Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are something that has been a part of my family life for many years. Diagnoses have been had, courses have been studied, books and movies have been collected.
But whilst ASD has held a largely positive place in my family, in the day-to-day, autistic spectrum disorders are not always easy. And whilst books are not going to solve every problem encountered, they can be wonderful. Books that can be empowering and inspiring are particularly important, as everyone, including autistic and otherwise neuroatypical people, deserves to have books to which they can relate positively.
Of the books mentioned here, some were written by autistic people, men and women, about their experiences. Others aim to explain autism, and encourage understanding and acceptance, to children and adults who either have an autistic spectrum disorder, or are close to someone who does.
Asperger Syndrome, The Universe, And Everything was written by Kenneth Hall, a then 10-year-old boy with Asperger Syndrome. The warm and positive style in which he describes his experiences and perceptions make this book particularly appropriate, and at times inspiring, for other children with autism to read. Because the best people to tell us what it’s like to be a child with Asperger Syndrome, are children with Asperger Syndrome.
All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman is a delightful book, in which the qualities of (and difficulties experienced by) people with Asperger Syndrome, and other autistic spectrum disorders, are simply described. Each page of the book contains a large coloured photograph of a cat, illustrating the trait described on that page. As such this is a great book for explaining to small children, but people of any age will likely enjoy this book. There is also a sister book, All Dogs Have ADHD.
Also by Kathy Hoopman is Of Mice And Aliens: An Asperger Adventure. This is actually the second of three books in the An Asperger Adventure series, but each can be read as a stand alone story. Of Mice And Aliens is a children’s chapter book in which a young boy, recently diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, discovers an alien in his garden. The alien’s lack of familiarity with human social customs, colloquialisms, and so on, mirror the boys own difficulties. This tale uses humour to highlight the experiences of children with Aspergers Syndrome. This may therefore also be a good book for siblings and friends.
Luke Jackson wrote Freaks, Geeks, And Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide To Adolescence at the age of 13. In it, he describes his experiences with Asperger Syndrome, and growing up with six siblings, some of whom also have autistic spectrum disorders. This book functions as both memoir and guide to navigating and embracing life as an adolescent with Asperger Syndrome.
Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone was written by a woman with Asperger Syndrome, for other women and girls with Asperger Syndrome, but is also great for anyone with any interest in Asperger Syndrome. Girls with autistic spectrum disorders are less likely to receive a diagnosis, and then less likely to receive proper help. This book attempts to do it’s part to step in, acting as both a guide to navigating the difficulties, and as source of encouragement and empowerment.
With The Light: Raising An Autistic Child is a manga series by Keiko Tobe. It tells the story of a young mother raising an autistic son in modern Japan, and the struggles that both her son, and she, face. This was one of the first manga series to deal with disability, and to receive any attention.