medicine

  It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?

In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the story of what happened next.

  All her life, Emily has felt different from other kids. Between therapist visits, sudden uncontrollable bursts of anger, and unexplained episodes of dizziness and loss of coordination, things have always felt not right. For years, her only escape was through the stories she’d craft about herself and the world around her. But it isn’t until a near-fatal accident when she’s twelve years old that Emily and her family discover the truth: a grapefruit sized benign brain tumor at the base of her skull.

In her memoir, All Better Now, Emily Wing Smith chronicles her struggles with both mental and physical disabilities during her childhood, the devastating accident that may have saved her life, and the means by which she coped with it all: writing.

  There are 13 million people with cancer in the United States, and it’s estimated that about 1.3 million of these cases are hereditary. Yet despite advanced training in cancer genetics and years of practicing medicine, Dr. Theo Ross was never certain whether the history of cancers in her family was simple bad luck or a sign that they were carriers of a cancer-causing genetic mutation. Then she was diagnosed with melanoma, and for someone with a dark complexion, melanoma made no sense. It turned out there was a genetic factor at work.

Using her own family’s story, the latest science of cancer genetics, and her experience as a practicing physician, Ross shows how to spot the patterns of inherited cancer, how to get tested for cancer-causing genes, and what to do if you have one. Theo Ross’s new book is: A Cancer in the Family. 

  In The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge described the most important breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in four hundred years: the discovery that the brain can change its own structure and function in response to mental experience—what we call neuroplasticity.

His new book, The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity ,shows how the amazing process of neuroplastic healing really works.

  Nearly seventy-five years ago, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi, became the first child diagnosed with autism. Beginning with his family’s odyssey, In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism—by liberating children from dank institutions, campaigning for their right to go to school, challenging expert opinion on what it means to have autism, and persuading society to accept those who are different.  

We speak with John Donvan and Caren Zucker.

Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

  Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. Previously he worked at The Washington Post.

He is the author of three New York Times best-sellers: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers; a collection of his New Yorker articles titled What the Dog Saw and most recently, David and Goliath

This episode was recorded live at The White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT and presented by Oblong Books and Music. 

 As a young medical student, Dr. David Casarett was inspired by the story of a two-year-old girl named Michelle Funk. Michelle fell into a creek and was underwater for over an hour. When she was found she wasn’t breathing, and her pupils were fixed and dilated. That drowning should have been fatal. But after three hours of persistent work, a team of doctors and nurses was able to bring her back. It was a miracle.

If Michelle could come back after three hours of being dead, what about twelve hours? Or twenty-four? What would it take to revive someone who had been frozen for one thousand years? And what does blurring the line between “life” and “death” mean for society? In Shocked, Casarett chronicles his exploration of the cutting edge of resuscitation and reveals just how far science has come.

The O+ Festival is a celebration of art and music that creates a bridge to access health care for artists. O+ fosters complete physical, mental and social well-being by connecting artists directly with a coalition of health care providers and health resources, in a shared vision to nurture the individual and the community.

  Among the first generation of boys prescribed medication for hyperactivity in the 1980s, Timothy Denevi took Ritalin at the age of six, and during the first week, it triggered a psychotic reaction. Doctors recommended behavior therapy, then antidepressants.

Nothing worked. As Timothy’s parents and doctors sought to treat his behavior, he was subjected to a liquid diet, a sleep-deprived EEG, and bizarre behavioral assessments before finding help in therapy combined with medication. In Hyper, Timothy describes how he makes his way through school.

  Decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids were estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 are on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise?

In his new book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, journalist Steve Silberman answers this question by peeling back the layers of medical history that radically altered the scope of autism diagnosis in the last century, and revealing the perfect storm of social forces that led to the sudden increase in diagnoses beginning in the late 1980s.

This summer, Steve’s TED Talk on The Forgotten History of Autism went live online and in less than 24 hours, it garnered over 400,000 views.

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