Thursday, April 02, 2020

Autism Books Everyone Should Read

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This list of autism books is perfect for parents of autistic children to learn more about how their child sees the world around them.

Even before my son was diagnosed with autism, I did a lot of reading about the diagnosis, either in the form of research or personal blog posts. But I absolutely prefer reading a physical book about the topic. In fact, I usually have a stack of four or five books about autism on my nightstand, just waiting for me to read. However, I end up reading one and then adding at least two more to the pile. So I don't see my tower of autism books decreasing any time soon.

There's just always so much to read and learn about when it comes to autism.

Thankfully, I can help narrow down your reading list by providing you with the absolute best books about autism. These books are my favorites and I hope they will become some of your favorites too.

Some are short and insightful. Some are long and detailed. Some will give you practical solutions to help your autistic child grow and thrive.

But all of these autism books are worth reading.

Sometimes more than once.

These books are meant to inspire you, help you learn more about autism, give you insight into autism from an autistic person's perspective, and to help your children learn about their own autism.

Please note that this list will be edited and added to as I discover, read, and approve of new books about autism. I have only shared those that I have personally read and that I have found helpful, interesting, and informative. I have also decided to leave books about sensory issues off of this list. You can see the list of sensory processing books here. Otherwise, the list of books would get pretty lengthy!

Books about autism

Best Books About Autism: You're Going to Definitely Want to Read These!

The Reason I Jump

1. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

By Naoki Higashida 

This book is an absolute favorite of mine when it comes to understanding autism. The insight that this book provides is fabulous and it definitely changed how I view and understand autism. Highly recommend it! Plus, it's a quick read and you can definitely read it from front to back in just a couple of hours.

Uniquely Human

2. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

By Barry M. Prizant

This book is just wonderful! It will definitely make you rethink how you see autism. A must read for everyone, whether or not you know or work with someone who has autism. If you only have time to read one book about autism, then make it this book.


3. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

By Steve Silberman

I have never preordered a book until this book came along. I was so excited to read NeuroTribes not only from a neuropsychology perspective (I wanted to be a neuropsychologist pre-children), but from an autism parent's perspective. This book is massive and beefy, but it is worth reading every single page. The research and history is extremely interesting. It's a great introduction to neurodiversity.

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking

4. Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking

By Autistic Self Advocacy Network

This book should be required reading for anyone interested in learning more about autism, whether they are a parent, a therapist, an educator, or autistic themselves. The book itself is a collection of essays written by various autistic adults. I highly recommend reading it, especially the essay, "Throw Away the Master's Tools" by Nick Walker.

Spectrums autism anthology

5. Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words

Edited by Maxfield Sparrow

This anthology is excellent. Highly highly recommend. Not only did I learn a lot of new-to-me gender related vocabulary, but I found the essays incredibly powerful. There were a couple in this book that might be some of my absolute favorite autism essays out of all the autism anthologies that I've ever read.

I think this book is a important read not only for autistic trans people, but for any parent and professional, especially since autistic people are more likely than neurotypicals to be gender diverse. 

All the Weight of Our Dreams autism anthology

6. All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism

Edited by Lydia X.Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, & Morénike Giwa Onaiwu

This anthology was absolutely incredible to read through and a must-read if you're interested in the intersectionality between autism and race. It was quite heavy emotionally to read through so don't expect to binge read this book. There are also a few essays that touch on hyperlexia (one of the editors is hyperlexic!).

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait for the revised edition as this book was recently pulled from publication due to a couple of problematic essays.

Our Autistic Lives anthology

7. Our Autistic Lives: Personal Accounts from Autistic Adults Around the World Aged 20 to 70+

Edited by Alex Ratcliffe

Curious about what it's like to grow up autistic? Well, this anthology literally takes you through the ages. There are lots of essays from late-diagnosed autistics and surprisingly a lot of essays about the hyperlexic experience too! I loved this anthology a lot. Highly recommend.

Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Children
By Dr. Luke Beardon

When I first picked this book up off the new shelf at my local library, I was skeptical that it would be any good based on the pretty boring title. But within a few pages, I knew it was going to be good! It's a relatively short read (like 130 pages), but it is jam packed with goodness. I highly recommend this book if your child is freshly diagnosed. Seriously, I couldn't stop quoting passages for it on Instagram.

Speaking for Ourselves

9. Speaking for Ourselves: Conversations on Life, Music, and Autism

By Michael B. Bakan, with contributions from actually autistic people

Music is a passion of mine, as is autism, so this book was the perfect intersection of my interests. This book features numerous interviews and conversations with actually autistic people about the impact music has on their life. It was a fascinating read, but the section about Autistic vs. autistic (yes, just a simple capitalization difference!) was incredibly eye opening for me. I highly recommend this book if you're interested in both music and autism.

Asperger's Children autism book

10. Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna

By Edith Sheffer

This book is excellent and I do highly recommend reading it, but you have to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to read it. Given the topic, it's obviously intense and heavy. It will shock you, make you cry, and just break your heart. But I do feel like it's absolutely a must-read. 

M is for Autism

11. M is for Autism

By The Students of Limpsfield Grange School and Vicky Martin

A lovely read about an autistic teenage girl, this book is relatively short, but is SO good. Definitely a great read if you have an autistic girl!

The Obsessive Joy of Autism

12. The Obsessive Joy of Autism

By Julia Bascom

This book is more of an illustrated poem or picture book more than anything, but it's beautiful. It explores the beauty of autistic obsessions, which I found interesting and insightful. It takes only a few minutes to read, so it might be a book you pick up from the library instead of purchasing. Regardless, it is definitely worth the read.

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8

13. Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism

By Naoki Higashida

A follow up to The Reason I Jump, this book takes you inside a nonverbal young man's world. Once again, his insight into autism is incredibly fascinating to read about. If you enjoyed the first book, then definitely check this one out too!

This anthology of essays is written by - yep, you guessed it - autistics who type, point, and spell to communicate. There are essays written by kids, teens, and adults of all ages. I actually found that my favorite essays were all ones written by kids and teens. This book is a good read if you are wanting to know more about the experience of non-speaking autistics.


15. Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women

By Sarah Bargiela

A graphic novel that focuses on how autism presents in women. It is a bit shorter than I had hoped, but it is an interesting read nonetheless. It could be nice book to share with an autistic teenage girl or a female who has been recently diagnosed as an adult.

Born on a Blue Day

16. Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

By Daniel Tammet

Daniel is autistic, has synesthesia, and numbers are his jam. His memoir was extremely interesting to read about. He learns languages fluently, in as little time as a week. He even memorized more than 22,000 digits of pi.

How to Raise a Happy Autistic Child

17. Autism: How to Raise a Happy Autistic Child

By Jessie Hewitson

This book is more geared towards UK parents, but there is so much to like about this book. I think it's best just to use bullet points so here we go:

  • The author consulted with actually autistic adults during the writing of it
  • It covers topics like autism in girls, autism in ethnic minorities, and mental health, which are rarely explored in other autism books
  • Its use of identity first language throughout
  • It includes lots of practical strategies
  • Its overall positive view on autism

The Anti-Romantic Child

18. The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy

By Priscilla Gilman

There aren't many books written about hyperlexia, unfortunately. I, however, found myself relating to this book so much as her son and mine have the same diagnoses. This book has some issues, but overall, I found it an interesting read.

Stack of autism books

Other Autism Books that are Highly Recommended

The books in this section have been highly recommended to me. However, I haven't personally read them yet. They are on my reading list though and I hope I get to read them soon.

Ido in Autismland

1. Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism's Silent Prison

By Ido Kedar

The Edge of the Playground

2. The Edge of the Playground: Two Stories, One Journey: A Mother and Daughter's Memoir of Autism from Childhood to Adulthood

By Mary Lynn Ackerman Willis & Mikhaela Ackerman

Communication Alternatives in Autism

3. Communication Alternatives in Autism: Perspectives on Typing and Spelling Approaches for the Nonspeaking

By Edlyn Vallejo Pena

Other Autism Book Lists You Might Enjoy

Looking for something geared towards younger children or teens? Or maybe you want to learn more about neurodiversity or which books to avoid...Then you'll definitely want to check out these autism book lists as well:

Autism books that everyone should read

Autism books that everyone should read