In a Different Key: The Story of Autism - John Donvan, Caren Zucker

As some of you may know, April is Autism Awareness Month and as I myself have a cousin who has non-verbal autism, I try to do a collection of reviews on Autism / Asperger's books (both fiction and non) each year. One such book I was asked to review was a recent release, In A Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker -- both are correspondents for ABC News -- both with family members with autism. This one's a chunker (nearly 700 pages!) of a microhistory read but proved to be damn informative! My review I will post separately but below I have listed, for reference for anyone looking for this kind of information, some links to support groups and other organizations mentioned in this book. Just click on the name to go to the website :-)



 Autism Speaks (combined on website)


    *also under the Autism Speaks umbrella:

        --- NAAR (National Alliance for Autism                  Research)

        --- Cure Autism Now!

        --- ACRE (Autism Coalition for Research & Education)



International Society for Autism Research

        --- hosts yearly International Meeting for Autism Research


National Autism Society aka Autism Society Of America, originally known as National Society for Autistic Children


National Autism Association

ASAN (Autism Self Advocacy Network)

GRASP (Global & Regional Asperger's Syndrome Partnership)

TEACCH (Treatment & Education of Autistic or related Communication Handicapped Children) -- *I know that doesn't spell the acronym right, but that's what it's suppose to stand for

AGRE (Autism Genetic Resource Exchange)

Autism Science Foundation

Autism Services Center

Autism Research Institute

       --- ran Defeat Autism Now! program until program was discontinued in 2011 (Asperger's Syndrome support community)






Movies featuring Autism or Asperger's Syndrome:



Rain Man (a film inspired by real life savant Kim Peek)


Temple Grandin (biopic of the life of real life autistic scientist Temple Grandin) -- SO good! It was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards (it was released through HBO), ended up winning 7 of them! In the book A Different Key, it's mentioned that Claire Danes only spent one afternoon talking with Temple Grandin prior to filming the movie, yet Grandin herself felt Danes nailed the performance. Grandin was also moved to tears the first time she watched David Straithairn's portrayal of her favorite teacher, Dr. Carlock. 


Portrait of an Autistic Young Man (PBS documentary -- couldn't find a purchasing / viewing link, only info... may have to see if it's available through your local library)


Son-Rise (based on a memoir by the same name)


Change Of Habit (yes, the Elvis Presley movie strangely enough! but he plays a doctor working with autistic kids in this one, among other things)


House of Cards -- *not the Kevin Spacey series, the Tommy Lee Jones film


Hear The Silence (BBC drama inspired by the vaccine scare triggered by comments made by Dr. Andrew Wakefield -- currently available to view for free on Youtube ... for now)


   >>> If you're not familiar with the story, here's the "Cliff Notes" version: In 1998, Dr. Wakefield was a gastroenterologist working at London's Royal Free Hospital where he found himself with a dozen cases of children, 3-10 years old, who were coming in with severe intestinal discomfort or inflammation. Of those cases, he noticed many of the children seemed to display autistic qualities. Further testing showed all these children had traces of the measles virus in their intestinal tracts. Looking more in depth at the medical histories, Wakefield found all the children had been given the MMR (Measles Mumps Ruebella) vaccine -- the patient is basically given three vaccines in one syringe.


It was later on at a press conference that Wakefield made a statement that after doing further research on the matter, he had developed the hypothesis that the MMR vaccine as it was then being administered was possibly too potent for the developing systems of some small children, causing the gut to become inflamed. Inflammation in the gut could then lead to inflammation in the brain which then might trigger autistic behavior. He reiterated thought that it was JUST a hypothesis and that he was NOT advocating avoiding vaccines together. He thought vaccinations were important but, in the name of safety first, recommended that maybe parents look into having family physicians the split up the vaccines & given in a staggered fashion over the course of months, to give the body time to adjust to each dosage. Unfortunately, many still took the message as "Vaccines cause autism!", developing into the divisive Vax / Anti-Vax stance argument still going on today. 


Unforgotten: 25 Years After Willowbrook (documentary also available free to watch on Youtube)