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Diagnosing Jefferson: Evidence of a Condition That Guided His Beliefs, Behavior, and Personal Associations Hardcover – August 1, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This book is fantastic! Talent and intellectual giftedness is often associated with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. There is a continuum from normal to abnormal. A small amount of these traits can provide an advantage in being able to think objectively. Thomas Jefferson used these advantages when helping to create our system of government.”
Dr. Temple Grandin

 



“This work is important on three levels. It presents evidence to substantiate the hypothesis that Thomas Jefferson exhibited symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome….To parents, educators and caregivers who deal with children with Asperger’s Syndrome the book offers hope, reliable information and invaluable experience-based guidance.”
Dr. Richard P. McCormick, Professor Emeritus in History, Rutgers University

 

About the Author

Temple Grandin earned her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois, went on to become an associate professor at Colorado State University, and wrote two books on autism, including the seminal ""Thinking in Pictures."" One of the most celebrated -- and effective -- animal advocates on the planet, Grandin revolutionized animal movement systems and spearheaded reform of the quality of life for the world's agricultural animals.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Future Horizons (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1885477600
  • ISBN-13: 978-1885477606
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book has meant a lot to me as a teenager with an Asperger condition.
My Dad called my attention to it and said jokingly, "Maybe you'll learn a little history." But I also learned about myself, reading about so many things that bothered Tom Jefferson that also bothered me. Thanks to this book, they don't bother me anywhere near as much as they used to.
I'm proud we shared many of the same "quirks."
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent first stop for newly-diagnosed adults to make. It is also a fascinating, fresh look at history.

I like the way Ledgin explains autism and autism-spectrum behaviors. To his credit, he recognizes autism as the neurobiological condition that it is and provides examples taken from Jefferson's own life to illustrate the claim Jefferson was on the spectrum. Autism and its related condition, Asperger's Syndrome affect sensory integration, communication and social skills. A lack of social intuition is also part of a/A spectrum behaviors. Ledgin used his son's behavior as an example to show the glaring similarities between the child's behavior and that of the late president. I found that a very interesting premise that sparked the writing of this book.

Many people with autism, adults in particular will feel a bond with Jefferson and find that having a place on the a/A spectrum is not a stigmatizing life sentence. While autism presents a series of major challenges, it does not mean individuals who have it are incapable of major accomplishments, professionally, romantically and even socially.

Autism consists of compensations. One major example given is Jefferson's mastery of the written language. He was not a noted speaker, but his extraordinary writing skills more than made up for that. He also appeared to celebrate and embrace his own individuality and recognize this as an important part of himself. That is what celebrating the Autism Experience is all about.

Ledgin has served multi-purposes with this book. It is well researched and documented. Ledgin also looks at Jefferson from a very different perspective and provides a bird's eye view of autism in his explanations and descriptions of spectrum behaviors.

And yeah, he masterfully instills pride in readers with autism who come across this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I would recommend it for the serious student of Asperger's Syndrome. Parents and professionals should encourage the person with Asperger's to read this in order to recognise the value such individuals have, and have had, in our society. There are genuine heros with Asperger's Syndrome.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Mr. Ledgin's book, Diagnosing Jefferson, on several levels, both as an educator who deals with students on all points of the special education continuum and as an historian. Since Thomas Jefferson has so recently been in the spotlight due to the allegations of his relationship with Sally Hemmings, it was fascinating to have a more thorough understanding of his often bizarre and unpredictable behavior and the reasons behind it. My empathy for Jefferson increased and it spurred my interest in reading more about him. For parents of children with Aspergers, Mr. Ledgin offers valuable insights on how to deal with the "system" and for the children themselves this book could not help but be a boost to their self-esteem to know that many famous people perservered despite their limitations.
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Format: Hardcover
Norm Ledgin's Diagnosing Jefferson is a "heavy" read, thoroughly researched in academic fashion. It discusses the many, many traits and quirks that have puzzled all major Jefferson historians for years...and Ledgin has finally tackled the only possible answer for such behavior and attitudes. The book also gives an excellent overview of just what is Asperger's Syndrome. The point of the book is well-taken by those who have children with Asperger's, i.e. "look what you can grow up to be; Asperger's doesn't have to be a detriment, but rather an asset." More such splendid role models are sure to be found in the future. Others suspected of having Asperger's: Microsoft's Bill Gates, artist Vincent Van Gogh, publisher Joseph Pulitzer, late comedian Andy Kaufman....Diagnosing Jefferson is a "must-read" for Jefferson historians as well as those looking for inspiration in understanding and developing the special talents of those with Asperger's.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides great insight into Thomas Jefferson. Talent and intellectual giftedness is often associated with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. There is a continuum from normal to abnormal. A small amount of autism traits can provide an advantage. One of these advantages is being able to think objectively, which Thomas Jefferson used to his advantage when he helped to develop our system of government.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read Mr. Ledgin's book, and I've read several Jefferson biographies. Obviously the critics of this author have not read Diagnosing Jefferson through, and they have admitted as much. Intellectual integrity requires more.
The author has examined and exploited helpfully something all other biographers have missed--the opportunity to identify whatever the basis may have been for Jefferson's many idiosyncrasies and so-called contradictions. Had the biographers simply assembled the quirks puzzling them and discussed them with a neuroscientist or developmental pediatrician or psychologist, they would have arrived at the same conclusion Mr. Ledgin has given us.
A staff member for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Dianne Swann-Wright, admitted on the Today show last year, "there was a personal side of Thomas Jefferson that many of us just simply haven't been able to understand." Mr. Ledgin explains that personal side in order to help us understand. Does intellectual curiosity extend only so far as scratching one's head, or are historians ready to listen to well-reasoned answers based in careful research?
I heard Mr. Ledgin speak in Charlottesville, Va., at the Festival of the Book this year. He is more knowledgeable about the very personal side of Thomas Jefferson than most, if not all, the biographers whose works I've read. It should be obvious to a reader of his entire work, including his bibliography and footnotes, that he has examined the Jefferson literature thoroughly, which is what he wrote was the basis for his assembling the eccentricities. His placing of Jefferson on the autism/Asperger's continuum as a result has been backed by at least four experts in that field and another in the behavioral sciences.
This is a landmark work.
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