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Everything You Think You Know About Autism Is Wrong

Full disclosure: I've known Ido for many years, which means that I can attest to the fact that he wrote every word in this book. The mature vocabulary, the sly sense of humor, and the thoughtfulness are all his. He displays these traits in every personal interaction.

The above disclosure is necessary, not just because readers should always know of relationships between author and reviewer, but also because those unfamiliar with non-verbal autism might believe that Ido's parents or some well-meaning therapist wrote the book on his behalf. It would be easy to make this mistake. Ido presents as a very typical, non-verbal autistic teen: he's tall, good-looking, and, except for his occasional sweet smiles, his face is usually expressionless. His is not merely a poker-face. It's a face utterly free of the cues humans instinctively look for when meeting another person.

Ido's speech -- which he rarely uses -- is limited to half-formed syllables. When he speaks, he produces about 40% of the sounds required for full communication, so he is intelligible only to those familiar with him. When a room gets too crowded or noisy, Ido's hands start flapping wildly before his face in a movement known in autism circles as a "stim." Sitting still is hard for him and he has a tendency to grab what he wants. If you ask Ido to pass a salt shaker to his mother, it might end up in his father's hand. The following video is a good example of an autistic child's random movements and stimming: