13 Must-Read Autism Books for Parents in 2022
Autism spectrum disorder can be difficult to understand and live with, whether it's a recent diagnosis or a parent is many years into the journey with their child.
According to the CDC, "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less."
Parents play a key role in autism treatment and can do many things to help their child.
There are many autism books for parents, but not all of them have the same level of quality. It can be difficult to find a book that you feel comfortable with and is going to provide reliable information about autism. In this blog post, we will discuss 13 of the best autism books that should be on any parent's reading list!
1. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
by Barry M. Prizant, PhD
A groundbreaking book on autism, by one of the world’s leading experts, who portrays autism as a unique way of being human—this is “required reading....Breathtakingly simple and profoundly positive” (Chicago Tribune).
Autism therapy typically focuses on ridding individuals of “autistic” symptoms such as difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Now Dr. Barry M. Prizant offers a new and compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.“
A must-read for anyone touched by autism... Dr. Prizant’s Uniquely Human is a crucial step in promoting better understanding and a more humane approach” (Associated Press). Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, Dr. Prizant sees them as part of a range of strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life.
“A remarkable approach to autism....A truly impactful, necessary book” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Uniquely Human offers inspiration and practical advice drawn from Dr. Prizant’s four-decade career. It conveys a deep respect for people with autism and their own unique qualities. Filled with humanity and wisdom, Uniquely Human “should reassure parents and caregivers of kids with autism and any other disability that their kids are not broken, but, indeed, special” (Booklist, starred review).
2. It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family
by Amy Nielsen
Discover how to build your village and raise your Special Needs child in a supportive, loving community.
With an authentic and conversational tone, It Takes A Village is an inspiring book that seeks to illuminate the challenges that parents of children with ADHD or Autism face, providing a wealth of practical strategies and advice for helping you navigate your role as a caregiver to neurodivergent kids.
Designed to help readers appreciate the value of a support system, this heartfelt book empowers parents of all backgrounds with the tools they need to surround themselves with positive, encouraging, and supportive people – from friends and family to professionals and non-profit groups. Plus, with a collection of exercises and prompts, you can keep track of your parenting journey and track your progress over time.
Here’s just a little of what you’ll discover inside:
- Essential Self-Care Tips To Help You Build a Strong Foundation For Your Family
- Why Building a Support System Is a Powerful Way To Help You Manage The Struggles of Parenthood
- How To Make Connections Inside and Outside The Special Needs Community
- Why Professionals and Non-Profit Groups Can Be an Invaluable Resource For Your Child
- Practical Worksheets So You Can Track Your Progress
- And So Much More!
Perfect for any parent, caregiver, or educator who wants to better understand how to care for children with Autism or ADHD, It Takes A Village champions the age-old benefits of community, challenging and encouraging you to embrace your support group and fill your family with love.
3. A Parent's Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition
by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, James C. McPartland
Over 100,000 parents have found the facts they need about high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including Asperger syndrome, in this indispensable guide. Leading experts show how you can work with your child's unique impairments--and harness his or her capabilities. Vivid stories and real-world examples illustrate ways to help kids with ASD relate more comfortably to peers, learn the rules of appropriate behavior, and succeed in school. You'll learn how ASD is diagnosed and what treatments and educational supports really work. Updated with the latest research and resources, the second edition clearly explains the implications of the DSM-5 diagnostic changes.
4. High-Functioning Autism and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Reducing Meltdowns
by Brenda Smith Myles, Ruth Aspy
Learn how to stop a meltdown!
This book offers tried-and-true solutions to minimize and circumvent the often frightening circumstances that surround the cycle of meltdowns, not only for the child with autism but others in the environment as well.
A highly practical and user-friendly resource, High-Functioning Autism and Difficult Moments: Practical Solutions for Meltdowns (3rd edition) describes the three-stage cycle of a meltdown and identifies the evidence-based strategies that should be used at each stage. In addition, this book outlines how to prevent the occurrence of meltdowns through instruction, interpretation, and coaching.
Thus, the authors of this very practical book take the reader through the stages of the cycle and emphasize the importance of utilizing systematic instruction and teachable moments before and after a meltdown. The book emphasizes that (a) meltdowns are not purposeful and (b) instruction is needed in order for them to stop and provides practical steps to complete this journey successfully.
5. Turn Autism Around: An Action Guide for Parents of Young Children with Early Signs of Autism
by Mary Lynch Barbera, PhD., Temple Grandin, PhD
This is the first book of its kind that calls attention to an important fact: parents can make a tremendous impact on their child through behavioral practices taught at home. Dr. Barbera has created a tool kit that any parent can use to help remediate--and in some cases eliminate-some symptoms of autism and other developmental delays in young children, even in as little as 15 minutes a day.
Developmental delays and signs of autism usually show up before 18 months of age, yet children are often not diagnosed until they are 4 or 5 years old. In Turn Autism Around, Dr. Mary Barbera explains why parents can't afford to worry and wait in long lines for evaluations and treatment while not knowing how to help their children. She empowers parents, caregivers, and early intervention professionals to regain hope and take back control with simple strategies to dramatically improve outcomes for their children.
Dr. Barbera has created a new approach to teaching kids with developmental delays that uses the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) married with a positive, child-friendly methodology that any parent can use--whether or not their child has delays--to learn to teach communication skills, socialization strategies, as well as tackle sleep, eating, potty training, and behavior challenges in a positive, effective, and lasting way.
Turn Autism Around is the first book of its kind that calls attention to an important fact: parents can make a tremendous impact on their child's development through behavioral practices taught at home, even in as little as 15 minutes a day. Her program shows these autism and developmental delays can be remediated, and in some cases, delays can be caught up altogether, if parents intervene while the child is young.
This book is for parents of young children aged one-to-five years who are passionate about helping their child as well as learning how they can change the trajectory of their child's and family's life.
6. Life After Lockdown: Resetting Perceptions of Autism
by Rebecca Silva, Ruth Prystash, René DeLoss, Carol Burmeister
In this one-of-a-kind collaboration with over 40 well-known professionals and individuals with ASD, this book has wisdom, humor, and a hefty dose of reality for autistic and non-autistic readers.
A moment-in-time book whose relevance will last. Discover strategies for thriving as society reopens after the pandemic while exploring the reflections of autistic individuals who are living through its aftermath.
Perfect for anyone on the autism spectrum—and those who support them—Life After Lockdown: Resetting Perceptions of Autism offers practical and thought-provoking plans for rebuilding social connections, returning to school, handling stress, and navigating a post-COVID world.
This book empowers individuals, families, and educators by providing proven strategies coupled with reflections on how society might connect and collaborate to best support autistic individuals across the lifespan.
Life After Lockdown offers answers and hope for individuals, families, and educators. Voices of more than 40 authors, including individuals with ASD, family members, and professionals, provide invaluable strategies and insightful stories. With chapters that both inform and inspire, Life After Lockdown provides practical advice but also addresses the deeper issues of respect, dignity, and the importance of providing everyone with the opportunity to build a meaningful life.
Five sections include:
- Becoming Social Again—Coping with the anxiety of reentering the social world while rebuilding valued social connections.
- Back to School—Adjusting to the new health and safety requirements while rebuilding skills that may have diminished during a year of online school.
- Adults in Transition—Unique perspectives from autistic adults, plus suggestions from professionals on how to navigate employment, higher education, and mental health issues.
- Into the Community—The challenges of returning to both essential and pleasurable activities while coping with an unpredictable post-pandemic world.
- Reboot—A deeper look through stories and reflections at how life after lockdown for people on the spectrum could be a moment of profound change.
Life After Lockdown: Resetting Perceptions of Autism is a book that can provide valuable help and inspire change by both empowering and inspiring us all to move forward.
7. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
by Naoki Higashida
“One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • The Wall Street Journal • Bloomberg Business • Bookish
FINALIST FOR THE BOOKS FOR A BETTER LIFE FIRST BOOK AWARD • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.
Praise for The Reason I Jump
“This is an intimate book, one that brings readers right into an autistic mind.”—Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice)
“Amazing times a million.”—Whoopi Goldberg, People
“The Reason I Jump is a Rosetta stone. . . . This book takes about ninety minutes to read, and it will stretch your vision of what it is to be human.”—Andrew Solomon, The Times (U.K.)
“Extraordinary, moving, and jeweled with epiphanies.”—The Boston Globe
“Small but profound . . . [Higashida’s] startling, moving insights offer a rare look inside the autistic mind.”—Parade
8. Expect a Miracle: Understanding and Living With Autism, Second Edition
by David Petrovic, Sandy Petrovic
Have you ever felt like the odds were stacked against you just because of your disability?
Each person is unique in their own way. However, some people fail to recognize the beauty in our differences. On top of the hurdles persons with disabilities have in their lives, people often keep them inside a box. Told from the viewpoints of a young man with high-functioning autism and his mother, Expect A Miracle will shed light and a fresh perspective on a disability misunderstood by many.
Follow the powerful and inspiring story of David and Sandy Petrovic, and how they refuse to let the light in their hearts be dimmed by autism. Reading from Sandy’s perspective, the love, determination, pain, protectiveness, and anticipation of a loving mother is almost palpable. She embodies the unconditional love and support expected of a mother as she gives David everything he needs to fly on his own—and fly he does!
Despite the numerous challenges he encounters, David’s unique perspective on life and as a son becomes the earmark of his sense of self. Written in a voice that’s both familiar and relatable, David openly narrates his fears, struggles, failures, vulnerabilities, and how he overcomes them without losing hope. With each failure and each triumph, you will undoubtedly find yourself rooting for David as he journeys through life.
Expect A Miracle is brimming with important life lessons and tips. It will open your eyes to the different challenges people on the autism spectrum often experience and how they overcome these challenges in their own unique ways. Share this story with your friends, colleagues, and anyone who has ever felt alone and misunderstood. David’s personal insights and experiences will prove that persons with disabilities are also meant for greatness.
Gain valuable insight into the world of autism through the eyes of David and Sandy.
9. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
by Steve Silberman
This New York Times–bestselling book upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.
What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. Wired reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. Going back to the earliest days of autism research, Silberman offers a gripping narrative of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, the research pioneers who defined the scope of autism in profoundly different ways; he then goes on to explore the game-changing concept of neurodiversity.
NeuroTribes considers the idea that neurological differences such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD are not errors of nature or products of the toxic modern world, but the result of natural variations in the human genome. This groundbreaking book will reshape our understanding of the history, meaning, function, and implications of neurodiversity in our world.
10. The Hidden Curriculum for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations for Adolescents and Young Adults, Second Edition
by Brenda Smith Myles, PhD., Melissa L. Trautman, MsEd., Ronda L. Schelvan, MsEd
"The Hidden Curriculum should be considered necessary reading." -Peter Gerhardt, EdD., Executive Director of the EPIC School, author and international speaker.
The Hidden Curriculum addresses important skills that everyone knows, but no one is taught. Understanding the hidden curriculum is especially difficult for individuals who have deficits in social competence skills including those with autism spectrum disorder.
In the revised and expanded edition of this popular book, the authors narrow their target to issues common to adolescents and young adults. While many of the features of the original book have been maintained, information on evidence-based practice has been added. Further, a series of instructional strategies are provided that can be used to teach the hidden curriculum.
Downloadable instructional aids include charts, forms, and templates designed to make the job of teaching and learning the hidden curriculum more effective.
11. Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Child's Life
by Lynn Kern Koegel PhD., Claire LaZebnik
A fully revised and updated edition of the definitive guide to reducing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder
Since Overcoming Autism was first published nearly a decade ago, many theories about autism have fallen by the wayside. But the interventions described in this book have been shown to be the best approach to improving the development and quality of life of children with autism.
Together, Lynn Kern Koegel, the nationally recognized head of the Autism Research Center at the University of California, and Claire LaZebnik, a professional writer and the mother of a child with autism, have updated their classic guide with today’s cutting-edge research. This revised edition has also been expanded to clarify the importance of community support to affected families and the effect of societal acceptance on a child’s life. Still the only book on autism coauthored by professional in the field and a parent with first-hand experience, Overcoming Autism is as warm and nurturing as it is authoritative.
12. Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning Autism- Updated, Expanded Edition (2021 Updated Cover)
by Temple Grandin, PhD., Kate Duffy
Who knows better about developing the talents of those with ASD than New York Times bestselling author Temple Grandin?
This updated and expanded edition of Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals With Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism considers the continuing dismal employment statistics for individuals with ASD.
The authors take an in-depth look at entrepreneurship. Using real-life examples, they point out that many of the unique characteristics of individuals on the autism spectrum lend themselves well to entrepreneurial ventures.
The book explores many unnoticed aspects of vocational rehabilitation programs that provide job training and placement for people with disabilities, as well as Social Security Administration programs that offer vocational assistance. Employment figures and prospects have been updated, and new jobs have been added that are well suited for those on the spectrum.
Foreword by Tony Attwood, PhD.
13. The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed
by Temple Grandin, PhD., Richard Panek
In The Autistic Brain, New York Times bestselling author Temple Grandin "has reached a stunning level of sophistication about herself and the science of autism" (The New York Review of Books).
Winner of a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Nonfiction Book
Temple Grandin may be the most famous person with autism, a condition that affects 1 in 88 children. Since her birth in 1947, our understanding of it has undergone a great transformation, leading to more hope than ever before that we may finally learn the causes of and treatments for autism.
Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the advances in neuroimaging and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show which anomalies might explain common symptoms. Most excitingly, she argues that raising and educating kids on the autism spectrum must focus on their long-overlooked strengths to foster their unique contributions.
The Autistic Brain brings Grandin’s singular perspective into the heart of the autism revolution.
We hope you enjoyed this list of 13 autism books that should be on any parent’s reading list. What are your thoughts? Did we leave out a book or two? Let us know in the comments below!