July 26th, 2018




New Oxford U. Press Book by Autism Research Pioneer Exposes the Social and Political Vulnerabilities of the Autism Community, Recommends a New Way Forward


San Francisco, CAIncreasing numbers of autism diagnoses. Hysteria around vaccines. The mystique of the autistic savant… Amid so much buzz about autistic spectrum disorders (ASDds) there’s painfully little focus on how we can better support children with autism and their families right now. Today.


Enter distinguished autism scientist Bryna Siegel, Ph.D., who has devoted her career to seeking solutions to these immediate issues. In her new book, The Politics of Autism (Oxford University Press, September 3, 2018), Siegel examines our culture’s ideas about autism and the reasons for the misconceptions driving counter-productive decision-making in both the public and the private realms.


The Politics of Autism also exposes just how vulnerable the autism community remains from a political and social perspective. Treatment options and choices about the futures of individuals with ASDs are often driven by deeply flawed policies and regulations, the book explains. This has led to misguided priorities that neglect the real needs of most individuals and families living with autism.


From the diagnosis process and its impact on access to services, to flaws in autism education programs and treatments, The Politics of Autism offers a 360 degree look at the contradictions and misinformation obstructing the way to a more constructive dialogue and effective solutions.


The book does a deep dive on the following topics, among many others:

  • What is fake news about autism, and what’s real?
  • Real reasons the number of autism diagnoses is increasing.
  • Why “full inclusion” and “core curriculum” emphases in autism education may be inappropriate and even harmful.
  • Why we should ditch traditional academic curriculum for most with ASDs, instead focusing on independence and vocational skills to help prevent ASDs adult unemployment (which is rampant).
  • What’s behind excessive costs of some autism treatments, and how can it be changed?
  • How the Internet lures parents into trying miracle ‘medicines,’ creates myths and disinformation, and can result in disillusionment when costly fake cures don’t work.
  • Unpacking the vaccine wars - and why vaccines do not cause autism.


Ultimately, The Politics of Autism argues that we can do much better. Reaching into the very depths of identity politics, Siegel recommends a sensible, policy- and science- based way forward.


Praise for The Politics of Autism

This excellent book is very timely, important, and relevant. It is wonderful to have all of these extremely important issues presented in such a cogent and compelling fashion. Siegel is someone who is never afraid to walk out on that limb and say things that others will not say and which may be unpopular. She speaks the truth, like it or not. This book will anger some people while giving solace to others. This is a book people will definitely talk about. I love it.

Laura Schreibman, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego


With 40 years of contributions to the field, Dr. Siegel offers a scientifically informed, pragmatic, long term view on the unmet needs of children and adults with autism and how the politics of autism have failed them. Dr. Siegel suggests reasonable and practical measures to optimize intervention and support for the individual child and his family that we should take seriously. The issues raised in The Politics of Autism extend much beyond autism and should be of interest to a larger audience of families whose children have been affected by different types of disability.


Eric Fombonne, MD, Oregon Health & Science University, Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Autism Research, Institute on Development & Disability


An illuminating treatise on an important and poorly understood subject, Bryna Siegel’s The Politics of Autism explores the many ways that diagnosis and treatment of the condition have gone wrong. This is a vital resource, written by an expert guide who shares knowledge and experience garnered from more than forty years of working with autistic people.


Foreword Reviews


About Bryna Siegel

Dr. Bryna Siegel, author of The Politics of Autism (Oxford University Press, 2018), is founder and Executive Director of the Autism Center of Northern California. A retired Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, her career spans 40 years of working on autism diagnosis, education, and treatment. Her interest in the politics of autism grows from years of research and  involvement in the lives of families living with autism. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.



Title: The Politics of Autism

Author: Bryna Siegel

Hardcover: $29.95

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0199360995

ISBN-13: 978-0199360994

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