Holiday gift guide: Books about autism

Looking for a book about autism to give as a gift or keep for yourself? We have you covered with suggestions for 15 of the best books out there.

SILVER SPRING, Md., December 18, 2011 — Whether you are looking for a last-minute gift idea for a relative or trying to find a book to lose yourself in over the winter holidays, look no further. Autism Unexpected brings you some of our favorite books about autism, just in time to buy and read over the holidays.

Thinking Person's Guide to Autism

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: One of the best sites on the web for information about autism from parents, professionals, and autistic people themselves, the editors at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism have just published their first book featuring contributors (including the author of this column) offering many points of view. Described by the editors as “the resource we wish we’d had when autism first became part of our lives: a one-stop source for carefully curated, evidence-based information,” this book is a must-have.

My Friend with Autism by Beverly and Craig Bishop: This simple coloring book has become my go-to text to give to kids who may need help understanding my autistic son. Easy to understand and general enough that it can apply to many kids on the spectrum, this coloring book also offers additional information and resources in the back for parents or teachers to explore and explain further. 

Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins: Previously reviewed on this site, Not Even Wrong is an extraordinary exploration of both historical and personal aspects of autism.

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet: This vivid book by autistic savant Tammet not only gives the reader insight into what it might be like to live an extraordinarily brilliant life, but also what it is like to live with synesthesia—seeing numbers as shapes, colors, and textures.

Be Different by John Elder Robison: Look Me in the Eye author Robison followed up his fascinating memoir with this book that details coping strategies that have helped him be successful in life. This is a book that could be very useful to young adults and teenagers on the spectrum, as well as to others interested to learn about how it feels to be Aspergian.

Seeing Ezra

Seeing Ezra

Seeing Ezra by Kerry Cohen: In a publishing world full of memoirs about parenting autistic children, Cohen’s book stands out as a startlingly personal memoir of struggle and acceptance. Many parents of young children with autism might find parts of themselves in Cohen’s book.

One of Us by Mark Osteen: At the other end of the autism parenting spectrum is Mark Osteen’s book, which details life with a son severely affected by autism. Also previously reviewed here, Osteen’s book very explicitly lays out the details and difficulties of parenting a son with intense autism.

Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin: Perhaps the best known adult with autism, Temple Grandin has written many books. An accomplished scientist by any standard, Grandin’s exploration of the way her brain works is eye-opening and fascinating.

Dude, I’m an Aspie by Matt Friedman: This charming cartoon book is a simple explanation of Asperger’s Syndrome. Friedman describes his book as a way to explain your Asperger’s traits to others in a way that is clear and fun. Check out his blog by the same name for more of his fun and evocative cartoons about Asperger’s.

From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright: It is not technically a book about autism, but this book about navigating the special education system is so clear and important that it should be on every list read by parents who might find themselves trying to work with a school to educate their special needs child. Every family whose child has an IEP or 504 plan should own this book.

Mapping Charlie by Jane Meyerding: Looking for a fun mystery featuring an autistic main character? Look no further. This book by autistic author Meyerding (and reviewed here as well) will introduce you to the concept of faceblindness and show you what it is like to live with such a condition.

Dirt by Susan Senator: Senator is a well-known author who has written two non-fiction books about parenting her son with autism. Dirt is her first fiction book. It explores the struggle of a single suburban mom trying to raise her three sons (two typical and one autistic) amidst the messy work of life.

Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids

Wit and Wisdom from the Parents

of Special Needs Kids

Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids and Big Daddy’s Tales From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid with Autism: Both books feature writings of parents in the blogosphere who write with humor about their kids’ autism. Do you have a child with autism and think it might be helpful to laugh a little? Check out these books of essays and then follow the authors back to their personal blogs. (Big Daddy’s Tales features an essay by the author of this column.)

Gravity Pulls You In: If you’re looking for more voices from the autism parenting blogosphere with a less comical bent, this book, edited by Kyra Anderson and Vicki Forman could be for you. Full of essays from some of the best bloggers writing about autism, this book will make you realize that you are not alone.

This list is by no means comprehensive. Share in the comments what books about autism are your favorites and why. There are many of us out here who are always looking for a good book! 

Jean writes a personal blog at Stimeyland and an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey. Read more of Jean’s work at Autism Unexpected in the Communities at the Washington Times. Please credit Jean Winegardner and the “Communities at” when linking to this story.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Jean Winegardner

When Jean had her first child in 2001, "autism" was about the scariest word she could think of. Six years later when her second child was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a form of autism, she was just happy to have a word to help him get the services he needed. Her autism journey has been full of tears, laughter, love and at least one attorney.

Jean blogs about her life with her autistic son, Jack, on her blog, Stimeyland. Her two neurotypical children, Sam and Quinn (one older, one younger than Jack), make frequent appearances there as well. Also at Stimeyland? Jean's quirky sense of humor.

She also runs AutMont, an events calendar listing autism-related events in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Raising a child with special needs is hard for so many reasons, but after living with Jack, Jean wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. Come along with Jean as she experiences the joys that come with parenting a special kid.

You can email Jean anytime at stimeyland at gmail dot com or follow her on Twitter, where, as "Stimey," she offers her world view in snippets of 140 characters or less.

Contact Jean Winegardner


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