Friday, March 25, 2016

The Prodigy's Cousin - Book Review

In The Prodigy's Cousin: The Family Link Between Autism and Extraordinary Talent, psychology professor Joanne Ruthsatz and her reporter daughter Kimberly Stephens explore Ruthsatz's research into a link between children with autism and child prodigies. There appear to be many similarities between the two types of children, but do those similarities have root in genetics?

According to this book, yes they do! But then even more questions arise. Why do some children have the passionate focus of child prodigies but not the social or communication deficits of autists? Why do some child prodigies have autism in their family trees? Why are there differences in IQ test scores among child prodigies (differences in art prodigies and math prodigies, for example)? And perhaps, most interesting, can studying child prodigies further actually help scientists understand why some children have autism and others do not, thereby furthering autism research?

This isn't a book that presents research and declares the research done. Scientists are still studying autism, and it's clear that autism research has come a long way since it was first diagnosed in the 1940s. The same can be said of research into child prodigies. It's clear that more research is needed, and indeed, some of the research in this book is still being done. I'd be interested in finding out what the results of that research is once it is made available.

You don't have to be a parent of a child prodigy or autist to find the research in this book intriguing. If you enjoy learning new things, then you'll enjoy reading about the child prodigies and research findings chronicled in this book.

The Prodigy's Cousin is published by Current and is on bookstore shelves now. I received a free advance review copy for my honest review.

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