5 Books to Read to Better Understand Autism


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This month is National Autism Awareness Month, sponsored by the Autism Society. The goal of this month is stated on Autism Society’s website: “We want to get one step closer to a society where those with ASDs are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts.”

Because 1 in every 68 children exhibit signs and symptoms of Autism, most people know or are related to someone with Autism. However, most people’s understanding of Autism is often vague.

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, we wanted to curate a list of 5 books that you can read this month in order to strengthen your understanding of Autism. Some of these books are fiction and some of them are non-fiction.

If you are interested in expanding your knowledge about Autism or know people that are interested, this list can be a wonderful launching point. The more we can empathize with and understand one another, the better this world will be.

5 Books to Read to Better Understand Autism

Let’s crack open a book, enter another world and expand our knowledge about and compassion for people with Autism. The following 5 books can allow you to do just that.

1. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

This book is written by John Elder Robison, the brother of the famous author Augusten Burroughs. Robison grew up knowing something was different about him. By his teenage years, he has earned the title, “social deviant”, because of his odd habits.

Because Robison grew up during a time in which Autism awareness—espeically Asperger’s—was not as robust as it is today, he was not formally diagnosed until age 40.

Look Me in the Eye is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger’s at a time when the diagnosis simply didn’t exist. A born storyteller, Robison takes you inside the head of a boy whom teachers and other adults regarded as “defective,” who could not avail himself of KISS’s endless supply of groupies, and who still has a peculiar aversion to using people’s given names.”

If you are looking to better understand the inner workings of a person with Asperger’s—a subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder, this book is a fascinating read!

2. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

NeuroTribes was a New York Times bestselling non-fiction book that also won the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

This book raises some simple, yet fascination questions: “What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius?”

The author, Steve Silberman is a science writer for WIRED who also gave a viral TED talk on Autism that received more than 800,000 views entitled, “The Forgotten History of Autism”.

This books examines so many different facets of this topic: “Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.”

Oliver described this books as a “sweeping and penetrating history…presented with a rare sympathy and sensitivity.” 

This is a must-read book about Autism for people looking to truly deepen their understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder and how it affects the many aspects of our lives, society and future.

3. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm

If you are a parent, teacher, social worker, therapist or physician that works with or is related to someone with Autism, this is a must-read!

This book won the iParenting Media Award and Honorable Menton in the 2005 ForeWord Book of the Year Award.

As one reader writes, “This is the best book on autism I have read, and I have read a lot. It helped me to understand more of what my own child was thinking, his limitations and his abilities. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious, knows someone with autism or has a child with autism or just cares. It changed my life and I have given it to so many other people. It isn't full of theories and conspiracies and technical terms, it is full of understanding and compassion.”

This book is only 110 pages, but is packed with incredibly important information that illuminates characteristics of people with Autism. Some chapter titles include: My Sensory Perceptions are Disordered, I Interpret Language Literally, and Focus and Build on What I Can Do Rather Than What I Can’t Do.

Out of all the books on this list, this is most accessible and understandable—we highly recommend it!

4. Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

Sometimes a firsthand account about living with Autism is the most effective way to empathize and better understand it.

The author Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is “a gifted animal scientist who has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism—because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us.”

Grandin did not talk until she was three and a half years old. In 1950, she was diagnosed with Austism and her parents were told that she should be institutionalized. Throughout her life, Grandin has overcome obstacles and has found great success in here career.

Her story is an inspiration to hundreds of families and specialists.

5. Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism by Chantal Sicile-Kira

The author of this book, Chantal Sicile-Kira has worked with Autism Spectrum Disorder for over 25 years both as a professional and a parent. She recently founded AutismCollege.com, which provides training and information on Autism to parents and educators.

This book is an in-depth, informative examination of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The topics include: The Cause of Austism Spectrum Disorder, How to Properly Diagnose ASPs, Coping Strategies for Family, and Living and Working Conditions for Adults with ASP.

This book is comprehensive and very informative, but easy to read. If you are a parent or educator of children with Autism, this is a fantastic resource.