The 18 Best Autism Parenting Books

The 18 Best Autism Parenting Books

Erin Yilmaz
10 minute read

At AAPC Publishing, we have read hundreds of amazing, inspiring, and helpful stories about parenting children with autism.  "The 18 Best Autism Parenting Books", is a list of our top-sellers and award-winners in this category.  To see more books for parents, please visit our Autism Parenting Book Collection. 

1. What Your Child on the Spectrum Really Needs: Advice From 12 Autistic Adults

The advice discussed here is easy-to-understand and immediately practical. What Your Child on the Spectrum Really Needs: Advice From 12 Autistic Adults does not attempt to catalog all the different types of therapy and medical interventions that exist. Instead, it prioritizes advice asserted by autistic individuals.  Readers will learn a variety of easy-to-implement advice on communication techniques, addressing sensory issues, behavior correction, facilitating friendships, educational advocacy, teaching self-advocacy skills, supporting the transition to college and the workforce, and more.  This information is especially important to parents and caregivers of autistic children who may not realize how their vigorous attempts to do what is "best" for their children are actually having a negative impact on their social/emotional development. 


2. The Potty Journey

The author has successfully toilet trained 100% of the individuals (from ages 2 to 70) with whom she used this approach!

Toilet training children with autism and related disorders is fraught with countless challenges stemming from their unique characteristics. Communication and sensory issues alone can create formidable barriers. As a result, typical strategies are frequently ineffective.  Using a no-nonsense, often humorous approach, Judith Coucouvanis, shares strategies that have produced remarkable results for parents of children with autism and related disorders nationwide. Promising no "quick fixes," The Potty Journey Guide to Toilet Training Children with Special Needs, Including Autism and Related Disorders systematically guides you through the entire toileting journey, step-by-step, to the ultimate destination - dry pants. 


3. Hygiene and Related Behaviors for Children and Adolescents with ASD and Related Disorders

An innovative curriculum that teaches important hygiene skills and associated social understanding using a fun approach that targets the core characteristics and learning styles of children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. The author's generous use of structure, predictability, self-monitoring, and ways to convey and check for social understanding is integrated into all discussions and activities. In Hygiene and Related Behaviors for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders topics focus on healthy and socially acceptable behaviors, addressing basic daily hygiene to picking your nose, using public restrooms, and burping and farting.


4. In A Different Key

Finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction
An extraordinary narrative history of autism: the riveting story of parents fighting for their children ’s civil rights; of doctors struggling to define autism; of ingenuity, self-advocacy, and profound social change.  Nearly seventy-five years ago, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi, became the first child diagnosed with autism. Beginning with his family’s odyssey, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism—by liberating children from dank institutions, campaigning for their right to go to school, challenging expert opinion on what it means to have autism, and persuading society to accept those who are different.  


5. Finding Our Way

This book, written by the mother of three children on the autism spectrum, targets the major issues families face in creating a comfortable environment for every family member. With a balance of heart-warming and side-splitting humor, the author presents countless practical tools for everything from developing positive relations with your child's teachers to the organization to surviving a trip to the grocery store.


6. Plausible Answers to the Question: "Why Do They Do That?"

This is a hands-on reference for parents, other caregivers, and teachers that takes a unique approach to children's behaviors that often dismay and puzzle adults. Using a practical and reader-friendly format, the book presents the following: each behavior, such as crying, on a two-page spread; clear and easy-to-read sections such as: Question & Plausible Answers (does it stem from social, sensory, communication issues), Basic Training (suggestions for what to do), Over and Above (further ideas, who to consult in serious cases, etc.), Red Flags (first signs that the behavior needs attention), What's Next (possible followup).


7. Sharing Information About Your Child with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Leaving a child with a paid respite care worker, friend, neighbor, or even an extended family member, can be a scary, unnerving event for any parent. For parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental challenge, this can be especially stressful due to their child's unique needs. This book can ease some of the apprehensions associated with leaving a child with a caretaker, through checklists, forms and other tools designed to effectively communicate about such areas as a child's behavior, daily living patterns and food rituals. It is a must have for parents who want their children to be cared for safely. 


8. Strategies for a Successful Mealtime

A feeding disorder is a sensory-motor disorder and should be treated accordingly. This involves analyzing the child's oral movement patterns as well as his ability to register and regulate sensory information. Strategies for a Successful Mealtime A Program for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Related Disabilities Who Have Eating Difficulties provides a structured oral movement and feeding program that will help children work through aversion to food textures, limited diet, and difficulty accepting food utensils. Parents, caretakers, and teachers are important participants in the child's treatment program.


9. TIPS: Teaching Important Parenting Strategies

An excellent resource for anyone raising a young child with limited communication skills and/or challenging behaviors. Based on questions and answers that parents and caregivers have asked the authors throughout the years, TIPS may be read in its entirety, or readers can skip around among individual questions and answers. The book can be used as a reference for finding practical, user-friendly solutions to common challenges encountered by parents and caregivers, including communication, behavior, technology, community outings, and sensory needs. All answers follow best practice and evidence-based strategies.


10. The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum

This parent-friendly book, The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum, made especially so because it is written by parents, who also are autism professionals, takes the fear and mystery out of the college experience. Learn how to select the right campus, how to work with Disability Services staff, what legal protections apply, how to prepare your son or daughter to be an effective self-advocate on campus, what assistance can be reasonably be expected from residence hall managers, faculty, and much, much more.


11. Expect a Miracle: Understanding and Living with Autism

Filled with important tips and lessons learned, this book guides the reader through every challenge and solution found along the way.  Expect A Miracle will be cherished by anyone who is on the autism spectrum, their family and friends, as well as anyone who feels alone, misunderstood, or is looking for the courage to live a life of their own making. 


12. Out and About Preparing Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders to Participate in Their Communities

A short, to-the-point resource that is sure be used repeatedly by parents and educators. It focuses on everyday events and how to support individuals on the autism spectrum to be active participants in the world around them.

Created as a "blueprint" to be filled in according the child's strengths and needs and the event being planned, the framework lists 10 areas that have been identified in best practice as effective supports for children with an autism spectrum disorder. The individualized blueprint will become second nature to its users as they become more familiar with the support the child needs and, therefore, serve as an indispensable tool in everyday life.


13. Raising Our Son With Autism

The authors, Merling and Luke Tsai, account their approach to addressing major and unexpected challenges and gifts over the past 40 years with their son, Stephen, who has classic autism. The Tsai’s tell their story, Raising Our Son With Autism A Family's 40-Year Journey, to keep a record of the way Stephen has touched many people’s hearts and changed their spiritual direction despite his challenges in cognition, communication, and social relationships.

14. Make Social Learning Stick!

This book offers numerous ways to embrace teachable moments throughout daily routines without having to do extra work! These moments become opportunities for teaching and reinforcing expected social behavior for those with autism spectrum disorder. Geared toward children in preschool through elementary school, the ideas are meant to inspire creativity that suits each specific child. Activities can be easily tailored to meet a child's developmental level, needs, or challenges.


15. Rules and Tools

Step by step, Rules and Tools for Parenting Children With Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders: Changing Behavior One Step at a Time, will guide parents throughout their journey toward understanding their child and solving behavior challenges. Parents can use one, some, or all of the 119 rules and tools presented in their Parenting Toolbox, to help their child be successful. Using checklists, forms, and other practical tools, parents can also develop their child’s personal MAP – Master Action Plan to help their child succeed in school!


16. Initiations and Interactions

Research shows that an early start is the key to successful intervention for children with an autism spectrum disorder. Research also shows that for most early intervention programs to be effective, they must involve a child's primary caregivers, especially when it comes to communication. Without adding to parents' already busy schedules, Cardon, a speech language pathologist, discusses the importance of creating a communication environment in the home.


17. Improving Speech and Eating Skills in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

The suggestions and activities will enable parents and professionals to broaden food varieties in a child's diet, increase a child's ability to accept touch inside and around the mouth, and expand the number of sounds and words produced by a child. This is a great resource to help broaden foods in a child's diet and expand a child's sounds and words! 


18. Top Ten Tips: A Survival Guide for Families With Children on the Autism Spectrum

Parenting children on the autism spectrum is an adventure with countless twists and turns. However, with a little help from 44 fellow parents and professionals, your daily journey can be a little less bumpy. This book offers over 500 practical, tried-and-true tips and is organized so that the reader doesn't have to read through theories or lengthy descriptions. It is practical -- short and sweet, containing the information that you want to know NOW! The book is broken down into nine chapters covering topics that include self-management, travel, friendships, summertime, school day, and bedtime. 


Like this list?  You might also like our list, "8 Excellent Children's Books About Autism".

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