I have some reservations about how the protagonist (who has Aspergers) in this book is portrayed, he does read a bit like a caricature of a person onI have some reservations about how the protagonist (who has Aspergers) in this book is portrayed, he does read a bit like a caricature of a person on the autism-spectrum rather than like a genuine person.
Despite this, I think it's a good book. Someone who knew little or nothing about living with autism would (I think) walk away from this book a little bit wiser, with a bit more understanding for many of the more common traits, and the depiction is in sum total a positive and nuanced one.
I also give this book some bonus-points for showing pretty clearly that many of the problems faced by people on the spectrum are caused as much (or more!) by the way neurotypicals treat them as by any property of their own personality, the main problem in this book is after all caused by (view spoiler)[the dad lying to his son and claiming that the mother is dead, when reality is that she has merely left them and moved to London with a new man. (hide spoiler)]
Also bonus-points for explaining several coping-mechanisms in a way that doesn't treat the coping-mechanisms as a problem to be solved, but instead as useful and indeed positive ways of dealing with a difficult situation. The protagonist stims, groans, does mental arithmetic, hide in small enclosed spaces and groan, and none of this is presented as if it is a problem....more
It's a refreshing change of perspective to see neurotypical people described from the perspective of an autist, ratThis is a easy, quick and fun book.
It's a refreshing change of perspective to see neurotypical people described from the perspective of an autist, rather that the much more common perspective of seeing autistic people described (often poorly!) from the perspective of a nt.
I think this book is a good read both for people on the autism-spectrum who wants to understand certain behavioural patterns in nts better and for nts who want to get a fresh new outside perspective on some aspects of their own behavior that is frequently puzzling to autists.
The book does read as fairly antagonistic towards nts in some places, and I do think that the author has misunderstood or incompletely understood some parts of nt behavior, personally though I found even these parts to be fairly amusing, because it's such a refreshing change of perspective from the equallly bad descriptions I've seen of autistic people by nts.
NTs can have trouble seeing or hearing things that they don’t already expect to see or hear, so new ideas can “fall on deaf ears.” It is not necessarily the case that they dislike new ideas; they might simply be unable to detect them because of symbolic filtering.
The patterns in this chapter explain how NTs get what they want from others, through such techniques as forming alliances, lying, and competing for rank and reputation. NT society is organized around these competitive techniques.
Lying is considered a normal and acceptable thing to do among NTs, despite what they may say about it. Since a main purpose of their communication is manipulation, communicating lies is just one of the ways of achieving that purpose.
A common source of power is knowing personal information about someone that would be embarrassing if it became public. When power-hungry NTs obtain information like this, their first thought is “how can I use this to my advantage?” One of the ways that is advantageous is to threaten the person that you will expose them unless they provide you an unrelated favor in return. Some - perhaps most - NTs will take any such opportunity and try to squeeze the most out of it, at times keeping a person under their control for years with a constant threat that is never acted out.
If the foregoing description of NTs sounds bleak, you may be wondering if there is any hope of fitting in or competing with them. The short answer is probably “no,” but you can still find yourself and make a place among them, perhaps even relate to them, without actually being the same as them.
This last one in particular does sound overly bleak to me. The autistic people in my life have not only found a place for themselves among nts, but also have positive relationships of varying types to nts. ...more
(review based on the first ~30% of the book, I abandoned this book and am not going to complete it)
The topic of this book is interesting, so I was hop(review based on the first ~30% of the book, I abandoned this book and am not going to complete it)
The topic of this book is interesting, so I was hopeful starting out. Unfortunately it quickly became apparent that this is a book that evangelizes the authors one theory at any cost, including making completely unsourced claims that look extremely dubious even to a casual observer.
This book can be summarized with "we like things because we're born essentialists" and that's just not enough meat for an entire book.
The author also seems blissfully unaware about several of the groups he nevertheless write about; for example:
I used to work with children with autism and was constantly reminded to call them “children with autism” instead of “autistics”—the argument being that there is more to these people than their disorder.
He's either unaware, or doesn't bother mentioning how many people on the spectrum feel about that.
But where he really lost me was with his treatment of gender.
Before ever learning about physiology, genetics, evolutionary theory, or any other science, children think that there is something internal and invisible that distinguishes boys from girls.
Seven-year-olds tend to endorse statements such as “Boys have different things in their innards than girls” and “Because God made them that way” (a biological essence and a spiritual essence). Only later in development do children accept cultural explanations, such as “Because it is the way we have been brought up.” You need to be socialized to think about socialization.
Let me get that straight: he thinks that we're born gender-essentialists, and the evidence he use in favour of that is that 7 year old people who know little about evolutionary theory, still think that gender is a fundamental property of people, and he (or so it seems) thinks that socialization is something that hasn't yet started by age 7, so the views of 7-year old children can be used as evidence that a certain view is NOT a result of socialization? (where does he imagine 7 year old got the idea that human beings are the way we are "because God made them that way" ?)