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THE AUTISTIC BRAIN

THINKING ACROSS THE SPECTRUM

An illuminating look at how neuroscience opens a window into the mind.

Grandin (Animal Science/Colorado State Univ.; Different…Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD, 2012, etc.), whose life has been an inspiration to millions, warns parents, teachers and therapists of the danger of getting locked into diagnostic labels.

With the assistance of science writer Panek (The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality, 2011, etc.), Grandin applies her experience and interviews with others on the autistic spectrum to the latest neuroscientific research. Describing the labels given to autism and other developmental disorders as “a clumsy system of behavioral profiling” that shifts with every new edition, she is critical of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and its revised diagnosis of “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” She reviews how understanding of autism has developed since 1947, when she was born and so-called refrigerator moms were targeted for blame. Today, “observable neurological and genetic evidence” is beginning to reveal how a multiplicity of causes, including environmental factors, may be responsible for particular symptoms. Readers of Grandin’s previous books and viewers of the award-winning 2010 biopic will be familiar with the details of her life and career as a high-functioning autistic. She has been a volunteer experimental subject since 1987, in the early days of MRIs, and scans of her brain reveal structural differences that appear to correlate with her disabilities and her extraordinary visual memory. Grandin is optimistic that future progress will improve diagnosis and education for non-neurotypicals who have many important gifts to contribute.

An illuminating look at how neuroscience opens a window into the mind.

Pub Date: April 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-63645-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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PERMISSION TO FEEL

UNLOCKING THE POWER OF EMOTIONS TO HELP OUR KIDS, OURSELVES, AND OUR SOCIETY THRIVE

An intriguing approach to identifying and relating to one’s emotions.

An analysis of our emotions and the skills required to understand them.

We all have emotions, but how many of us have the vocabulary to accurately describe our experiences or to understand how our emotions affect the way we act? In this guide to help readers with their emotions, Brackett, the founding director of Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, presents a five-step method he calls R.U.L.E.R.: We need to recognize our emotions, understand what has caused them, be able to label them with precise terms and descriptions, know how to safely and effectively express them, and be able to regulate them in productive ways. The author walks readers through each step and provides an intriguing tool to use to help identify a specific emotion. Brackett introduces a four-square grid called a Mood Meter, which allows one to define where an emotion falls based on pleasantness and energy. He also uses four colors for each quadrant: yellow for high pleasantness and high energy, red for low pleasantness and high energy, green for high pleasantness and low energy, and blue for low pleasantness and low energy. The idea is to identify where an emotion lies in this grid in order to put the R.U.L.E.R. method to good use. The author’s research is wide-ranging, and his interweaving of his personal story with the data helps make the book less academic and more accessible to general readers. It’s particularly useful for parents and teachers who want to help children learn to handle difficult emotions so that they can thrive rather than be overwhelmed by them. The author’s system will also find use in the workplace. “Emotions are the most powerful force inside the workplace—as they are in every human endeavor,” writes Brackett. “They influence everything from leadership effectiveness to building and maintaining complex relationships, from innovation to customer relations.”

An intriguing approach to identifying and relating to one’s emotions.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-21284-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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THE RIGHT STUFF

Yes: it's high time for a de-romanticized, de-mythified, close-up retelling of the U.S. Space Program's launching—the inside story of those first seven astronauts.

But no: jazzy, jivey, exclamation-pointed, italicized Tom Wolfe "Mr. Overkill" hasn't really got the fight stuff for the job. Admittedly, he covers all the ground. He begins with the competitive, macho world of test pilots from which the astronauts came (thus being grossly overqualified to just sit in a controlled capsule); he follows the choosing of the Seven, the preparations for space flight, the flights themselves, the feelings of the wives; and he presents the breathless press coverage, the sudden celebrity, the glorification. He even throws in some of the technology. But instead of replacing the heroic standard version with the ring of truth, Wolfe merely offers an alternative myth: a surreal, satiric, often cartoony Wolfe-arama that, especially since there isn't a bit of documentation along the way, has one constantly wondering if anything really happened the way Wolfe tells it. His astronauts (referred to as "the brethren" or "The True Brothers") are obsessed with having the "right stuff" that certain blend of guts and smarts that spells pilot success. The Press is a ravenous fool, always referred to as "the eternal Victorian Gent": when Walter Cronkite's voice breaks while reporting a possible astronaut death, "There was the Press the Genteel Gent, coming up with the appropriate emotion. . . live. . . with no prompting whatsoever!" And, most off-puttingly, Wolfe presumes to enter the minds of one and all: he's with near-drowing Gus Grissom ("Cox. . . That face up there!—it's Cox. . . Cox knew how to get people out of here! . . . Cox! . . ."); he's with Betty Grissom angry about not staying at Holiday Inn ("Now. . . they truly owed her"); and, in a crude hatchet-job, he's with John Glenn furious at Al Shepard's being chosen for the first flight, pontificating to the others about their licentious behavior, or holding onto his self-image during his flight ("Oh, yes! I've been here before! And I am immune! I don't get into corners I can't get out of! . . . The Presbyterian Pilot was not about to foul up. His pipeline to dear Lord could not be clearer"). Certainly there's much here that Wolfe is quite right about, much that people will be interested in hearing: the P-R whitewash of Grissom's foul-up, the Life magazine excesses, the inter-astronaut tensions. And, for those who want to give Wolfe the benefit of the doubt throughout, there are emotional reconstructions that are juicily shrill.

But most readers outside the slick urban Wolfe orbit will find credibility fatally undermined by the self-indulgent digressions, the stylistic excesses, and the broadly satiric, anti-All-American stance; and, though The Right Stuff has enough energy, sass, and dirt to attract an audience, it mostly suggests that until Wolfe can put his subject first and his preening writing-persona second, he probably won't be a convincing chronicler of anything much weightier than radical chic.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1979

ISBN: 0312427565

Page Count: 370

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1979

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