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Everything You Think You Know About Autism Is Wrong

Apropos women, I have to throw in one more Ido anecdote to give you a sense of the young man who wrote this quite amazing book. I was at a get-together where we were playing a board game called Taboo. For those of you who have never played this fun parlor game, here's a quick explanation:

It sounds so simple: get your team to name common words [or identify well-known people] without voicing a few choice descriptors. But could you describe a wristwatch without mentioning time, wrist, or clock? Taboo rewards those who think--and speak--fast. The team that correctly identifies as many words as possible in a minute (measured with an hourglass timer) wins. If a member of the opposing team, armed with the blaring buzzer, catches the clue giver using any of the taboo words, a point is deducted from the group's score. It's a good idea to separate people who know each other well, because their familiarity can be too great an advantage. If the clue is spinach, prompting with "Mom made this every Monday" just doesn't seem fair, though it is permissible according to the rules. Playing Taboo requires an AA battery and a sense of humor--you'll need them both! The timer is included. Taboo is for four or more players.

When it was Ido's turn, he had to help his teammates guess "Marilyn Monroe." If I remember correctly, he was banned from using such obvious words and phrases as "sex symbol," "blonde," "icon," and "movie star" when he described her. Ido, thirteen at the time, was unfazed. He quickly tapped out "Kennedy's breathless birthday singer."  His team won.

If you work with autistic children, if you have an autistic child or relative, or if you know someone autistic, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I know that the parents of most autistic children, like Ido's parents, never give up their belief in their child or their hope that, some day, their child can begin to communicate with them. Until today, though, most of them didn't have the sheer good luck to fall within Soma Mukhopadhyay's orbit. Ido's book introduces other autistic children and their families to the same pathway to freedom that Soma gave to him. With his insights about both the problems and the blessings of autism, those whose lives intersect with autistic people will never view autism in the same way again.

(If you would like to learn more about Ido in addition to reading his book, check out his blog, Ido in Autismland.)


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