Henry Darger and others, and presents us with an endless array of fascinating trivia. Thirty years ago, the obviously devoted Collins would have been targeted, for his thoroughness and thoughtfulness, as one of those too- intellectual "refrigerator parents" whose cold, remote attitude forced their kids to "withdraw into a shell of autism". He talks about Bruno Bettelheim, too -- the guy who came up with that, who faked a psychology degree and promoted the theory that all autism was caused by abusive parents. Bettelheim defrauded the psychiatric community and the public for years, while brutalizing hundreds of children at his Orthogenic School.Collins also finds evidence that so-called Asperger syndrome is not a "mild" or "high functioning" form of autism -- it is autism. The perceived difference between autism and Asperger originated with different samplings and with the differing attitudes of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger toward their young subjects. Asperger's research was ignored for decades, some of it lost in WWII.Collins looks for (and finds) a way to help Morgan communicate without murdering who he is, using an array of homemade picture cards. He also finds a school with an autistic program where the kids are permitted to learn in an interdisciplinary fashion, related to their particular interests and styles.The book ends in almost a parody of the old sunburst-through-clouds, ohmygod-it's a breakthrough fashion when Morgan notices Collins has left the room and yells "Daddy" to bring him back. So those who believe in the sickness/cure paradigm get a Reader's Digest condensed version of what they want, and Morgan remains jolly well autistic.The book repeatedly and convincingly gives the message that it's a mistake to try to force we autistics to behave as something other than our true selves. Parents of other autistic kids tell Collins about how their kid went through the pink monkey routine when they were mainstreamed, but did fine in an autistic school where they were allowed to communicate in their own way. Simply letting autistic people be autistic is such a revolutionary idea! But I think it will be accepted, along with ideas such as autistic culture, in the very near future.It is easy to forget that autism is still classified as a mental illness. Part of this confusion is caused by the fact that some psychotic children (made that way by abuse or other toxic life circumstance) behave superficially similar to autistic (cf. Mira Rothenberg's Children with Emerald Eyes: Histories of Extraordinary Boys and Girls). The Journal of Autism used to be the Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia and the two conditions were constantly being mistaken for each other. Now it is generally acknowledged thanks to Bernard Rimland and others that autism has a biochemical and/or neurological basis and is not a response to child abuse. (I believe it is only a matter of time before multiple personality is similarly demystified.)As of 2010, most mainstream services for autism are still dedicated to the proposition that autism can and must be cured, and that until that day, autistics must be trained to behave as close to non-autistic as possible. But the internet is full of autistic teens and adults, who explain their experiences on thousands of blogs and Youtube videos, rejecting puzzle-piece objectification. We have the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, owned and operated by autistic people. And there are blogs by parents explaining that, once again, there is nothing wrong with their kids. They're just different, so their education (not "intervention") will have to be different.It'll take a while to change, but I believe it will change. And I will live to see it, and so will you. Thank you, Paul Collins, for bringing that day a little closer.

  • Valarie
    2019-02-24 06:39

    Though I am often wary of "memoirs of autism" written by neurotypical adults, this book is an exception. Collins struggles to understand his child, not as someone who is "trapped" in a disorder, but simply someone who sees the world in a completely different and useful way. Though there are many social hinderances for people with autism, there are also many benefits, such as the ability to focus for hours on end at something you enjoy. This may be why autism is commonly linked with savants or geniuses, but it's not that autistic people are any smarter - perhaps we are all geniuses, but most neurotypical people are too easily distracted to make huge strides in their fields : ) As an historian, Collins does a great job of giving the reader context for the way autism has been perceived in different cultures. Of course, the perspectives of Native Americans and East Asians (both cultures have had interesting views of autistic behaviors) are missing, but you can't squeeze everything into one book!It's also worth noting that Collins and his wife are in the privileged position of working from home, so they are the primary caretakers for their son (and able to afford a babysitter when they need a break). It gives them a huge advantage in the attention they are able to give to his development.

  • Rand
    2019-02-21 05:17

    Collins draws upon a number of different unusual accounts in history (children raised by wolves, savants of all stripes, boffins, etc) to tell his own story of raising his son who was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum at an early age.Collins includes A LOT of information but at the same time glosses over certain parts of the memoir-ish stuff which were likely too difficult or tedious for him to share. If you want to know HOW exactly his son's behavioral therapists were able to do what they did, there are other books which will tell you. (This book could have easily have been twice as long (or more).)The way in which these two projects is meshed is nothing short of masterful. Collins's intuitive knack for spinning a yarn will make you turn pages as you question whether humanity's collective mental processes are more alike or different & where you fit in in the tale of us.

  • Laney
    2019-03-14 12:34

    Close to a five star for me for its excellent combination of history, psychology, neurology and real-world anecdotes. If you are interested in the history of autism spectrum disorders and its treatment, this book is an excellent overview and opens up some very interesting lines of thoughts, while not dipping into self-pity or martyrdom on the part of the right.Particularly, I enjoyed the discussion on genetic occupations associated in families with autism, and the fact that it suggests that all we know about autism is not currently evident in the patients who exhibit the most classic signs, but may also be present to a lesser degree in others.Particularly, I appreciate the way that Paul Collin's search for answers about a historical figure circles back around to developing a better understanding of the little boy right in front of him: his son Morgan. He treats Morgan like a person, not a case or a historical text to be studied, giving him the dignity that the little boy deserves and avoiding turning him into "Exhibit A."Highly recommended.

  • Catherine
    2019-03-21 06:17

    Not Even Wrong is not quite the book I thought it would be when I ordered it from the library. The story of Collins' son, Morgan, diagnosed as autistic just before his third birthday, the book is also the autobiography of Collins' adjustment to his son's condition, and his attempt (along with his wife) to work a path through the world for their family. There's much about this approach that I appreciated: Collins' realizes he probably places on the spectrum himself, albeit at an extremely high-functioning point, and comes to understand the prevalence of autistic behaviors in his family line; as a historian of literature, he's also particularly well suited to delve into accounts of individuals in the past who were very likely autistic before autism was understood. Still, there's a sense in which this isn't Morgan's story - and perhaps in good measure it never can be. Yet that's what I wanted more of - to understand how Morgan learned to navigate the world; to gain some appreciation for his particular ordering of the universe; to explore the tension between honoring him as fully human just as he is, and his parents' want to give him basic tools of verbal communication and sociability.I'm glad to have read the book, and yet feel curiously ambivalent about it. I wonder if this will change as I read the other stack of books about autism and Asperger's in my pile.

  • Cristina
    2019-02-21 05:39

    This book is written by the author of Sixpence House, a favorite book of my friend Laura (M) who loves Paul Collins and passed this book along to me. The book goes through the process of Paul Collins receiving a diagnosis of Autism for his young son. I really appreciated the honest insight from a parent who really didn't see it coming because it's a perspective that I really need to work to understand. Collins also offers some really interesting ideas on autism as a whole (one quote I wrote down from the book will definitely be saved away along with the autism experts' incredible insights I've been collecting). He alternates between personal story and his research into other people with Autism, most famous, some less known and the history of the diagnosis (which is really interesting). I think his research is very interesting, but those chapters are better for people who have not done a lot of research on Autism (he borrows heavily from Uta Frith-see my review of Autism: Explaining the Enigma)

  • Julie Akeman
    2019-03-05 09:18

    Excellent book!! But autistics are not all about numbers and strict logic. I learned to read at a young age and I build worlds in my mind. I have r's ead a lot of fantasy books and can probably write my own but will need an editor to work closely with me. I love the affirmation that autistic children, and the adults they grow into are a world of their own. One worthy to explore if you are willing to jump in. I do want to say one thing. I didn't like how the adults trying to help ie teachers and such experts, they want to break them out of their worlds and get them to focus on the outside of themselves. It's the way that they are doing it that I don't like, it's more abrupt. I prefer the play therapy that I have seen used, it's intense interaction but it focuses on the child's interest and you slowly draw them out. It's a lot of work and it takes a few years for some to make a breakthrough, but I prefer that than forcing their attention, it can induce a meltdown, we are 'safe' in our inner worlds, that's all I can say on that. But this is a great book.

  • Kate Thompson
    2019-03-13 07:33

    I was really moved by this and keep thinking about the way the author slowly unfolded the narrative. There is very little internal from the author (the father) - he sets up scenes with his son and lets us witness the trials and triumphs of learning about his child. You realize along the way that he himself is definitely on the autism spectrum, and it makes you appreciate the way that parents have a special understanding of their progeny. The compassion and acceptance both parents show to their son is admirable.While I like Collins' style I was less interested in the historical narrative of Peter the Wild Boy which interweaves with Morgan's story, largely because the latter is so compelling. But his prose style is so strong I'm planning to check out his first novel.There is an interesting interview on NPR's "Being" featuring Collins and his wife Jennifer, which is where I first heard of the book.

  • Nichola
    2019-03-07 11:15

    An Interesting book, almost two books interspersed, like shuffling a deck of cards, bringing them together by allowing the reader to make their own connections between his historical research and the day-to-day life of the author and his young son. This book had me hopping back and forth to the computer to check on the lives of the personalilties/eccentrics he was talking about. There must be so many more stories out there.The only thing lacking seemed to be his emotional response to his real life family's challenge of a wonderful son with autism; he most often details his behaviors or lack of response in very matter of fact scenes. He seemed to truly appreciate the child's point of view and NOT pathologist every response the boy made- but eventually he does reveal some level of distress, which legitimized his investment in this writing and drew me in until I was sorry when it ended.

  • Thais
    2019-03-15 09:21

    Paul Collins ci parla del suo bambino Morgan, che a neppure tre anni sa leggere, contare, ha una memoria straordinaria ed è intelligentissimo. Ma è anche autistico, e non reagisce agli stimoli esterni, non sa chiedere ciò che vuole, non si rende conto che gli altri non possono leggergli nel pensiero. Collins descrive episodi della loro vita quotidiana con affetto e dolcezza, intervallandoli a vari excursus nel mondo dell'autismo. Da Peter il Ragazzo Selvaggio agli ingegneri della Microsoft, il mondo è popolato da cervelloni intelligenti quanto stravaganti in grado di effettuare ragionamenti inarrivabili per la maggior parte di noi, ma che non riescono a stabilire contatti umani né a concepire che cosa siano le convenzioni sociali.È un libro veramente interessante, Morgan è un bambino dolcissimo, e il padre è davvero scrupoloso nel cercare di capire non solo il suo bambino, ma anche il mondo dell'autismo in generale.

  • Edward
    2019-03-07 04:13

    I just got this book, after hearing a fascinating discussion among Paul Collins, Jennifer Elder, his wife, and Krista Tippit on NPR this morning. I look forward to reading it, because Paul and Jennifer seem to have a unique approach, seeing the continuum of autism, and even the empirical advantages of being able to see the world through the eyes of an autistic person, in this case their son.As a historian, I also appreciate the historical dimensions of both Paul's book and also Jennifer's youth-reader effort, Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes. It should be very encouraging for both autistic kids and their friends/ parents/ relatives to read that people such as Einstein, Kant, and many others (including apparently many Microsoft engineers and some well-known artists and musicians) are people with autism of one level or another. Ed, July 17

  • Erin
    2019-03-23 07:21

    Paul Collins is quickly becoming one of my favorite newly-discovered authors. After reading his wonderfully funny Sixpence House, I knew I needed to try something else. This one starts where Sixpence House left off, when his family has moved back to the US and at the age of about three, his son Morgan is given an autistic spectrum diagnosis. Having worked with autistic and other special-needs kids at a previous job, many of the behaviors he described were very familiar to me, though I never worked with anyone quite so young. This book was not as humorous as his last (understandable and completely appropriate given the topic), but I actually thought it showed a lot more depth in the writing. Highly, highly recommended, and not just for anyone with connections to autism.

  • Michael
    2019-03-21 05:21

    We received our son's autism diagnosis a few months before I began reading Not Even Wrong. Having read (and loved) Collins' earlier works, I was eager to read it, and wasn't disappointed once I started.He manages to capture, so eloquently and subtly, the experience of coming to grips with the autism diagnosis in his own son, Morgan, while simultaneously telling the intriguing stories of historical figures who may also have had autism.I would recommend this book to any parent who is starting the autism journey with their child, but I think anyone would find it a fascinating read.

  • Amy Alstrum
    2019-02-22 04:29

    I spent a good portion of my adult life working with individuals on the autism spectrum, many of whom were nonverbal or had limited verbal capabilities. I was there to watch the evolution of their verbal language, which was nothing short of beautiful. Many parts of this book take me back to the wonder I felt watching my clients connect the dots to verbal communication.

  • Iamshadow
    2019-03-09 12:15

    Can't recommend this one enough. Collins not only discusses his son's autism and he and his wife's "traits" that might be considered slightly autistic in nature, but delves quite deeply into the history of autism and historical figures who may have been autistic.

  • Contessa
    2019-03-05 07:32

    It's always interesting to read how ASD effects different families. I have thought about writing one about the wonderful adventures I've had with my son, now 21. I'll let you know my thoughts once I finish.

  • Erin Isgett
    2019-03-10 04:30

    Wonderful book written by the father of an autistic son. I love that he weaves the stories of other autistic people from the past and present into his own son's story. I recorded a few quotes that I just loved (to keep for my own memory), and I'll share them here as well:"Everything is a phrase from somewhere: from TV, from computer games, from books, from songs. He collects broken bits of language like a magpie, gathering stray threads of conversation; and he arranges them into a nest, comfortable to him and bafflingly strange to anyone else.""Autists are described by others--and by themselves--as aliens among humans. But there's an irony to this, for precisely the opposite is true. They are us, and to understand them is to begin to understand what it means to be human. Think of it: a disability is usually defined in terms of what is missing. A child tugs at his or her parents and whispers, "Where's that man's arm?" But autism is an ability and a disability: it is as much about what is abundant as what is missing, an overexpression of the very traits that make our species unique. Other animals are social, but only humans are capable of abstract logic. The autistic outhuman the humans, and we can scarcely recognize the result.""Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you are destroying the peg. What if normal school makes you abnormally miserable? And what if growing up into normal society makes you a miserable adult? Is that success? Is that normal? Do you want to be in the mainstream if it's going to drown you?"

  • Jennifer Stock
    2019-03-13 04:25

    Great help in understanding autism from a parents perspective. Very well written

  • Janie
    2019-03-03 11:42

    I saw&heard Collins in the documentary Loving Lampposts. I was intrigued by his book's title, knowing its reference as I do.I got antsy during most some of the book's historical bits (the "Lost History of Autism" parts (see the subtitle)). I read those as fast as possible, to get back to the "Father's Journey" parts. In retrospect, the Lost History bits did help me improve upon my notions of mind and autism.------Snips 'n' SnailsIt's engineers all the way down.They were also nursing at 3 y.o.Exhibit V: "The autistic are prone to a constellation of oddities: synaesthesia, not at all coincidentally, happens to be one of them. Epilepsy, Tourette's, and perfect musical pitch all coincide with autism at a significant rate."

  • Kathy
    2019-02-21 08:37

    Collins' best book yet: poignant, well researched, and intensely personal. Paul and Jennifer began to realize that their son Morgan was mathematically and linguistically gifted, but unable to relate to other socially. As they looked for a diagnosis and suspected Asperger's syndrome, Paul did what he does so well: he researched the subject. Historical accounts, early medical studies, and a visit to Asperger's home in Austria all combined to provide a fascinating account of this fascinating syndrome. Undiagnosed cases may have included feral children, authors like Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and many of the 21st century "computer geeks" like Bill Gates.

    2019-03-10 08:29

    Incredibly engaging book about a family and their dealing with their only son having been diagnosed with Autism and how they deal and adapt to working with him and accepting this as part of their life. I did like how there was quite a bit of history on the diagnosis itself and historical references throughout about Autism with various cases and examples.

  • Ms.pegasus
    2019-03-03 09:42

    The cover art of NOT EVEN WRONG (the edition I read has a longer subtitle: A Father's Journey into the Lost History of Autism) depicts a collage of objects significant to Collins' son Morgan and the diversions the author encounters during his research. In a way, it is a reflection of autism itself: A collage of symptoms and behaviors. Morgan (Paul's son) is described as an “autist,” not “autistic.” The behaviors that unfold are a part of who he is, not just a trail of descriptors. We see an inquisitive child who can read at age 2, has an uncanny talent for mimicry and enthuses over popcorn and popsicles, but who does not say “Mommie” or “Daddy.” He's engaging, happy, volatile, focused, and, well, different. Thus we are introduced to the notion of a syndrome -- a collection of extreme idiosyncrasies. One of Morgan's most astonishing feats is the correct alignment of the planets on the window in the exact spot where they can be viewed as if they are suspended in the sky. Such moments of revealed vision are breathtaking. If the first reaction to their son's diagnosis is denial, the second is immersion in research. It is here that author Paul Collins reveals his own uniqueness. There is a genetic component to autism, and Paul looks back into his own childhood. Tantrums at school due to extreme frustration; the sense of being overwhelmed by too many noises, demands, social cues, chaotic voices, people, random sounds and objects; difficulties with sustained focused listening, and overfocusing when an activity is of interest, but not necessarily the subject at hand – many readers will recognize some of the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. But that can be a good thing. The same associative thought patterns seem to guide the structure of this book. One riff takes him from the door of the Earlswood Museum, to Dr. Frederick Sano's 1918 drawing of James Henry Pullen's brain, to the treatment of mental disturbance in the 1850's , to Dr. J. Langdon Down's innovations at the Earlswood Asylum, to the parsing of autism from retardation. to the biographical details of James Henry Pullen. His narrative is always so engaging, so focused on the fruit of his endless curiosity, that the reader often emerges from a passage wondering how exactly he got there.Much of Collins' story is poignant. We watch a year-long struggle in a special school as he and his wife try various techniques to encourage Morgan to communicate verbally – the first small step at opening up the door to the concept of otherness. One of Collins' treks is to the Liberty Dog Program at the Sanger Correctional Facility. It is the opening to a wide-ranging discussion from the autobiography of Temple Grandin to our capacity for nonverbal communication. The Liberty Dog Program pairs prison inmates with a training program for dogs destined to work with the disabled (visit the web address: The story ends when he views a photography of a child named Liam with his dog. Liam is an autist. He realizes that the bond of friendship that photo reveals is a mirror of his son's relationship to the much resuscitated “Elmo” doll that Morgan is so attached to. It is a look that recognizes friendship. Collins' research always feels alive. It begins with the story of Peter, the 19th century feral child brought to England by King George I. To tell that story, he journeys to Berkhamsted and reads the correspondence of contemporaries such as Jonathan Swift. When he visits Vienna or quotes from a book, it is as if he is visiting the ghost of Freud, or relating a conversation with Hans Asperger. A visit to the Microsoft campus, and a discussion with Dr. Simon Baron Cohen brings us back, inevitably, to an essential question about these spectrum disorders. What distinguishes enthusiasm from obsession? What divides introversion from an inability to socialize? What separates eccentricity from being “not even wrong” (a shorthand for not even sharing the same assumptions)? Is there a re-configuration of the genes of a great engineer or musician that also dips into autism? We assume we are swimming in a sea of normality, but how many are pretending to fit in? It is a twist on the Turing test (where a computer fools us into believing it is human) – people pretending to meet a seemingly arbitrary set of social expectations. Fate plays such a pronounced role in the happiness of each individual autist. Ultimately, Collins muses, “A genius must assiduously ignore others in order to be guided by his own curiosity, by a desire to make sense of the world....To someone with great focus, the fascination is the point. It was blind, brilliant, dumb luck that we had an Isaac Newton who focused on something that other people found important. There are Newtons of refrigerator parts, Newtons of painted light bulbs, Newtons of train schedules, Newtons of bits of string. Isaac Newton happened to be the Newton of Newtonian physics, and you cannot have him without having the others, too.”Paul Collins is a gifted writer, and the book he has produced is not only enlightening, but both entertaining and thought-provoking as well.

  • Jonathan Karmel
    2019-03-04 06:30

    This is a bunch of very loosely organized vignettes about various characters, past and present, who may or may not be autistic, interwoven with the author's experience raising his own son. We learn about Peter the Wild Boy, who was said to have lived for a period of time in the Black Forest in Hanover during the time of the English King George I. He was apparently able to survive in the woods foraging wild plants and fruit but could not speak. He hobnobbed with royalty and other notable men of arts and letters, including Lord Monboddo, who developed a theory that humans shared important characteristics with other animals, especially apes. I guess the point of this is that some autistic people seem to have more of an affinity with other animals than with their fellow humans, e.g. Temple Grandin, who gets a brief mention in this book. The author returns to this theme at the end when describing a prison where prisoners train therapy dogs for people with disabilities.We learn about early theories of autism, including the Freudian psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who convinced many that autism was the fault of "refrigerator mothers." According to this book, there may be a connection with Bettelheim's popular 1967 book The Empty Fortress and the rock opera Tommy by the Who. I think it's ironic that the guy who erroneously theorized that autism was caused by bad moms also wrote a fairly popular parenting book called A Good Enough Parent in 1987 and was lauded as a great mind in the field of psychology.This book speculates that Bill Gates is autistic, along with quite a few of the employees at Microsoft, and that Gates personally founded the University of Washington Autism Center.There is a long section of the book about synesthesia called Dear Chromophone, a reference to something published in the British journal Notes and Queries in the 19th Century. People with synesthesia associate things perceived with one sense with things perceived with another sense. Thus, George Field developed a whole theory of how music corresponded with color, beginning with the relationship between the seven notes of a scale and the seven colors of a rainbow. Septimus Piesse, author of the Art of Perfumery, correlated music and odors. And Eddie Van Halen was famous for his "Brown Sound."One of the patients at the Earlswood Asylum (run by J. Langdon Down, whom Down Syndrome is named after), was James Pullen, the Genius of Earlswood, who was famous for making an incredibly detailed model of a famous ship.We also learn about Kerstin Dautenhahn, a professor of artificial intelligence, who studies children who like to interact with robots more than they like to interact with humans.Then there's Henry Darger, famous for his 15,145 page novel, with copious illustrations. Another weird artist was Joseph Cornell, famous for the assemblage style. Hey, maybe even Andy Warhol was autistic.Before computers, Lewis Fry Richardson developed a theory that we could predict the weather if only we had enough human "computers" to crunch the numbers. Richardson developed the first techniques for forecasting the weather using computer modeling.And don't forget about Darius McCollum, who has spent a good part of his life in jail, because his fascination with trains led him to repeatedly impersonate NYC Transit personnel.So all these guys who were really good at math, or were fixated on certain projects, or related to people or machines better than humans, or had unusual ways of perceiving things, displayed autistic traits. A lot of autistic people are really interested in train or bus schedules, or weather systems or are drawn to professions like piano tuning. The book as a whole comes off as kind of a random assortment of things the author was researching as he tried to deal with raising his own autistic son.One thing that struck me was that his own son was only 3 1/2 at the end of the book and could already read and do math to some extent. He also was beginning to develop the ability to communicate verbally. It really seemed like it was way to early for the author to make any kind of predictions about what his son might turn out to be like, and I'm curious to know what he is like now, 10 years after this book was written.

  • Kate
    2019-03-06 04:36

    Random browsing on goodreads

  • Ellis Amdur
    2019-03-18 10:33

    Ranges from stories of “The Wild Child” to the techs at Microsoft, who turn on a video feed on their laptops to watch the speech of the man in the auditorium speaking in front of them. It may be that human genius would be impossible without autism – Isaac Newton, for example, was almost certainly autistic. Collins conveys the world of the autistic with profound empathy – and this, sometimes, is even more powerful than a first person account, because he can convey what he knows in translation. Most significantly, this book is about Collins, his wife and their son, Morgan – aged three – and their passionate love for this little boy, and his, ever so subtle, emerging from autism into relationship.The only reservation I have about the book is the idea of a continuum between autism and Asperger's syndrome, even though that is the conventional wisdom these days. It is worthwhile to read Ido in Autismland, a first-person account by a non-verbal boy (who writes on a letter-board or tablet). The distinction he makes is worth considering further: that the person with Asperger's syndrome is 'socially clueless' - they have a vey hard time sorting out social information: facial expression, tone of voice, body posture. With no deficit of human kindness - when they understand what's going on - they can have a deficit in empathy, the ability to TRACK what's going on. Ido asserts that the essence of autism is that he cannot make his body obey his mind. Further, that there is a much larger information processing issue - the world itself is chaotic. Ido adamantly asserts that he - and people like him - can track other's emotions. They simply cannot respond was they wish. At any rate, I add this because I do not want the "book closed" on autism and on Asperger's syndrome, as the DSM-V seems to have done, and to which this book, with the best intentions in the world, seems to contribute.

  • Douglas
    2019-02-22 07:32

    You won't find the rage at autism that so many parents have experienced, or the accounts of scientific and medical detective work that other parents have undertaken. What you will find is a collection of stories of people in both relatively ancient (Peter the Wild Boy) and relatively recent (Henry Darger) history who might have been diagnosed somewhere along the autism spectrum, interspersed with his experiences of his son, Morgan. Another way this book is different from a lot of books written by parents of children with autism, is that Collins uses this collection of stories to look at Morgan's life in its totality, thinking what Morgan might be like at age 40, or age 70, instead of focusing on today's trials and opportunities. Collins thinks a lot further into the future than most parents. On the other hand, using history to think about autism, may not be the best way to go, as quite a bit of research into autism and related disorders is currently under way. If you've already read some books about autism, you might think "Been there, done that" as you read about important people in the autism community like Simon Baron-Cohen and Temple Grandin. On the other hand, this book is unusually free of the anger, drama and tragedy of many books on this topic. Another thing that is useful about this book is to reflect that autism has most likely been around for a long time. The book is easy to read, and is extensively documented if you wish to go further along the path Collins is treading.

  • Erika Barrington
    2019-03-05 09:42

    This book was so so wonderful and eye-opening. Important to note - I think it would be interesting even if I didn't know a handful of people who are autistic, because Paul Collins really taps into the ways that neurologically atypical folks can change the way we see our own reality. Just knowing about someone who could write a beautifully complex math equation but then realized they didn't know how to fold a letter to get it in an envelope... makes you stop and consider for a moment when you interact with a stranger. Maybe their mind is different from mine? My one critique (and I really mean one because this book is great as is): I would have liked to see more discussion of low functioning autistic people. He mostly talks about high-functioning, and we forget that these amazing stories of people who can live in the world if only we were more tolerant of them... maybe not true for every person on the spectrum. And its a BIG spectrum. Ok thats all. Spoiler alert:I cried in the end when Morgan finally was aware that Paul had left and flipped out in the grocery store trying to find him, and then they hugged for a long time and everyone stared at them. Awesomely cute and touching.

  • Kaethe
    2019-03-18 06:27

    Highly recommended to anyone interested in autism. Mom NOS is also a fan.Reading the memoirs of parents who's children have autism, one of the things you notice is the broad spectrum of reactions. For a lot of parents, like Collins, there is an acceptance that "this" is how this child is. It may be very different from other children, or not. But for a given child, "this" is normal. Other parents seem to view their child's behavior as apart from the child himself, so that "this" isn't the child but a symptom of a disease the child has.I think Paul Collins is probably a very good father, and I enjoyed his book.