I have not had much experience with autistic individuals but in the past five years I have had three friends who have autistic children. This book was very informative in a captivating way. It is written in a chronological format and documents the history of autism.
The beginning years in the 1930s and 1940s were difficult to read about because there was not a diagnosis other than "lunatic". Usually these individuals were placed in insane asylums and stayed there for most of their lives.
There were a couple of families who sensed that this was not the answer and tried to work with their children with autism, seeing bits of success as far as small changes. But this was enough hope for these parents to look harder for understanding and help and cure.
For many years mothers were made to feel that they were to blame for their child's diagnosis by not being a good mother. Yet several mothers again were able to rationalize that if the diagnosis was caused by the mother then why did ALL of her children not have autism?
The story of how these parents fought for answers and help is inspiring for other parents with children with "incurable, hopeless" conditions today. Nothing is hopeless. The answer just has not been found yet.
I found the history fascinating, sad, exciting and inspiring.
Other topics covered include the difficulties in getting autistic children any education at all. Today this has all changed due to the efforts of parents and doctors and scientists who continued to fight for the rights of children to education. Also, the question of how to communicate which was originally seen as impossible but many improvements have occurred over the last few decades.
In addition to a history of the disorder, its battles and victories, there are also success stories of those who are living a so called "normal" life with this diagnosis.
The bibliography is impressive and full. Also included is a timeline of autism which puts the highlights into a shortened version easy to refer too. Throughout the later chapters resources are listed that would be valuable today for families and individuals with the condition.
I found it a fascinating history and reference book regarding this disability.