Over the past 13 years, I’ve read a lot of autism books. Some were truly helpful, others not so much, and some down-right awful. Especially when a child has just been diagnosed with autism, the parents are desperate for good information. And there’s a ton out there–overwhelmingly so. To be of help and to narrow down the options for a good starting point, I’d like to share four of the most helpful autism books I’ve read so far.
Obviously, my recommendations are subjective. They’re my opinion. But I resonate with autism books that offer solid, practical advice. I’m not interested in suppositions, backlashing, and autism horror stories. You’d be surprised at how many books exist with these purposes in mind. Instead, I want facts, effective coping skills, and hope. If this is also you, then I think you’ll really like this short starter list.
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Practical Help in Autism Books
Bill Nason is often my go-to guy for sound advice on autism. I recommend both of his autism books, The Autism Discussion Page, (affiliate) book 1 and book 2. The first covers core issues dealing with autism. The second adds insight for parenting strategies. They’re available on kindle and paperback. Reading both books, I gained so much insight. Since the books contain extensive information, you may at first want to skim the table of contents to gain an overall feel for what’s available. You can also jump around and read what’s most applicable to your situation, going back to read other parts later. Keep a highlighter and pen nearby for note taking. (Obviously, I recommend you buy the hard copy.) Take Bill’s suggestions and see how you can personalize them for your child. By the way, I also recommend his Facebook page, from which he’s compiled these two books. If you ask him questions on the page, he will likely take the time to answer them.
I wish I’d had 1001 Great Ideas . . . when my son was younger. We can still implement some of the ideas shared, but this book is best purchased by parents of pre-teens and hopefully younger children. The book is hands-on helpful. For instance, on page 81, there’s one of many quick tips highlighted throughout the book: “Ask your speech language pathologist for a set of activities related to your child’s IEP goals that you can do at home.” It’s not rocket science, but I’ll bet most parents of a child with autism have not thought to do this. “How to create a visual schedule,” page 60, is another activity. Tips for reinforcing autism safety is yet another (page 198). 1001 ideas are A LOT. The authors’ ideas are extensive in this book: sensory integration, communication and language, behavior, daily living, and so on–things your child needs to know and do. I also recommend using this book as a workbook and writing notes in the margins. If possible, both parents should read the book and discuss which activities to do first. If your child is old enough, involve them in deciding which activities to do. Make it fun and personalized to be most effective.
Personal Insight on Autism
Any of Temple Grandin’s autism books are also helpful. My favorite is Thinking in Pictures (affiliate). I love how she gives you an inside, personal look at her life, her discoveries. Born in 1947, she grew up years before autism therapies had been developed. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1940s when researchers began to use the term autism. Temple’s mother resisted medical advice to institutionalize her daughter. Together they spent years developing coping skills. A natural genius, Temple is now a professor at Colorado State University, and her designs for humane cattle equipment can be found worldwide. Learn what you can about her. She’s inspiring.
Which books about autism have helped you? If I haven’t already read them, I’d love to add them to my to-read list.
If you find this article helpful, you might also be interested in reading my tips for a successful IEP meeting.