When he was four years old Kamran Nazeer was enrolled in a small school in New York alongside other children diagnosed with autism. Here they received care that was at the cutting edge of developmental psychology. Kamran is now a policy adviser in Whitehall - but what of the others? With rare perception, he tells of their lives: the speechwriter ...Read MoreWhen he was four years old Kamran Nazeer was enrolled in a small school in New York alongside other children diagnosed with autism. Here they received care that was at the cutting edge of developmental psychology. Kamran is now a policy adviser in Whitehall - but what of the others? With rare perception, he tells of their lives: the speechwriter unable to make eye contact, the courier who gets upset if anyone touches his bicycle, the suicidal depressive, and the computer engineer who communicates difficult emotions through the use of hand puppets.Read Less
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In the early 80's when Kamran Nazeer was four years old, he attended a small private school in New York that was one of the first of its kind, designed to help children with autism. Twenty years later, Nazeer seeks out his former classmates (and one of his teachers). Out of a dozen, he connects with three who allow him to visit them, and the family of a fourth (who had committed suicide). Nazeer takes us with him into the daily lives of four individuals with autism: a speechwriter, bicycle messenger, pianist and a computer engineer. Each with their own individual quirks, personal trials and significant accomplishments. His exploration of autism is full of reflection on his own experience, compassionate inquiry into how autistic people relate to the world, surprising insights into how relationships work and examination of how exactly we connect with one another through language, gesture and unspoken rules of courtesy. This book is a fascinating look into what it is that makes us human.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-02-06 Nazeer, a successful British government policy adviser, was diagnosed early on with autism; he now seeks out the fate of four autistic classmates at his former New York City school. He first encountered the "idiots" (as one of them called the group) more than 20 years ago, in an unnamed private school that has subsequently closed. In addition to interviewing the former pupils, all but one (who committed suicide) enjoying varying degrees of success in the greater world, Nazeer also visits the school's former director and special-needs teacher to learn how teaching autistic students has evolved. Considered a neurobiological disorder, autism largely confines a child to his or her own mental world. Andre, for example, living in Boston with his sister, became a competent computer researcher and manages to mediate the challenges of ordinary conversation through the use of a puppet. Randall, a courier in Chicago, demonstrates how early "parallel" play led to a satisfying love relationship (developing empathy is difficult for the autistic). Craig became an accomplished speechwriter until his awkward social skills derailed him, while Elizabeth immersed herself in playing the piano before withdrawing completely. Nazeer delicately interweaves his own story of being "cured" for an enlightening journey through the unreachable mind. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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