Reading List

autism booksI thought I’d add this page as a way of keeping track of the books I’ve been reading around the subject of ASD. From what I’ve heard, it’s quite common for parents of newly diagnosed children to read everything they can get their hands on, and I guess I’m no exception! We’re quite lucky in that, because we work in education, it has been quite easy to access lots of books. It would cost a small fortune to buy these books and there are so many it is difficult to even know where to start.

The intention is to keep a list of the books, and perhaps a few comments on what I thought of them, their usefulness etc. I’ve already posted on a couple of these books in the main part of the blog.

Unstrange Minds by Roy Richard Grinker:

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The first book I picked up and something I have commented on in the main part of the blog. This was an interesting mixture of revealing personal experience and what I suppose is called sociological study.  The writer is ‘an anthropologist as well as the parent of a child with autism’. It looks at autism and its acceptance across different cultures and classes. It’s good, and worth a read, but maybe not the first thing you would pick up if you wanted some basic factual advice and guidance. Some of those shared personal experiences really stuck in my mind though and were the most effective parts of the book.

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm:

51yLYyL2YAL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Another book I have posted about. This is an excellent starting point in learning about the condition- once you get past the saccharine American tone. After I read it I immediately passed it onto family members who were struggling to understand and accept the situation. I think its helped my mother recognise that he is autistic and to start to understand how B might think and feel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Complete Guide To Aspergers Syndrome by Tony Attwood:

51xqV71G-DL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_The author is a leading authority on Aspergers and I’d say this book is pretty essential. It is accessible but also detailed and thorough. Autism Outreach passed it on to me and it clearly has relevance to both parents and those working in this area. At the end of each chapter it has a bullet pointed summary of the main points. This makes it very easy to quickly access information and then explore in more depth particular sections. Get this book first.

When Your Child Has Aspergers Syndrome by William Stillman:

41OVoQfPnoL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Written as a practical guide- almost like a list of dos and don’ts, although given the wide ranging nature of the ‘spectrum’ that’s a pretty ambitious aim. It’s American and some of the later sections lack relevance to UK readers but, for its practical advice, I’d say it’s well worth a look. My wife, incidentally, hates this book. I think this is based on the section which explores the way parents may blame themselves and consider if they are autistic. I think she feels this is unhelpful. For me though, I’ve thought a lot about this. Most of the time I conclude that I’m definitely not on the spectrum but then I’ll find myself reminiscing about how I used to do certain things, behave in certain ways. If nothing else, reading that this is quite common is helpful.

Understanding Autism For Dummies by Temple Grandin, Stephen Shore and Linda G. Rastelli

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Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers Syndrome by Luke Jackson:

519IvYYg8HL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_A staggering achievement when you consider that the author is just thirteen years old. Luke Jackson writes so well about his condition and no matter how much you think you know, there is something to learn from this book. Inspiring and informative. I hear his mum is also published- I’d really like to hear her story.

My Brother is Different: A Book for Young Children Who Have a Brother or Sister with Autism by Louise Gorrod and Beccy Carver:

BC0031See main blog.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time by Mark Haddon:

511P-vYvcqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Not so much a source of information, more an excuse to read a really good book I hadn’t read for a long time. The autistic/aspergers narrator is convincingly written, although it seems that the author has distanced himself from being any sort of spokesperson, expert or reference point for the condition.

Understanding Applied Behavior Analysis by Albert J.Kearney

51FqP0L4h8L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_A guide to the basic terminology and methods of ABA. This is clearly written and user friendly but I have to admit to being baffled by ABA. This is my first foray into the strategy and there’s a lot to take in. This book will be useful as a reference should we get more involved, but as I said in the main blog, it remystifyed it as much as demystified it upon first reading.

The Out-of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz

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Son Rise- The Miracle Continues by Barry Neil Kaufman

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Both of the above titles are on our bookshelf waiting to be read. They were purchased after some strong recommendations on places like Amazon.

Let Me Hear Your Voice by Catherine Maurice

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The Verbal Behavior Approach by Mary Lynch Barbera

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Of all the ABA books we’ve dipped into so far, this is the most useful. It offers a DIY approach to the therapy (that doesn’t cost £20,000) and for us offers some very relevant advice and strategies. If we move forward with ABA, this will probably underpin what we do.

George and Sam by Charlotte Moore

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This is probably the best book on autism that I have read. The author is the mother of three children, two of whom are autistic. I was expecting a book about their condition and how their lives are affected (if that’s the right word) by it. It is about this, but also goes much further, giving details about diagnosis, diet, schooling and a whole host of other areas. As such, I’d recommend it as a starting point to rank alongside the Tony Attwood book. Really useful. Mostly though, it’s the jaw dropping story of the families lives together that is most amazing. The writer is truly an incredible woman and an absolute inspiration (not to mention a brilliant writer). In fact, if I have one criticism, it’s that the reader does not learn more about this intriguing woman. The obvious counter to that is that it’s a book about her sons, not her. Still, I would have liked to learn about how she has managed to get to the place she is in now. Actually, scrap that, there is nothing wrong with this book. I highly recommend it and have just ordered a second copy to be sent to my parents.

Help! Programme Parent Manual

This is a publication by the National Autistic Society. My wife came across it on a toileting course, but it does not appear on any part of the NAS website or, from what I could see, anywhere else on the internet (amazon etc). I wrote to the NAS and the publication is available through them, if you ask, for £17 (or, I guess, if you attend a course). The reason I went to the trouble of writing to NAS is beacause I believe this is the book that every parent should be given at the point of diagnosis. Never mind the cost, LAs should be funding this as an essential part of the support given. When our son was diagnosed we were sent on our way to face weeks and weeks of silence- no support- other than what we got through this reading list and internet forums. I wish we had been given this book. It is the most practical of the books I have read, clearly written, full of useful links. Worth tracking down.

Martian in the Playground by Clare Sainsbury

51glCvFy5RL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_An insightful book about first hand experiences of autism and aspergers at school. I read this both as a parent and a teacher. As a parent it terrified me to think my child might experience such difficulties throughout their school life. As a teacher it left me feeling guilty that I have, in the past been so blind to the needs of young people on the spectrum. The good news is that books such as this go some way towards educating people and helping to change attitudes. I hope that we are moving on from the types of situations Clare and others like herself found themselves in. I’ve recommended this book to colleagues in the SEN department at school. Like all great books, you immediately want everyone to read it!

Joe- the only boy in the world by Michael Blastland

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Michael Blastland puts into words the experience of autism better than anyone I have read. In this book he uses his son’s autism as a springboard for considering how our minds work and how the autistic mind differs. I found that at times the his theories were a little mind boggling but always thought provoking. I loved this book and know I will read it again.

Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

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Because no self respecting autism reading list should be without a Temple Grandin book. I’d agree with something I read recently that Temple’s gifted brilliance makes her atypical of many people, autistic or not. Nonetheless, she is quite rightly regarded as a leading pioneer in our understanding of asd.

Parenting a child with Asperger syndrome by Brenda Boyd

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A very practical, clearly written book of strategies and advice. I think it’s too early for a lot of it to be relevant but it will certainly be a book I will be reaching for in the future.

The Boy who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette

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Right, time to switch off for a while with a bit of fiction. Of course, switching off never happens, and I’ve found myself seeking out autism fiction of late. I’m not sure Kathy Lette targets the male reader all that much but I read this anyway. Lette draws on her own experiences and the portrayal of the relationship between an autistic child and his mother is convincing. Her word play and punning are a bit tiresome and it conforms to a number of chick-lit staples (apparently all men are bastards). Look, don’t tell anyone, but I secretly really enjoyed this. File under ‘guilty pleasures’, if tales of the relentless, thankless pain of raising a disabled child can be classed as a pleasure. Perhaps Lette’s skill is to write such a book that does not put the reader off. I’m guessing her message will reach many people who had previously not known about autism.

A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards by Ann Bauer

Rules by Cynthia Lord

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

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More autism fiction. Why do I do this to myself?

Asperger Syndrome and Sensory Issues  by Brenda Smith Myles

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Can’t Eat, Won’t Eat by Brenda Legge

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Some of my favourite autism books are the ones that make me think, “It’s not just us!” Having a child on the spectrum can be quite an isolating experience, as other families set off on their neurotypical journeys through life, and you’re left with quite a different experience. Being able to hear that other families share your experiences is an important part of learning to cope with a child’s diagnosis. This book was a real find for me. Its accounts of fussy eaters and the autism diet really resonated with what we’ve been through and for me, that is the book’s greatest strength.

Even when discussing autism/aspergers in general, the book hits the nail on the head, with it’s observation that the condition and its associated behaviours ‘seem to defy all logic’. It goes on to give accounts from the author and those she interviewed which were like a checklist of the types of food problems we’ve had. Throughout the book I found myself celebrating that “it’s not just us!” I think a real strength of the book is the feeling that you are being spoken to not by a dietician or health care professional, but a parent. The author has a very honest approach to what works and what doesn’t and never, ever forgets how difficult it can be.

The book covers food obsessions, eating habits, the vagaries of children’s favourites, school issues and so on. It offers a number of strategies, which I’m sure I’ll be referring back to in the future. Mostly, though, it reminds you that you are not alone, not a failure as a parent and that there is a way through with your child and their eating habits.

My Sensory Book by Lauren H Kerstein

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My son is a little too young to make use of the resources in this book but it is clearly a very well presented, interactive workbook. In a couple of years I think it will be an excellent resource to help him understand sensory issues, feelings and strategies for handling his experiences. For adults it is equally informative and offers an easy to digest explanation of a difficult subject matter.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

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It must be difficult for a writer to write from the point of view of an autistic person. I don’t know this author’s background but she convincingly manages to write as ‘Jason’, the narrator of ‘Anything But Typical’. In fact, co convincing is her portrayal of Asperger’s that I found I could not stop imagining a boy who I teach as Jason. Everything seems to fit- the anxieties, the behaviour, the patterns of thinking. The boy I teach is just like Jason and as such I found this a compelling read.

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

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Post coming soon!

13 Responses to Reading List

  1. Fig says:

    Sensational Kids isa good book too – not as detailed as ‘The Out-of-Sync-Child’ but its based around 4-5 families and you can see snippets of your own children in their behavious. The OT writer goes on to explain these behaviours etc.
    I’ve also read the newer Temple Grandin book – The Way I See It… another good book with some excellent views to consider.
    Read a few others on Sensory Disorder and General Autism books but off the top of my head can’t remember – will have to look them up :)

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  5. angielamb says:

    Hi, not sure if you’ve come across Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) book, it talks about the connection between ASD and the health of the gut and offers a treatment through diet – more info on this website http://www.gaps.me Written by a doctor/neurosugeon/nutritionist who’s son was autistic.

    • Rachel says:

      Thumbs up for GAPS here too. I’m 2.5 years now on GAPS for my own health issues with big benefits. I often read parents reporting positive changes in their Autistic children’s behaviour on the GAPS yahoo forum. Becoming calmer, happier more social. Parents also often say ‘GAPS is hard but life with Autism was harder’

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  10. Rachel says:

    I only caught the first episode but want to hear more.
    Radio 4’s book of the week – The Reason I jump. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02ykg50

    Also this YouTube video, its not a book but its about Carly who’s autistic non verbal and how she was eventually able to communicate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZVV4Ciccg

  11. T.O. says:

    Just listened to the programme (and ordered the book – The Reason I jump). Thanks, Rachel

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