Autistic Intelligence – new organisation

February 5, 2011

Can I draw your attention to a new organisation, Autistic Intelligence, launched by Barbara Jacobs, of which I am one of the founding members?

Named after an expression used by Hans Asperger to describe the way people on the autism spectrum think, it is a loosely affiliated group of world-wide experts in aspects of autism acting as a consultancy. Some of us are writers, some are educators, some are therapists, some are researchers, some are campaigners. Many of us are all of those things. And there’s something else that marks us out from those who claim to know about the autism spectrum. It’s that all of us have personal experience. Some are on the spectrum, some are parents of children on the spectrum, some partners, some have autism in the family.

In recent years, we’ve noted the extraordinarily rapid growth of knowledge about, and research into, autism. Yet those who need to share these new and exciting findings may be working from outdated material. Sometimes courses and training are delivered which haven’t kept pace with current thinking. That’s where we can help. We’re, if you like, a think tank. We can offer support, training materials, recorded and live presentations, consultancy, course design and can even arrange a conference for you. We’ve affiliated because we learn from each other and would like to share that learning with you, and for you to pass it on. We work internationally, nationally and locally, informed by and supportive of each other’s ongoing work, fired by our dedication to a global recognition and accommodation of autistic intelligence.

On May 6, 2011, Autistic Intelligence presents its first  international conference on autism at the Grand Hotel in Torquay, UK.  The speakers are:

Professor Tony Attwood, and colleague at the Minds and Hearts autism clinic, Brisbane, Australia, Dr Michelle Garnett. Professor Attwood is the acknowledged world expert in Asperger’s syndrome, who visits the UK only once each year.

Dr Olga Bogdashina, lecturer, author, researcher, Consultant Psychologist and founder of the first day centre for autism in the Ukraine. Now resident in the UK, Olga is an expert in sensory/perceptual processing in autism. She is the mother of a young man with autism.

Dr Wendy Lawson, from Victoria, Australia, is herself on the autism spectrum, and has researched many topics in the autism field. The most recent of these is on single attention in autism and its implications for learning.

This promises to be an exciting and informative event for those on the spectrum, their parents, and all professionals who may come into contact with people on the autism spectrum.


The Devonshire Suite, The Grand Hotel
8.30-9.00 Registration . Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served.
9.00 – 9.15 Welcome. Barbara Jacobs, academic, author and co-ordinator of Autistic Intelligence.
9.15 – 10.15 Wendy Lawson The reality of living and learning for those on the autism spectrum
10.15  – 10.35 Break, with tea, coffee and biscuits
10.35 – 12.05 Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett Diagnosis, assessment and follow-up procedures at the Hearts and Minds clinic.
12.05 – 1.05 Buffet lunch in the Gainsborough Restaurant
1.05 – 2.35 Olga Bodgsdashina Aspects of sensory/perceptual processing in autism
2.35 – 2.55 Break, with tea, coffee and biscuits
2.55 – 4.25 Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett Managing emotions and challenging behaviour for those on the autism spectrum
4.30 – 5.00 Panel. The speakers will take questions from delegates.
The conference will end promptly at 5.00, but delegates may wish to visit the bar or terrace overlooking the sea.
Delegates will be able to buy books and may wish to have them signed by the authors.

To find out more about tickets and pricing, please go to

For details of what we can do for your organisation, place of learning, your department, big or small, please email us today.

Autistic Intelligence
call:    07971 471 617

Awares site to be re-launched shortly

February 5, 2011

Autism Cymru’s pioneering bilingual website, Awares, to be

re-launched shortly


Awares – the pioneering bilingual website started up by Autism Cymru, Wales’ national charity, in December 2002 – will be re-launched shortly.  At its 2002 launch, the then Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, Jane Hutt, called Awares a key building block in the establishment of the unique national autism strategy in Wales.


The new-look Awares, edited by Adam Feinstein – who also runs the highly acclaimed Awares annual international online autism conference and edits Autism Cymru’s international web portal, AutismConnect – will be better than ever. The new structure will allow the administrators more immediate access to, and control over, all aspects of the site, allowing it to be updated at the touch of a button. It will keep users fully informed of the very latest autism research findings, news and views and facilities to provide vital assistance to people with autism, their relatives, hands-on practitioners and medical staff in Wales.


Awares will continue to host monthly on-line seminars where users have the unprecedented opportunity to put their questions directly to top experts from the world of autism.  Previous presenters at these seminars have included Lorna Wing and Donna Williams. A separate discussion forum will allow users to exchange views with each other on a wide range of issues. There will also be blogs by a variety of contributors.


The new site includes an on-line library with video- and audio-clips of presentations by leading world autism authorities, in-depth and up-to-the-moment articles on many issues – such as diagnosis, sensory problems and the latest thinking on Asperger’s syndrome – and a special section on autism and the criminal justice system. There will also be information on training, including details of Deis-Cyfle – a three-day  training package and self-evaluation tool developed jointly by Autism Cymru and the Irish Society with the aim of increasing employability and providing greater opportunities for school leavers with autism spectrum disorder.


There will also be a list of the events being organised by Autism Cymru and a section featuring useful links, including ways of contacting local authorities and schools in Wales.


For more information about this unique and invaluable online resource for Wales, please contact Adam Feinstein at


Autism2010 – Awares international online autism conference – extended for a final week, until December 5, 2010, due to public demand

November 27, 2010

Due to popular demand, I have decided to extend Autism2010 – the annual Awares international online autism conference – once again for a final week, until December 5, 2010. You can join in the lively discussions right now. Autism2010 is the sixth international online autism conference to be held within the AWARES conference centre, at

All of the presenters’ papers are available on the site for you to read. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen has called this “the finest online conference on the planet.”

The online conference is run, as every year, by the Editor of Awares, Adam Feinstein, and hosted by Autism Cymru, Wales’ National Charity for Autism. Yet again, an unprecedented list of more than sixty of the world’s top autism authorities have agreed to take part and you have a unique opportunity to put your questions directly to them online in the Discussion forum.

There’s an outstanding line-up of speakers for this year’s conference. They include several prominent people on the autistic spectrum – Donna Williams, Wendy Lawson, Liane Holliday Willey, Jesse Saperstein, Jeffrey Deutsch, Mark Ty-Wharton and Arman Khodaei – as well as leading researchers such as Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor Susan Leekam, Dr Darold Treffert (Darold is the world’s leading expert on autistic savants – in fact he coined the term – and was a chief adviser on the film Rain Man), Dr Connie Kasari and Dr Peter Mundy; top educationalists like Professor Rita Jordan and Professor Gary Mesibov and key world autism advocates such as Merry Barua in India.

You can also, of course, exchange views with other delegates on the wide range of topics which include: Voices from the spectrum, sensory issues, socialisation, screening and diagnosis, lobbying and advocacy, education, behaviour problems, Asperger’s syndrome, brain studies, genetics, immunology, adolescents and adults, psychology, biomedical approaches, related conditions, language issues, legislation and savant syndrome.

Please let anyone else know who might be interested. The Awares international online conference is always a stimulating, entertaining and informative event.

Awares is the pioneering website of Autism Cymru, Wales’s national charity for autism.

Best wishes, Adam Feinstein

New Urdu PDF edition of Looking Up is out now

August 17, 2010
The PDF edition of my international autism newsletter, Looking Up (Volume 5, Number 1), has now been
translated into Urdu.
This issue should also be available shortly in Hindi and Chinese.
Best wishes,
Adam Feinstein

Praise for my new autism book

July 5, 2010

‘No one has attempted to write the history of autism so comprehensively before. Adam Feinstein’s highly readable but remarkably thorough book contains a treasure-trove of conversations with the scientists, clinicians, lobbyists, and parents who have shaped the development of autism in both research and policy. The timing of this book is opportune, as the pioneer generation become ’emeritus’. History-telling is never wholly objective, but Feinstein (the science-writer, parent, and international conference organizer) is better placed than almost anyone to document the extraordinary changes that have happened to the autism community world-wide since the 1940s onwards. This book is an important contribution to the history of medicine and a unique resource for future generations who will build on their predecessors. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University

“The material in A History of Autism is selected and worded with such enthusiasm, such personal engagement, that it is contagious. I couldn’t stop reading. This book is a monument; a milestone that we all owe to autism’s history.”
Theo Peeters, Centre for Training in Autism, Belgium

“From the many years before Kanner’s 1943 description when the condition was known by other names, through all that has happened to the present time, along with; a glimpse of the future, Feinstein explores the evolutionary journey of autism in an enlightened, educational, and entertaining fashion. Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive, carefully documented and eminently readable account of the history of autism than this book.”
Darold A. Treffert, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School, USA

“Adam Feinstein provides an essential historical context for autism; one of the most contentious childhood diagnoses today. This is a grounding book for those ready to look beyond pet theories, ‘magic bullets’ and ‘treatment of the day’. This book will navigate you beyond the idea of any ‘one autism’ and leave you with the clarity, hope and opportunity for new directions inherent in that realization.”
Donna Williams, Dip Ed, BA Hons, author and autism consultant

“Of interest to researchers, clinicians and parents, this volume provides a detailed perspective on the history of autism and related disorders. Writing from the perspective of a parent, Adam Feinstein brings the people and concepts vividly to life in this insightful and comprehensive book.”
Fred R. Volkmar, Irving B. Harris Professor and Director, Child Study Center Yale University, USA

“The field of autism has been in need of a solid historical account of the many changes since Kanner first coined the term autism in 1943, and Feinstein’s book finally fills that gap. His novel approach of telling the story of autism through interviews with the pioneers, their associates, and their family members is creative and fascinating. What wonderful stories these people tell, how well the author passes the stories on, and what a terrific way to relate the history of the field. Feinstein’s deep understanding of the field leads to excellent questions and penetrating discussions. This wonderful combination will be irresistible to anyone interested in how the field got to where it is now and where it might be going.”
Gary B. Mesibov, Professor, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, USA

“This book outlines, from an unusual point of view, the history of the development of the concept of the spectrum of autistic conditions. The author’s account is brought to life in fascinating detail by his interviews with leading professionals (or their children, who survive them), parents, and adults with autistic conditions. He reveals the controversies between professionals and the problems that still exist for families in different countries, as well as the progress that has been made. A book to be highly recommended to anyone with an interest in autism.”
Lorna Wing, Honorary Consultant to the National Autistic Society, UK

“Adam Feinstein’s book is a valuable contribution to the autism literature. No other author has sought out the important scientific contributors to autism research; it is fascinating to read their current views, as well as a summary of their original contributions.”
Susan E. Folstein, Professor of Psychiatry, John P. Hussman Institute of Human Genomics, USA

“The story of autism only began remarkably recently. In this unique book you can listen to the voices of the opinion makers and learn what they thought about autism in times past and present. Pioneers who pushed the boundaries of knowledge since autism was first identified talk freely about their ideas and experiences.”
Uta Frith, University College London

“This is a remarkable, beautifully written work, which is destined to become a classic for the field. Feinstein takes a highly original approach to charting progress in our understanding of this enigmatic developmental disorder through interviews with researchers and community pioneers from around the world. This unique book is a must-read for scholars, students, parents and professionals; it provides a balanced and historical perspective on what we know and what we don’t yet know about autism. +9It leaves the reader with a strong sense of accomplishment about how far we have come through the partnership of families and researchers. I came away with genuine optimism that our ability to transform the lives of millions of children and adults with autism from around the world will be achieved in the near future, with the help of visionaries like Adam Feinstein!”
Helen Tager-Flusberg, Boston University, US

My book on the history of autism was launched in London last Monday, June 28, 2010

July 5, 2010

Just to say that my new book,  A History of Autism:  Conversations with the Pioneers, published by Wiley-Blackwell, was launched at London’s Royal Society of Medicine last Monday, June 28, 2010.  It was a wonderful occasion, co-hosted by Dame Stephanie Shirley (who had financed the whole book so generously) and Autism Cymru, Wales’s remarkable national charity for autism. The guests included the likes of that true autism pioneer, Lorna Wing, and her colleague, Judy Gould (with whom she worked on the celebrated 1979 Camberwell study which led to their introduction of the concept of the autistic spectrum). Lorna, of course, also  coined the term Asperger’s sydrome in 1981. During the three years it took me to research and write my book, I travelled the globe to talk to the earliest professionals and parents who have played such a key role in broadening our understanding of the enigmatic condition which is autism. They included Leo Kanner’s closest colleague, Leon Eisenberg;  Hans Asperger’s daughter, Maria Asperger Felder, and some of his closest colleagues;  and the UK parent-pioneers  such as Lorna Wing and Michael Baron , as well as Professor Sir Michael Rutter (who is, of course, among the world’s leading autism experts but who also came on board very early in the 1960s to help Britain’s fledgling National Autistic Society).  I learnt about the  stigma still clinging to autism in parts of China, India, Mexico and elsewhere, but also about the promising research advances being made around the world.  I very much hope my book helps to demonstrate the major progress we have made in understanding the complexities of  autism but also where the continuing shortcomings lie.

Adam Feinstein

Looking Up Volume 5 Number 2 out now

May 14, 2010


Just to let you know that the latest issue (Volume 5, Number 2) of Looking Up, my 40-page international autism newsletter (, is out now.

Contents of this latest edition include:

– The death of Kim Peek, the ‘real Rain Man’ – a profile of this extraordinary man and a tribute from his close friend, Dr Darold Treffert, the world’s leading expert on autistic savants and an adviser on the 1988 movie, Rain Man
– The full story of why The Lancet decided to retract Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 MMR paper
– Is it possible to recover from autism?  Dr Deborah Fein’s latest study suggests it is – and so does Raun Kaufman (see his comments to Looking Up in this issue)
– Donna Williams:  ‘Why my feet were my eyes’
– Gary McKinnon update:  Extradition to the US put on hold. Comments from the psychiatrist, Professor Jeremy Turk, whose medical report on McKinnon influenced the British government’s decision
– UK Autism Act is given Royal Assent
– As latest study puts autism prevalence at 1 per cent, ten ‘clusters’ are identified in California
– Autistic student stamps his mark on the postal service
– The bizarre case of Molly, the ‘autistic’ dog in Italy.  Comments from Dr Lorna Wing
– Running the toughest foot race on Earth – for autism
– Why hundreds of butterflies were released in a park in El Salvador
– New autism association for Algeria
– Jenny McCarthy splits from Jim Carrey, her ‘autism whisperer’
EDUCATION:  Autistic children ‘are being unfairly excluded from schools’ –  Comments from the study’s lead author, Professor David Skuse
AUTISM IN ASIA:    Ridicule in the Philippines, Tales of tears and rewards in Indonesia and Merry Barua on why India’s ‘new’ screening tool for autism is not new at all
AUTISM AND THE ARTS:   Hugh Dancy on how he prepared for the role of a man with Asperger’s syndrome in the film, Adam

Looking Up, which I founded in 1998, publishes the very latest research, news and vews from the world of autism. Further details, as well as selected free articles, can be found on the website at:

By popular request, a 16-page PDF edition of Looking Up is now available, starting with Volume 5, Number 1. The PDF edition consists of selected articles from the full 40-page print edition.

For more information, see the PDF edition web page at

Please feel free to e-mail me at for more information.

Best wishes,

Adam Feinstein

Poetry for Haiti – reading on Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 27, 2010

Just to let you know that there will be a poetry reading in London this Saturday (January 30, 2010), starting at 2.30 pm to raise money for the victims of the terrible earthquake in Haiti. The event has been organised at short notice by the Poet Laurate, Carol Ann Duffy, and will feature the participation of twenty leading poets, including my mother, Elaine Feinstein, and Andrew Motion, Carol Ann’s predecessor as Poet Laureate. The event will take place at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, SW1H 9NH (telephone: 020 7222 8010). It’s opposite the Houses of Parliament – near Westminster Tube. Bear in mind that the Jubilee Line will be out on Saturday but the District Line is running normally, as far as I know. Tickets cost £10 and can be purchased online from the website of the Hay Festival (which is supporting the event) at or you can pay on the door, but I’m told that, if you decide to pay when you arrive, you have to do so with cash only. All proceeds go to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

Adam Feinstein

Looking Up autism articles available online December 2009

December 19, 2009
Selected free articles from Looking Up can be found on the
website at:
including three new additions this month:
‘Autism and wine-making – a natural fit’
Abuse of word ‘autism’ banned in Portuguese Parliament
Britain agrees to extradite Asperger’s hacker to US

My work on Pablo Neruda

November 8, 2009

One of my other main fields is Hispanic studies.  My previous book – before the one on the history of autism – was a biography of the great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. That book – Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life – was published by Bloomsbury in the UK and the USA in 2004.  I have given talks on Neruda around the world, and have also written in Spanish and Latin American literature for many publications, including the Guardian.