What we know about autism is rapidly evolving. With each passing year, more studies are conducted, additional behaviors are understood, and new books are published to communicate developments in our understanding to families and professionals alike. Indeed, as more and more families experience the effects of autism first hand, books on the topic of autism become especially sought after. Below are the 50 best books about the autism spectrum as of 2020.
101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism, Asperger’s, and Sensory Processing Disorders
Tara Delaney is a pediatric occupational therapist. She points out in this bestseller that kids on the autism spectrum tend to learn very effectively when they’re allowed to play or participate in hands-on activities. Delaney provides parents, educators, and therapists with 101 fun and effective ideas that will help children improve their motor, social, and language skills through play.
1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s
Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk
This bestselling book about the autism spectrum is a must-read for anyone living with or teaching children on the spectrum. Authors Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk offer more than a thousand useful ideas for helping children on the autism spectrum to achieve success at home, in the classroom, and out in the community.
All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
Children are sure to love this humorous look at Asperger’s Syndrome. Author Kathy Hoopman uses colorful photographs of cats and kittens to draw parallels between Asperger’s and the favorite household pet.
Asperger’s in Pink: Pearls of Wisdom from Inside the Bubble of Raising a Child with Autism
Parents of daughters on the autism spectrum will appreciate Julie Clark’s humorous candor. The author and mother describes the way her family has adapted to life with a child with Asperger’s. She also discusses helpful topics like social signals, common daily battles, and the pros and cons of occupational therapy.
The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome
Jennifer Cook O’Toole
This book was written for children with Asperger’s by a teen with Asperger’s. The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules is an excellent resource for the whole family. This unique bestseller covers the dos and don’ts of family and community behavior for those to whom it may not come naturally. It’s hilarious and genuine. Family members may find it helpful to read alongside their tween or teen to better understand the autistic perspective.
Autism: What Does it Mean to Me?: A Workbook Explaining Self Awareness and Life Lessons to the Child or Youth with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s
Parents and educators of older children on the autism spectrum should find this book by autism trainer Catherine Faherty to be indispensable. Autism: What Does it Mean to Me? is organized into useful sections on topics like friendship, online safety, self-advocacy, and various emotions. It’s written to engage the autistic child or young adult. The book aims to guide children and their teachers and families as they work towards acceptance and appreciation of their differences.
Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together
Robert Naseef, Ph.D.
Many families struggle to find the balance it takes to support a child with autism and ensure the rest of the family’s needs are met. They’ll find Autism in the Family extremely helpful. Dr. Robert Naseef’s son is on the autism spectrum. This bestseller guides families through collaborating with professionals, maintaining a strong marriage, discipline, managing stress, and much more.
The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed
Temple Grandin and Richard Panek
Few people have been as influential to our understanding of autism as Temple Grandin. In her bestselling book The Autistic Brain, Grandin combines her unique personal experiences with fascinating information about advances in neuroimaging, the genetic research that has linked brain science to behavior, and important findings throughout the evolution of our understanding about autism. Teachers and parents will especially appreciate Grandin’s assertion that successfully raising and educating children on the spectrum means focusing on their often-overlooked strengths, as opposed to the things they can’t do or which they do differently.
Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom: A Handy Reference Guide that Explains Behaviors Associated with Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and other Special Needs
Beth Aune, OTR/L; Beth Burt; and Peter Gennaro
More and more schools are transitioning towards inclusive classrooms. Teachers need to become aware of the different behavior types — especially the behavior often associated with children on the autism spectrum. Thanks to authors Beth Aune, Beth Burt, and Peter Gennaro, teachers now have a handy reference in Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom. This must-have book includes a helpful index. Educators can quickly find the information they’re looking for about such topics as: fidgeting, repeatedly getting out of seats, hand-flapping, covering ears, hiding, losing assignments, clothing issues, and much more.
Building Sensory Friendly Classrooms
Teachers will have no trouble setting up a sensory-friendly classroom with the help of this top-rated book by Rebecca Moyes. In Building Sensory Friendly Classrooms, Moyes explains how teachers can use data-driven strategies to run an efficient classroom, overcome common behavioral problems, and make their lives easier!
The Child with Autism at Home & in the Community: Over 600 Must-Have Tips for Making Home Life and Outings Easier for Everyone
Kathy Labosh and LaNita Miller
The two authors of the bestselling The Child with Autism at Home & in the Community definitely know what they’re talking about. Kathy Labosh is the mother of two autistic sons, while LaNita Miller is a long-time special education teacher. This volume is referred to as a “book of instructions.” It contains advice about dealing with common issues that occur at home and while out and about. There are also myriad ideas about how to enjoy places like the local playground, restaurants, movie theater, and sporting events.
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome
Tony Attwood’s The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome is a popular go-to reference for parents, teachers, and medical professionals. This readable book uses both research from clinical studies and Attwood’s personal experiences to discuss a variety of interesting topics. They include causes and indications of Asperger’s, theory of mind, friendship, and other social interactions. He also looks at the effects of Asperger’s on language and cognitive abilities, among other things.
Crazy Love: A Traumedy About Life with Autism
Crazy Love may not discuss brain function and social cues from a scientific perspective. However, there’s no question this book, subtitled “A Traumedy About Life with Autism,” is a must-read for any parent of a child on the autism spectrum. Author Sharie Walter presents a collection of experiences with her autistic daughter that will make any reader laugh out loud. One memorable story involves Macy’s store security notifying Walter that her five-year old was about to board a crowded elevator while dragging a naked mannequin by its head.
Dasha’s Journal: A Cat Reflects on Life, Catness, and Autism
Everyone in the family will find something to love about Dasha’s Journal, which provides a totally unique perspective on families and autism. It’s written from the perspective of the family cat, Dasha. This fun, yet informative book deals with common challenges, effective communication, sensory perceptions, and challenging behaviors — all with a bit of humor.
Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders
Dr. Robert Melillo
In Disconnected Kids, Dr. Robert Melillo presents his program for improving the lives of autistic children and their families. This bestselling book, rated 4.5 stars by Amazon consumers, outlines Melillo’s successful Brain Balance Program ™. This is a drug-free at-home approach for dealing with Asperger’s, ADHD, OCD, and autism spectrum disorders. Sections include exercises targeting physical, sensory, and academic performance; behavior modification; and identifying food sensitivities, among others.
An Early Start for Your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate, and Learn
Sally J. Rogers, Geraldine Dawson, and Laurie A. Vismara
The three doctors who collaborated to write An Early Start for Your Child with Autism are all advocates for early intervention for children on the autism spectrum. It’s organized in easy-to-understand sections. Helpful and encouraging, this book provides parents with the know-how to turn even the simplest day-to-day tasks — dinner or bath time, for example — into valuable learning experiences.
Eating for Autism: The 10-Step Nutrition Plan to Help Treat Your Child’s Autism, Asperger’s, or ADHD
Thousands of families have found Elizabeth Strickland’s Eating for Autism to be life changing. Strickland explains how and why the things that children eat impacts their brain and body function. She outlines a 10-step plan that makes it easy for families to adjust their diets. She shows how to add in foods and supplements proven to improve kids’ moods, sleeping patterns, learning abilities, and behavior. Strickland even includes 75 kid-friendly recipes!
Everyday Games for Sensory Processing Disorder: 100 Playful Activities to Empower Children with Sensory Differences
Barbara Sher is an occupational therapist. Everyday Games for Sensory Processing Disorder is a resource for parents and teachers looking to manage their child’s SPD. As an advocate for learning through play, Sher provides her readers with an easy-to-understand summary of Sensory Processing Disorder. She includes 100 ideas for fun, yet simple games that anyone can play with a child.
Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger’s
Lynn Kern Koegel and Claire LaZebnik
This book is a must-read for parents of children on the spectrum, as well as those who are themselves affected by autism. It’s especially helpful when it comes to dealing with topics not often discussed in books about autism. These include puberty and other body change issues, first crushes and other romantic relationships, and success in transitioning to college.
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism
John Donovan and Caren Zucker
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism is John Donovan and Caren Zucker’s sweeping book about the history of autism. It was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. The book tracks our understanding of autism and the autism spectrum from the first child diagnosed nearly 75 years ago through today.
Inside Asperger’s Looking Out
Kathy Hoopmann’s beloved Inside Asperger’s Looking Out is a must-have for any classroom or household where there are autistic members. Through honest, sometimes humorous text and interesting color photographs, Inside Asperger’s Looking Out compares the ways in which neurotypicals and those with autism see the world.
Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System
Kelly J. Mahler
In this great book about autism, author Kelly J. Mahler asserts that an eighth sensory system called the interoception system exists as part of the human body. This eighth system, Mahler says, “enables us to experience essential feelings such as hunger, fullness, thirst, itch, pain, body temperature, nausea, need for the bathroom, tickle, physical exertion, and sexual arousal.” Mahler ensures readers are up-to-date on the latest thinking about interoception and the autism spectrum. The author uses various research studies on the topic to provide tips for helping individuals manage their bodies and emotions.
Look at My Eyes: Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism and PDD-NOS
Melanie and Seth Fowler
Authors Melanie and Seth Fowler are the parents of a son with PDD-NOS — pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. They provide readers with tips about overcoming everyday challenges with a child on the autism spectrum, plus inspiration for conquering activities and challenges.
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s
John Elder Robison
John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye is one of the most popular and bestselling books about the topic of autism. Robison provides little factual information based on research or the latest scientific studies. But he does offer a lifetime of personal experiences that are, for many readers, even more helpful.
The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults
Temple Grandin, Ph.D. and Debra Moore, Ph.D.
Long-time autism advocate Temple Grandin is the author of this necessary bestselling book The Loving Push. Grandin asserts that preparing an autistic child for life as a successful adult begins on day one. Grandin and co-author Dr. Debra Moore, lay out an easy-to-follow guide for motivating a child on the autism spectrum through the childhood and teen years with help and understanding. Must-read topics include building on a child’s strengths, the importance of spending time off of the computer, and encouraging kids to care about their own lives.
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
“What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius?” That’s the question with which Steve Silberman begins this book. A New York Times bestseller, NeuroTribes discusses the little known parts in the story of autism. It focuses especially on those early figures who defined “autism” in remarkably different ways than modern researchers do. NeuroTribes is chock-full of fascinating, little known facts about the autism spectrum. It ultimately makes the argument that autism, dyslexia, and ADHD are the results of various natural variations in the human genome. They are not, Silberman argues, errors of nature like they are often considered.
The New Social Story Book
Carol Gray has been publishing her Social Stories books for nearly two decades. Each includes a series of interesting, entertaining, and easy-to-follow stories to which students on the autism spectrum can relate. Autistic children will enjoy the stories with familiar characters and perspectives. Teachers and educators are sure to value the helpful themes and topics that make navigating behavior and other social issues easy.
No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior
Jed Baker, Ph.D.
After more than 20 years working closely with autistic children, Dr. Jed Baker wrote his bestselling book No More Meltdowns. Written for both parents and educators of children on the autism spectrum, this book offers dozens of strategies for both preventing and managing meltdowns.
The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder
Carol Stock Kranowitz
Carol Stock Kranowitz’s The Out-of-Sync Child has long been a bestseller. Kranowitz summarizes in layman’s terms many of the most common — and commonly misdiagnosed — symptoms and behaviors of autism spectrum disorder. She then lays out a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, drug-free approach for dealing with these symptoms in a manageable way. Sections and chapters include information on picky eaters, posture and motor coordination, responsivity to sounds and sights, and much more.
Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Child’s Life
Lynn Kern Koegel and Claire LaZebnik
Overcoming Autism was written by Lynn Kern Koegel, the head of the University of California’s Autism Research Center, and Claire LaZebnik, the mother of a child with autism. It’s a must-have read which is routinely updated to reflect the most recent research and information. The two knowledgeable authors provide readers with time-tested approaches to autism in the home and classroom. There’s also a bevy of information on everything from finding community support to implementing specific exercises to improve day-to-day function.
Parenting Across the Autism Spectrum: Unexpected Lessons We Have Learned
Maureen Morrell and Ann Palmer
Both Maureen Morrell and Ann Palmer have sons on the autism spectrum. The two boys could not be any more different. While one is introverted and passive, the other is a constant whirlwind of activity. Parenting Across the Autism Spectrum is a practical guide for parents and families dealing with a new diagnosis or young child on the autism spectrum. It’s also a deeply personal account of these two mothers’ experiences raising children on the spectrum.
Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum
While most books about autism are written to apply to all, Eileen Riley-Hall’s Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum is written for parents with autistic daughters. This unique perspective makes this book especially helpful. It covers such topics as friendships, first crushes and puberty, along with the more typical topics of meltdowns, going to school, and various therapies and interventions.
Population One: Autism, Adversity, and the Will to Succeed
Teens and young adults with autism (along with their parents and teachers) are sure to find inspiration in Population One. Written by Tyler McNamer at the age of 17, Population One is a collection of reflections from Tyler’s life. It includes many of his experiences both overwhelmingly heartbreaking and joyously triumphant.
The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain
This book provides a wealth of basic information that parents and educators can use as they continue to research autism as it affects them specifically. Armstrong summarizes the evolution of brain “disabilities” as defined by the American Psychiatric Association over the last half decade. He then argues that what the majority of society thinks of neuropsychological disorders is all wrong. Instead, he says, we should think of them as a “part of the natural diversity of the human brain, and they cannot simply be defined as illnesses.”
A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know
Fred R. Volkmar and Lisa A. Wiesner
Whatever you may want to know about autism and the autism spectrum, it’s in this book. Fred R. Volkmar and Lisa A. Wiesner have spent years researching the potential causes and effects of autism. In their bestseller A Practical Guide to Autism, they break down complex scientific ideas into easy-to-understand summaries and synopses. This popular, top-rated book is a must-read for any parent or educator who strives to better understand the world of autism.
The PRT Pocket Guide: Pivotal Response Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Lynn Kern Koegel and Robert Koegel
Parents, educators, and therapists interested in the Pivotal Response Treatment for autism will find The PRT Pocket Guide to be the helpful resource they’re looking for. This concise read provides the research behind PRT and illustrates to readers how the treatment should look when practiced. It even offers some examples of how to most effectively use it.
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year Old Boy with Autism
Despite being nearly non-verbal, Naoki Higashida began composing his bestselling book, The Reason I Jump while in middle school. Higashida used an alphabet grid to very carefully work out answers to the questions be thinks most people wonder about him. With deep, emotional, and inspiring responses, Higashida answers questions like: Why do you talk so loudly?, Would you like to be normal?, and Is it true you hate being touched?
Self-Regulation and Mindfulness: Over 82 Exercises & Worksheets for Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder
Children and teens on the spectrum are sure to enjoy this popular book by Varleisha Gibbs, PhD, OTD, OTR/L. Gibbs has included more than 82 practical and age-appropriate worksheets and activities. These are meant to help those with autism better understand their brain and body. Activities are especially designed to help with such challenges as oral motor skills, vision and sound skills, right and left brain integration, patterns and repetition, and movement coordination, to name a few.
The Social Skills Picture Book
Jed Baker, Ph.D.
Because many children on the autism spectrum learn best via pictures, Dr. Jed Baker created The Social Skills Picture Book. Winner of the iParenting Media Award, The Social Skills Picture Book helps children on the autism spectrum learn appropriate social behaviors. In each set of color photos, kids illustrate both the “right” way and the “wrong” way to act in various common situations. This book is a valuable resource for both parents and educators of children with autism.
Special People, Special Ways
Special People, Special Ways is a rhyming children’s book by Arlene Maguire. With colorful watercolor illustrations, Special People, Special Ways uses positive images to describe children with varying disabilities, including autism. The book has won a long list of awards, including the iParenting Media Award and the Preferred Choice Award by Creative Child Magazine.
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
The “Ten Things” referenced in the title correspond to this bestseller’s 10 chapters. Each focuses on a positive message meant for the friends, teachers, and family members of children with autism. The author has sons with both ADHD and autism. Her personal stories and words of encouragement all come off as genuine. In the book’s updated and expanded edition, Notbohm include an additional section: “Ten Things I Want My High School Senior with Autism to Know.”
Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew
Like her book above, Ellen Notbohm’s Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew is a must-have resource for any educator’s bookshelf. Notbohm organizes her book from the perspective of an autistic child. These offer unique insights into such topics as common thinking patterns, conducive learning environments, and effective communication.
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism
Autism advocate and icon Temple Grandin discusses her lifetime of living on the spectrum. She grew up with what was at the time a little-understood disability. She went on to become one of the foremost experts of livestock handling in the United States. Grandin tells her story while simultaneously commenting on the things that make us all human.
Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham, and Carol Greenburg (Editors)
Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is the reference book that parents, educators, and therapists are likely to be pulling off the shelf with frequency. Carefully curated and based on the latest of research, this must-have book about autism includes valuable information about every topic related to autism and the autism spectrum.
Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
Barry M. Prizant
In Uniquely Human author Barry M. Prizant writes from the far-too-uncommon view that autism is simply “a unique way of being human.” Many autism therapies focus on getting rid of autism. Prizant advocates for a new approach which seeks to understand each individual’s experience and behaviors. The bestseller has been referred to as a “must read” for parents with newly diagnosed children on the autism spectrum. It’s also for families struggling to find a balance in the relationship with their autistic family member.
The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders
Mary Barbera and Tracy Rasmussen
Parents and educators of autistic children with little or no speech abilities will find this book by Mary Barbera and Tracy Rasmussen helpful. The Verbal Behavior Approach provides readers with step-by-step instructions on such things as teaching sign language to a non-verbal child, reducing problem behavior, and teaching hygiene and other self-help skills.
The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s
Dr. Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin is an autism advocate and scientist. She offers parents, educators, and therapists of those with autism a well-organized reference for all things autism related. Grandin discusses helpful dos and don’ts, tips for overcoming common challenges, and plenty of practical strategies. All of these are based on her unique perspective of having autism herself.
We Said, They Said: 50 Things Parents and Teachers of Students with Autism Want Each Other to Know
Educating a child on the autism spectrum can be a challenge, as can sending one’s child off to spend the day with another adult. What tends to be even more challenging is effectively communicating from teacher to parent, and vice versa. In We Said, They Said, the author presents the 50 most common things parents and teachers of students with autism want each other to know. Each “thing” Zupke mentions is based on hundreds of interviews with parents, teachers, and school administrators. It’s meant to clarify common misconceptions on each side and create trust between a child’s school and home.
What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism: A Mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years
Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D.
Families just learning to live with a newly diagnosed child on the autism spectrum are sure to appreciate this bestseller. It’s co-written by a psychologist and a mother of a child with autism. What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism provides an honest look at such topics as navigating the judgmental world of parenting, dealing with picky eaters, bedtime battles, speech delays, discipline, early intervention, sibling rivalry, and much more.
The World of the Autistic Child
The World of the Autistic Child is a bestselling compendium of valuable information. Dr. Bryna Siegel is a developmental psychologist and the director of a large university clinic for autistic children. Dr. Siegel writes in a straightforward and sympathetic style. She provides parents of children on the autism spectrum with information on topics such as selecting the right school, communicating with teachers, the latest psychoactive medications, allergy treatments, special diets, and much more.
Interested in books about autism written specifically for parents and educators? Find the 30 best here!