New Book Explores Autism From the First Case to Today

ABC News correspondent John Donvan and former producer Caren Zucker release new book, "In A Different Key: The Story of Autism."
5:35 | 01/18/16

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Transcript for New Book Explores Autism From the First Case to Today
They should have had that reunion today. We'll switch gears and turn to autism. It has touched so many of our lives and our ABC news colleagues John donvan and Caren zuker have poured their experience into a new book, in a different key, the story of autism. We'll talk to them after this look from their stories. John donvan and Caren Zucker were not stranger to autism. What do you call this progress? A miracle? No. Because this is autism where progress made in barely preacceptable steps. You're the best. And hard work has to take the place of miracles. Her son was diagnosed at age 2. And Donovan's brother-in-law has autism. But for the correspondent he thought he had seen it all the autism was tough going. Parents don't want cameras there when their kids are acting up. Breathe. But an episode like this is the raw truth of living with autism. They introduced us to kids with autism learning to surf. A tale of love. Do you like her. I love her. You love her? But there's a problem. But she don't love me back. And stories of how a parent's sacrifice, hard work and love can pay off. 90% of the words he has we taught him. How much is one word worth. Every word is price less. Great to have them here with us this morning. Welcome back to "Gma." We touched on your personal experience in the piece right there. But in so many ways the book is the story of a parents' crusade to get this condition paid attention to. Absolutely. I mean, it's not just about autism. It's about parental love. What would any parent do for their child. They would do anything. And you show it in action. Offfirst did this special back in 2001 and one out of every 500 kids diagnosed with autism and now 1 in every 45. Is there an epidemic? It's not clear that there is. The truth is we don't know because we're always comparing apples and Orange. The definition has changed so much and where we come out on the science on this is that we don't know if there is an epidemic and don't know if there's not an epidemic but we also think it shouldn't matter when we decide whether or not to respond to the needs of people in the autism community. Shouldn't matter whether there's an epidemic or not. We should try to focus on the fact they need respect support and inclusive of them. You debunk a lot of the bad science. And there has been a lot. I was starting to look back and hear about these refrigerator moms. The theory kids got autism because their moms were too cold. Already the families are under such stress to take care of their kids and they're giving all their heart and soul and now being blamed for it. And it's just crazy. I was talking to you before we came on. I think one of my most contentious interviews on "Gma" was with Andrew Wakefield. The man who made this link between autism and vaccines and that caused so much -- so many problems. It was a bad episode in the story of autism. In that it eroded trust and science and got people to stop vaccinating their kids with bad consequences consequences. It was worth asking in the beginning but then it was answered and yet kept going. The only thing that we can say that it had in a positive way is it certainly made people more aware of autism than ever before. But that's about it. Your story opens with the first man diagnosed with autism. He's still alive. And our friend. An extraordinary guy. He is the example of what -- how good a life can be having autism if your community embraces you. Which is so much of what we're trying to say in the book. His community embraces him as an example, the first time we went down to Mississippi this town and started talking to people, they say we'll talk about Donald but if you hurt this guy, we know where you live. What does that mean to have a community embraced? We think about it in kids but somebody that lived with it their whole looicives, what does that mean? John and I tell this story about what happens on the bus. Yeah. The little thing happened in 2007. A young man on a bus with autism. In New Jersey. He starts making noises and rocking in his feet and behind him two guys start picking on him saying buddy, cut it out. What's your problem, man. Then all of a sudden this passenger jumps up and says what's your problem? He has autism. Why don't you back off! The whole bus gets behind him and the person they don't want there anymore is this guy and the bullies lose out. And that's what we are trying to do with the book. What we want people to walk away with. If we have people's backs who are different, my son's, anybody who is different, you can change the world. I mean it sounds cliche but that's how I feel. But you show it in the book and your passion shines through. Thanks for coming in. Thanks. You can read an excerpt from the book and go on goodmorningamerica.com on Yahoo. Down to Lara. To 13 hours, the new film

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