In A Different Key: One (Deeply Flawed) Story of Autism

M. Kelter TheInvisibleStrings.com 
 In A Different Key, by John Donvan and Caren Zucker, is described by its publisher as “the definitive history of autism.” Its story begins in the 1930s, with a portrait of “autism’s first child” Donald Triplett, then moves to “father of child psychiatry” Leo Kanner, who was the one to diagnose Triplett with autism. In the following decades, readers encounter a variety of researchers and parents as they grapple with questions about the origin and nature of autism. This history is a complex and nuanced one, yet Donvan and Zucker tell a fairly straightforward David and Goliath narrative. The role of the villain, Goliath, is played not by a person, but by autism itself. Anyone fighting autism becomes the book’s sympathetic, underdog David. Which means that, unfortunately, In A Different Key becomes a chronological collection of anecdotes about these “heroic” battles. [image: Book cover: Beige background…