18-09 Segment 1: Misunderstanding Autism

Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo


In the last 30 years, the number of children that are diagnosed with autism has increased, yet parents have received very little information on what has caused this number to skyrocket. Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, explains that the spike in diagnoses was caused by the development of a new definition for autism. He says that it was initially believed to be caused by a mixture of bad parenting and genetics, making it into a taboo topic, and allowing many people to ignore its presence for almost thirty years.

Over time, autism has become more visible to the public, yet people still have a skewed understanding of what it is. Silberman explains that autism is a lifelong disorder that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, states that many of the behaviors that we identify as symptoms of autism are often coping mechanisms for those who are autistic to deal with an environment that can be overwhelming. Among the traits of autism is the inability to easily communicate, which can make this disorder particularly disabling for some.

Since autism has become more prevalent in our culture, it is important for people to understand the myths surrounding autism and take steps to better understand the disorder. Silberman explains that too much money is being spent on looking for risk factors, and not enough is going towards research to help autistic individuals and their families. Dr. Prizant states that the current treatments do little to help autistic individuals, and in some cases can make their lives more difficult. Although research into what causes autism is imperative to understanding the disorder, there should be more focus on making life easier for those who suffer with it everyday.


  • Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
  • Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor of Artists & Scientists As Partners Group at Brown University, and author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

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Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 18-09



Misunderstanding Autism

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17-05 Segment 1: Autism in Girls

little girl sitting on the bench in the park at the day time


Experts have believed that autism affects four times as many boys as girls, but the ratio may not actually be quite that high. Doctors are learning that autism shows up differently in girls’ behavior as a result of brain differences. This leaves many girls with autism undiagnosed.

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Click here for guest information and the transcript

16-19 Segment 2: Autism and Prodigies

16-19B Autism and Prodigies


Synopsis: Behavioral similarities between prodigies and some people with autism have long been noted. Now some researchers are beginning to find genetic links between the two phenomena. Experts discuss findings and their implications for autism treatment.

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15-40 Segment 1: Misunderstanding Autism


Synopsis: Autism has been misunderstood ever since its first description in the 1940’s. Experts describe how this misunderstanding has drastically affected treatment of people with autism, and how schools and other institutions might change their approach and understanding to improve treatment.

Host: Reed Pence. Guests: Steve Silberman, author, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity; Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor, Artists & Scientists As Partners group, Brown University and author, Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

Links for more information:

Click here for the transcript