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Anthropologist studies autism epidemic

Here's a Dianne Rehm interview of Roy Richard Grinker author of "Unstrange Minds: Remappping the World of Autism"
After anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker got the news of his daughter's autism diagnosis, he set out on a journey around the world to better understand the disorder. He tells the story of his travels and how he came to the conclusion that there is no autism "epidemic," as some experts have claimed, but that we are in a period of vastly improved diagnosis and treatment for the problem.
Grinker speaks of the common report from parents that receiving an autism diagnosis for their child is devastating. Personally I never had that feeling of devastation. The closest I've come so far is the day I broke down crying after receiving a particularly grim prognosis of what I could expect in dealing with my school district in getting services for Isaiah. His autism is very different from Ethan's and much more difficult to deal with. I've recently had the realization that the boys (Isaiah in particular) may not reach a point where they can live independently of us. I thought, well, that possibility comes with the territory of being a parent.

Grinker apparently mentions a connection between traumatic brain injury and autism in his book. I hit upon this myself a short while back. I'm not sure that we are seeing the same kind of connection though. He seems to be talking about the way we choose to categorize people. The terms autism and traumatic brain injury apparently came into more common use at around the same time. I may have to read his book to find out more.

The different reactions to autism in different cultures that Grinker describes in the interview are interesting (and to me a bit predictable).

I highly recommend listening to this interview. Also take a look at Grinker's website Unstrange Minds.


  1. You are so strong for your boys. It's so inspiring.


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