1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern PhD, RN

Article Content

Silberman S. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. New Jersey: Avery Publishing Group; 2015.


Journalist Steve Silberman writes for Wired, The Times, The New Yorker, and other contemporary venues. In this New York Times bestseller and winner of the prestigious 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction, he presents a comprehensive view of the complexities of autism. A foreword by neurologist Oliver Sacks applauds this work and encourages us to read more about why rates of autism diagnosis have increased so steeply in the past 30 years. The book does much to demystify autism as it clarifies historical perspective and offers new insights. This is a valuable resource for medical professionals, educators, parents, and the public at large. Although the book does not contain all of the answers to this complex condition, it does clarify many questions and inform the reader toward a new level of understanding.

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The book brings the reader through the hazy history of this condition and the groundbreaking work of pediatrician Hans Asperger. In this work, Silberman presents new knowledge and keys to a deeper understanding of the difficulties and rewards described by experts, families, and many others. This book advocates for a broader level of acceptance, through a deeper understanding of autism.


Silberman describes the field of "neurodiversity" and brings the reader through new ways to provide support for individuals and families affected. This work is an important step toward finding tools and methods to support those with cognitive differences.


In 2001, Silberman also published The Geek Syndrome, one of the first articles in the mainstream press to probe the complex relationship between autism and genius. His work is further disseminated in a recent Ted Talk, expanding on his work in the field over the past 5 years.


Steve Silberman: The Forgotten History of Autism

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Published on June 17, 2015


Silberman follows up on discussion incited by his 2015 book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.


Silberman's message is clear. The story of autism is long and complicated, and much of it has been wrong-instilling fear into parents and complicating decisions to vaccinate children against highly treatable communicable diseases.


Silberman begins his talk with statistics reflecting the 2014 measles outbreak in Disneyland, when 132 kids received a diagnosis of measles. Some children from that outbreak traveled to Canada and infected more than 100 children. This historic outbreak renewed discussion and opened avenues for experts to clarify the myths created by a fabricated, unethical, and retracted study by Dr Andrew Wakefield, erroneously linking childhood vaccinations to autism. Wakefield, now a disgraced researcher, was stripped of his medical license. He has become a model for unethical research. His story was wrong, yet the story prevailed.


Silberman's talk reminds us that decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, only 1 in 5000 children was estimated to have the condition. Today, 1 in 68 children are identified as being on the autism spectrum. Silberman addresses this steep rise and explains that we now have "a perfect storm of autism awareness"-informed physicians, expanded criteria (with an unexpected pop culture moment (following movies such as Rain Man in 1988), and a new clinical test.


Prior to this new understanding and awareness, there were only a few who worked to really understand the condition. Silberman brings us back to an article written in 1944 by an Austrian doctor, Hans Asperger. Because it was buried in time (as were many great works in Europe during that time), autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since.


Silberman's work brings to light many of the misconceptions that continue to cloud our understanding. However, Silberman's work serves as a call "to bring every form of human intelligence together" to help families and those living with autism find success.


(This talk was part of a TED2015 session curated by Pop-Up Magazine ( or @popupmag on Twitter).


Blog Post


November 4, 2015

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"Afaf Meleis: A Transformative Leader"


An RNL Blogger Honors One of His Most Memorable Mentors


By Christopher Lance Coleman


Dr Coleman writes from a dual perspective-he had the privilege of being a student and later a colleague of Dr Meleis. His gratitude is palpable, and his recent inspiration to write is a welcome reflection for many of us. Perhaps he writes this blog because Dr Meleis was recently honored as a "Living Legend" by the American Academy of Nursing, or simply because he was reflecting on those who have helped to shape him professionally. He writes with eloquence, affection, and admiration about someone who has influenced many students, educators, and clinicians.


As a doctoral student, he remembers her style and her passion:


In walked Professor Meleis, who, with her Socratic style, began querying each of us about the assigned readings. Instantly, I knew I was in the presence of a profound scholar, an intellectual giant. That day, I learned she had high expectations of her students, but, more importantly, she wanted to infuse us with her passion for nursing.


Dr Coleman's blog post served to remind me that we are always standing on the shoulders of giants in our profession. Moreover, it encouraged me to recall mentors, teachers, and friends who have inspired me to continue to bring new ideas and innovations to our work.


As I read, I remembered one of my first doctoral classes, we were challenged to learn more about nursing leaders who had forged new paths, inspired new questions, and modeled innovation. Through these discussions, I came to know the work of Afaf I. Meleis, PhD, DrPS(Hon), FAAN, dean emeritus, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. All of my professors knew her work; some were former students and often spoke fondly about her. Finally, one day, I heard her speak at a conference. I was inspired, energized, and simply wowed!


Thank you, Dr Coleman, for sharing your thoughts and words[horizontal ellipsis] and reminding us that all expressions of the written word lead to inspiration. This blog continues to be an important site for all nursing professionals.


Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.