The best books about autism

16 authors have picked their favorite books about autism and why they recommend each book.

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Autism in My Family

By Sandra Tucker,

Book cover of Autism in My Family: A Journal for Siblings of Children with ASD

This book beautifully explores the challenge of living with an autistic sibling. Eight – 12-year-olds are invited to draw/write about their feelings and experiences on their own and/or with a parent or their special-needs sibling. The basics of autism are explained to help children understand why their sibling acts the way they do, increasing empathy, reducing frustration, and decreasing conflict. This is a gentle, normalizing, and ultimately empowering book geared to families living with autism but potentially useful to children with special-needs siblings of all stripes.

Who am I?

I am a Child Psychologist and Author turned Parent Coach who often hears about the bickering, put-downs, jealousy, and conflict sapping families with multiple children. Telling them to “cut it out” clearly does nothing. Kids need not only the skills (how to talk, how to listen, how to manage feelings and resolve conflict) but also the motivation to use them, a combination I have spent my career thinking about, writing about, and teaching. All of the books I have written, and all that I recommend, include this winning combination of skills and motivation with the aim of helping children live happier lives.


I wrote...

The Sibling Survival Guide: Surefire Ways to Solve Conflicts, Reduce Rivalry, and Have More Fun with Your Brothers and Sisters

By Dawn Huebner, Kara McHale (illustrator),

Book cover of The Sibling Survival Guide: Surefire Ways to Solve Conflicts, Reduce Rivalry, and Have More Fun with Your Brothers and Sisters

What is my book about?

Having a brother or sister can be tough. It can also be great, but it’s hard to see the great parts with so many bad parts getting in the way. Things like fighting and bossing. Teasing and jealousy. Tattling. Pestering. You get the idea. The Sibling Survival Guide speaks directly to children ages 9-12, teaching the skills needed to manage feelings, resolve conflicts, and strengthen bonds. Warm, witty, and packed with practical strategies, this interactive book educates, motivates, and empowers siblings to live in peace.

I Am Odd, I Am New

By Benjamin Giroux, Roz MacLean (illustrator),

Book cover of I Am Odd, I Am New

A beautifully written story reassuring kids that it is ok to be different and it is written through the eyes of a 10-year-old. Very powerful and an eye-opener to those that may not know what Autism looks like or what we look like to an Autistic child.

Who am I?

I have seen a huge shift in the way others look at me and treat me since losing complete vision in one eye. I’m now labeled. It’s not fun, it’s disturbing and sad, and even though my appearance has slightly changed, I have not. “my disability does not define who I am” I may smile, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle and we can all use some kind words and encouragement and not be so judgmental.


I wrote...

The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other

By Argyro Graphy,

Book cover of The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other

What is my book about?

Bentley is about to board a rocket for the trip of a lifetime. His friends however are not allowed to join him as they are "different". 

This book teaches children about diversity and inclusion. We should all celebrate individuality and embrace our differences. Children will see themselves through the diverse characters known to Bentley as 'his friends'. This is a great conversation starter for parents, teachers, and educators. Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other reinforces the importance of being different, and that we all matter, and we all belong.

Let's Talk! Going to the Zoo

By Lisa Jacovsky, Blueberry Illustrations (illustrator),

Book cover of Let's Talk! Going to the Zoo

A fantastic story about two best friends where one has autism and although other children mock her for flapping her arms, they learn about autism and about being themselves no matter what others think. A wonderful book showing kids that it's ok to laugh with others but not at them.

Who am I?

I have seen a huge shift in the way others look at me and treat me since losing complete vision in one eye. I’m now labeled. It’s not fun, it’s disturbing and sad, and even though my appearance has slightly changed, I have not. “my disability does not define who I am” I may smile, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle and we can all use some kind words and encouragement and not be so judgmental.


I wrote...

The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other

By Argyro Graphy,

Book cover of The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other

What is my book about?

Bentley is about to board a rocket for the trip of a lifetime. His friends however are not allowed to join him as they are "different". 

This book teaches children about diversity and inclusion. We should all celebrate individuality and embrace our differences. Children will see themselves through the diverse characters known to Bentley as 'his friends'. This is a great conversation starter for parents, teachers, and educators. Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other reinforces the importance of being different, and that we all matter, and we all belong.

Failure to Communicate

By Kaia Sønderby,

Book cover of Failure to Communicate

Xandri Corelel, one of the few autistic people born in a eugenics-obsessed future, has spent her life learning to decode the ways neurotypicals communicate. Now she roams the galaxy using that skill as a professional interpreter of alien language. Xandri is hands down the most relatable protagonist I've ever encountered in fiction, and her adventures are exciting and uplifting.


Who am I?

I’m an autistic science fiction writer myself, and I’ve been reviewing autistic science fiction, fantasy, and horror books for over a decade on my “Autistic Book Party” blog. I’ve learned a huge amount in this time about authors like me and what we have to offer the book world. Autistic people are called unimaginative, but that description couldn’t be more wrong – many of us use our imaginations as a richly detailed escape and coping mechanism. There are many more of us out there today than anyone else realizes, from famous, award-winning names to obscure authors using their unique view of the world to create works of imagination, insight, and beauty.


I wrote...

The Outside

By Ada Hoffmann,

Book cover of The Outside

What is my book about?

Humanity’s super-intelligent AI Gods brutally punish breaches in reality, as one young scientist discovers, in this intense and brilliant space opera.

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon,

Book cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

It’s about an autistic boy trying to solve the murder of a neighbor's dog and discovers wild truths about himself and the world. He loves animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched, and he hates yellow. I liked Christopher and his unique view on life. Somehow, the author makes Christopher’s little world an incredibly interesting and thrilling place to be.

I recommend this book because it takes you on a unique detective-like adventure where you’re dying to know how Christopher navigates the real world with such unique qualities.

The story is heart-warming, educating, and humorous at the same time.


Who am I?

Somehow, I’ve always been drawn to stories with elements of the paranormal. From children’s picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, to young adult, I feel compelled to include hints of a supernatural world mixed in with everyday life. I’ve always connected with stories with realistic content—content I can relate to—content that, in my mind, could really happen. However, I can’t help but wonder what else is out there, beyond what we can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. This ‘wonderment’ excites me, and I want to find ways to share this curious buzz with my readers. 


I wrote...

Screaming Ridge: Remembering Kaylee Cooper

By Christopher Francis,

Book cover of Screaming Ridge: Remembering Kaylee Cooper

What is my book about?

Kaylee Cooper is certain that Alex will become friends with a ghost this year. But he doesn’t care.

He simply wants her to leave him alone and stop jeopardizing his important sixth-grade social life. But Kaylee Cooper won’t stop. She doesn’t care either. Fed up, Alex develops a strategic plan to ultimately get rid of Kaylee Cooper for good. However, Alex soon learns about the mysterious legend of Screaming Ridge that pulls an unlikely group of friends together, including the girl of his dreams, and the school’s meanest bully. When the group discovers Kaylee Cooper is at the core of the mystery, Alex stares death in the face and helps save her from an eternal life of misery and confusion.

Animals in Translation

By Temple Grandin, Catherine Johnson,

Book cover of Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Like her book Thinking In Pictures, Animals In Translation is about how Temple Grandin solved problems, like ways to improve animal handling in slaughterhouses, by putting herself literally in the position of the animals and ‘seeing’ how it could change the way they were treated, making it less distressing for them. This then is about visual communication, not verbal as words themselves are only part of the communication process, with tone of voice and body language being the greater part of it. Speaking for myself, I found language problematic as what someone said might be contradicted by what they did or the tone of their voice.


Who am I?

What qualifies me to compile this list of books, probably goes back to my childhood and the confusion I felt about human society and its conflict in word usage, compared to actual meaning. This fascination with psychology and linguistics, culminated in me reading perhaps hundreds of books, some of which are included here. My mother described me as a quiet baby and a child who would only say something, if they thought it was important, possible indicators of autism and the little professor syndrome of silent observation and study.


I wrote...

Logic List English: Rhyming Word etc. - Vol 1 A

By Tony Sandy,

Book cover of Logic List English: Rhyming Word etc. - Vol 1 A

What is my book about?

Logic Lists English as a series of eight books, strips language naked, pointing out it is a simplified code, made obvious in the film Windtalkers, starring Nicolas Cage. The native speakers used their own language to relay military secrets, which the enemy couldn’t understand as they didn’t know the linguistic rules being used.

The first volume, Rhyming Words, uses a vertical grid, to show common combinations of consonants (Br- / Bl- ) and vowel sounds horizontally (A / E / I / O / U). It is set out in this way as columns for teaching purposes in the classroom, repeating the sounds firstly, then later writing out the patterns shown. This format ensures changes in language are accommodated over the years as sounds won’t really alter, even if the spelling does.

Nadia Revisited

By Lorna Selfe,

Book cover of Nadia Revisited: A Longitudinal Study of an Autistic Savant

Nadia was a severely autistic and mentally challenged child who, at age 3, drew horses that in important respects rivalled those by Leonardo da Vinci. Nadia was clearly a case of “savant syndrome” – an individual severely impaired in most areas but with one island of genius-level skill. Psychologist Lorna Selfe first wrote about this amazing case in 1977. In 2011, Selfe tells us what happened to Nadia’s drawing ability as she grew older and why her drawings regressed sharply to a more primitive level. This book will introduce you to the many theories put forth to explain this strange almost eerie phenomenon. It will help you think about the difference between artistic giftedness in the context of autism and mental challenges versus such giftedness in the context of an otherwise typically developing child.


Who am I?

I’ve had a life-long love affair with the arts. I intended to become an artist, but ultimately became a psychologist researching psychological aspects of the arts. My first book, Invented Worlds, examined the key questions and findings in the psychology of the arts. In Gifted Children: Myths and Realities, I wrote about gifted child artists. My Arts & Mind Lab at Boston College investigated artistic development in typical and gifted children, habits of mind conferred by arts education, and how we respond to works of art. The walls of my home are covered with framed paintings by young children, often side by side paintings by professional artists.


I wrote...

How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration

By Ellen Winner,

Book cover of How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration

What is my book about?

How Art Works explores puzzles about the arts (visual art, music, literature) that have preoccupied philosophers as well as the broader, reflective public: Can “ART” be defined? How do we decide what we think is a good or great work of art? Why do we seek out works of art that elicit negative emotions like sadness or fear? What’s wrong with a perfect fake? Does reading fiction enhance empathy? Does arts education raise test scores? What is particularly special about the visual art of the young child?  These puzzles are explored from the perspective of empirical evidence from my own lab as well as from labs of psychologists around the world.

We Walk

By Amy S. F. Lutz,

Book cover of We Walk: Life with Severe Autism

As a mother of a child with severe autism, I am grateful to Amy Lutz for writing a book that captures our family's unique challenges. Too often, media focuses on people with autism who need a lower level of support and it can feel like life with severe autism is being overlooked. Lutz’s beautiful writing gives you a window into a much-needed read.


Who am I?

I'm writer, educator, disability advocate, and mother of a teenage son with multiple disabilities. Since my son’s diagnosis with autism at age three, I've been on a quest to not only understand the way that his unique brain works, but also to advocate for a more just and equitable world for people with disabilities and their families. When researching my book The Little Gate-Crasher, I discovered how much my great-grandmother was a powerful advocate for her son Mace who was born with a form of dwarfism. Our society has evolved in the last one hundred years in terms of inclusion and accessibility—and yet, people with disabilities and their loved ones are often isolated.


I wrote...

The Little Gate-Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen

By Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer,

Book cover of The Little Gate-Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen

What is my book about?

Mace Bugen might have been an achondroplastic dwarf—forty-three inches tall with an average-sized head and a torso set on small, twisted legs—but that didn’t mean he was an idiot or a pushover. In truth, he was smarter than most; over the years, he learned to effectively turn what society in those days called a handicap into a powerful tool he could use to his advantage.

At a time before cell phones or Andy Warhol, you could say that Bugen was the world’s first practitioner of the celebrity selfie. Or maybe you could say more accurately that he was the world’s first selfie photobomber. Over a period of three decades, Mace engineered photos of himself with some of the biggest celebrities of his day.

Life, Animated

By Ron Suskind,

Book cover of Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism

If you have a child diagnosed with apraxia, a rare but growing neurologically-based communication impairment, you are probably aware of the lack of research for apraxia in children. Life, Animated is geared towards those raising a child with autism. While apraxia is considered to be “on the spectrum” not every child with apraxia meets the requirements for a diagnosis of autism, some of the treatments that have been found helpful for autism, have been found useful to address apraxia as well. In addition, a Penn State study found 64% of those with autism have apraxia. 

Life, Animated is helpful in a number of ways. Like The New Language of Toys, it demonstrates how we as parents can become instrumental in helping our children breakthrough to find their voices. It teaches us to look outside of the evidence to integrative methods that may help. Knowing which toy, activity, or subject…


Who am I?

I started as a designer, patented inventor, and creator in the fashion, toy, and film industries, but after the early diagnosis of my young children on the spectrum, both “late talkers,” diagnosed with multiple disorders including apraxia, I entered the world of nonprofit, research, and advocacy. I am the founder of the nonprofit Cherab Foundation where I've been outreaching for over twenty years. I've hosted numerous conferences including the first for apraxia overseen by a medical director from NIH who reviewed my protocol – the use of fish oils as a therapeutic intervention, published research on my patented nutritional intervention IQed Smart Nutrition, and co-authored the book The Late Talker to share my proven protocol and help others achieve the best possible results for their communication impaired children.


I wrote...

The Late Talker

By Marilyn C. Agin, Lisa F. Geng, Malcolm J. Nicholl

Book cover of The Late Talker

What is my book about?

The Late Talker is the first book of its kind, providing effective, practical answers to the questions every concerned parent asks. Written by Marilyn C. Agin, a highly respected developmental pediatrician, and Lisa F. Geng, a mother of two late talkers.

It is a tremendously useful handbook that includes: ways to identify the warning signs of a speech disorder; information on how to get the right kind of evaluations and therapy; ways to obtain appropriate services through the school system and health insurance; fun at-home activities that parents can do with their child to stimulate speech; groundbreaking evidence of the promising and dramatic benefits of nutritional supplementation; advice from experienced parents who've been there on what to expect and what you can do to be your child's best advocate.

A Boy Called Bat

By Elana K. Arnold, Charles Santoso (illustrator),

Book cover of A Boy Called Bat

This tenderhearted book is narrated by Bixby Alexander Tam (Bat), a boy who falls in love with the orphaned baby skunk his mom brings home. I love that Bat’s autism has a role in the story—his challenges understanding other people cause friction and school and with his sister—but it isn’t the only focus of the book. Bat’s big problem is convincing his mom to let him keep the skunk kit. Readers are drawn into his unique worldview as he experiences friendship, family, and skunk-parenting.


Who am I?

I’ve been an elementary school classroom teacher and teacher-librarian for over 25 years and I’ve had the privilege of teaching many amazing students with neurodiversity. I was inspired to write the Slug Days book when I was teaching a student with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I wrote the book to imagine what life might be like for that student so I could be a better teacher. I believe a school library should represent all our students and I’m always on the lookout for excellent books that feature neurodiverse characters.


I wrote...

Slug Days

By Sara Leach, Rebecca Bender (illustrator),

Book cover of Slug Days

What is my book about?

A charismatic illustrated novel about the ups and downs of school and home life for one little girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

On slug days Lauren feels slow and slimy. She feels like everyone yells at her, and she has no friends. On butterfly days Lauren makes her classmates laugh, goes to get ice cream, or works on a special project with Mom. With support and stubbornness and a flair that’s all her own, Lauren masters tricks to stay calm, understand others’ feelings, and let her personality shine.

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