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National Autism Network


12 Must Read Books for the Autism Parent

Posted by National Autism Network , in For Family Members, Strategies for Parents, Human Interest, Autism Awareness 05 October 2015 · 3,621 views

autism books
12 Must Read Books for the Autism Parent Whether you are a parent to a child on the spectrum, a family member or even a provider working with the community, we have no doubt that you have sought information about the disorder either online or through one of the thousands of books that have been published.  The resources and information available is vast and the sheer number can overwhelming.  To help with this, National Autism Network has compiled a list of a dozen books we feel provide a wide range of valuable information. Written by individuals on the spectrum, respected professionals, and parents of children with autism, the books below will provide you with more knowledge about autism as a disorder, real life strategies for raising a child on the spectrum and a greater understanding of how an individual with autism experiences life.

1. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
By Dr. Barry Prizant
Dr. Barry Prizant currently serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Study of Human Development at Brown University. For the past decade, he and his colleagues have focused on development of the SCERTS® Model of autism intervention. He is the co-author of several books and has received several accolades from the autism community, including being an invited speaker at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day in 2013.

Dr. Prizant's latest book is predicated on the notion that children on the autism spectrum don't need to be changed or "fixed," but instead understood and accepted. The first half of the book focuses on how to better understand individuals on the spectrum by offering examples, such as how a child's intense interests could be viewed as something to cultivate rather than labeling it as an unhealthy "obsession." The latter half of the book includes advice from experienced parents, as well as enlightening words from individuals on the spectrum who discuss what life has been like for them. In all, the book contains a series of real-world experiences, including heartbreaking stories of children with autism who have been greatly misunderstood, which serve as overwhelming evidence for the need for a societal shift in the way individuals view the disorder.

2. Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised): The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism
By Chantal Sicile-Kira
Chantal Sicile-Kira has been involved with autism spectrum disorders for over 25 years as both a parent and a professional. She is the founder of Autism College, an organization that works to educate parents and professionals to ensure they have the resources necessary to make educational and therapeutic decisions for the people with autism in their lives. She is the author of several books and was the recipient of the 2005 Autism Society of America's Outstanding Literary Book of the Year Award for the first edition of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The revised edition of Autism Spectrum Disorder was released in 2014 and is designed to advise parents where and how and what kind of help to get, including the most effective resources. The book includes numerous quotes from those on the spectrum as a means of illustrating the uniqueness of autism disorder and how what works for one child may not work for another because every child on the spectrum is different. In the nearly ten years since the release of the first edition, Sicile-Kira believes one of the biggest differences is that there is a greater emphasis on educating children with autism in such a way that they play to their strengths to help those on the spectrum lead productive, independent lives. As opposed to focusing on "normalizing" individuals with the disorder.

3. Autism Every Day: Over 150 Strategies Lived and Learned by a Professional Autism Consultant with 3 Sons on the Spectrum
By Alyson Beytien
Alison Beytien is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a member of the diagnostic team at the Mercy Center for Autism. Recently, she assisted the U.S. Department of Defense by developing videos designed to assist military families as they raise children with autism. Her book, Autism Everyday, was awarded the 2012 Outstanding Literary Work of the Year by the Autism Society of America.

The title of Autism Everyday pretty much speaks for itself with over 150 strategies developed from the experiences of Alyson Beytien as both a parent and professional. These "tried-and-true" techniques are applicable for children with autism at home, in the school, and the community. Readers can expect advice on a range of topics, from picky-eating and echolalia to IEPs and social outings. The book follows the theme of the Beytien family mantra: "Improvise and Overcome!"

4. The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed
By Temple Grandin
Perhaps the best known individual within the autism community, Temple Grandin is an autism advocate, best-selling author, inventor, and professor of animal science at Colorado State University. In 2010, Time Magazine named Grandin one of the hundred most influential people in the world, named in the Heroes category. In 2010, HBO released the award-winning biopic Temple Grandin with Claire Danes taking on the role of Grandin.

In The Autistic Brain, Grandin intertwines the latest scientific advances with her own personal experiences of growing up with autism in a time when the disorder was entirely misunderstood. Within the pages of this text, readers will discover the advances in neuroimaging and genetic research that link science to behavior. Grandin even shares her own brain scan. Additionally, she argues that raising and educating children on the spectrum should foremost focus on the often "over-looked" strengths of individuals with autism to foster their abilities.

5. The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders
By Mary Barbera and Tracy Rasmussen
Mary Barbera is a Board Certified Behavior Analysis and founder of the Autism Society of Berks County. In 1999 her eldest son Lucas was diagnosed with autism one day before his third birthday, inspiring Barbera to focus her attention and research on autism spectrum disorders.

This book is designed to help parents and professionals grasp the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and B.F. Skinner's Analysis of Verbal Behavior in order for them to immediately use the verbal behavior approach to teach language to children with autism. The book also includes tips on how to teach non-verbal children sign language. Additionally, an entire chapter is devoted to information regarding ways to reduce problem behavior, toileting, and other important self-help skills. Ideally, readers will find the complex information regarding this innovative, scientifically sound treatment explained in a seamless and simple fashion. The book also includes information about coping, denial, and how to be an advocate as a parent.

6. A Parent's Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive
By Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, and James C. McPartland
Dr. Sally Ozonoff currently resides as Vice Chair of Research at UC Davis' Department of Behavioral Sciences. She has co-authored more than 100 publications, written four books, and is the Joint Editor for the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and on the editorial boards for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Autism Research.

Dr. Geraldine Dawson is the co-developer of the intervention for autism known as the Early Start Denver Model. She is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Psychology, and Neuroscience and Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development at Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. James C. McPartland is an Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. His research focuses on the investigation of the brain bases of neurodevelopmental disabilities to develop biologically-based tools for detection and treatment. Among his research supporters are Autism Speaks, the Simons Foundation, and the Autism Science Foundation.

Thousands of parents of children with high-functioning autism or Asperger's have gained wisdom from the leading experts who authored this book. Readers will learn about how ASD is diagnosed and how supports and treatments really work. This most recent edition explains the implications of the diagnostic changes found in the DSM-V for individuals with Asperger’s. Parents who read this book are not only armed with more knowledge about their child's disorder, but also left with a sense of hope that they can lead happy and successful lives.

7. Everybody is Different: A Book for Young People Who Have Brothers or Sisters With Autism
By Fiona Bleach
Fiona Bleach, an art therapist, is the author and illustrator of this work.

This is a great resource for educating children about the complexities of autism spectrum disorder and why individuals on the spectrum exhibit certain behaviors. In addition to explaining the characteristics of autism, this book discusses ways to help make life more comfortable for the family as a whole. The book includes several illustrations to assist in engaging young people.

8. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and Future of Neurodiversity
By Steve Silberman
Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New Yorker, MIT Technology Review, and in other esteemed publications. His March 2015 TED talk, titled "The Forgotten History of Autism," has been viewed nearly 1 million times in less than a year and has been translated into 13 languages.

A New York Times bestseller, Neurotribes, unearths "the secret history of autism," which were reportedly suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it. Specifically, the book answers the question as to why the number of autism diagnoses has risen so dramatically in recent years. The work spans decades, chronicling the journey of people with autism and their families, while creating a path for society toward a more accepting world for people on the spectrum. In the text, Silberman also reveals the untold story of the father of Asperger's syndrome, Hans Asperger, whose "little professors" where targeted by the "darkest social-engineering experiment in human history."

9. Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed; Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autism
By Jeannie Davide-Rivera
Jeannie Davide-Rivera is an award-winning author and professional blogger with Asperger's. Her writing focuses on educating individuals about what it is like to have autism by sharing her struggles and triumphs from school to relationships. She is also the mother of three boys with autism.

This memoir begins by bringing the reader into the mind of a child with autism. Gradually, she grows into adolescence and adulthood, becoming a wife, mother, student, and writer. At age 38, she discovers that she is on the autism spectrum, an experience that helps to explain the issues, problems, and "weirdness" that surrounded her throughout her life. Her heartfelt story will speak to "Aspie" and neurotypical readers alike.

10.  An Early Start for Your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate, and Learn
By Sally Rogers, Geraldine Dawson, and Laurie A. Vismara
Dr. Sally Rogers is the co-developer of the Early Start Denver Model with Dr. Geraldine Dawson. She is currently a professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis Mind Institute.  Her work is primarily centered on early social, cognitive, and emotional development, the development of motor skills, communication, imitation, and language in children with severe disabilities. Dr. Rogers also serves on the editorial board of many autism-related publications, including The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, and Infants and Young Children.

Laurie A. Vismara is an assistant research scientist at UC Davis. She is also a board-certified Applied Behavior Analyst in the state of California.

This book is based upon cutting-edge research indicating that parents can play an intricate role in teaching the youngest of children with ASDs how to connect with others and live up to their potential. Information includes how to turn everyday activities into rich learning experiences that target specific developmental skills, all while strengthening the parent-child bond. Readers are provided "step-by-step" strategies that help parents promote play and language acquisition during daily routines.

11.  The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
By Naoki Higashida
Naoki Higashida is a very self-aware individual with autism who has written and published more than twenty books of fiction and non-fiction since 2004. As you can tell by the title of this work, Higashida wrote this memoir at the age of 13 in 2005. However, it was not until the work was translated by David Mitchell in 2013 did it become available to mainstream audiences.

This “one-of-a-kind memoir” allows readers to get a glimpse at how the mind of a person with autism thinks, feels, perceives, and responds. The book contains 58-questions that are often asked about autism and the non-verbal Higashida’s written responses. In his own words, writing “was a way for me to connect with the world. So I became a writer.” The memoir was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek and Bookish. Additionally, it was a New York Times bestseller.

12.  Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives
By John Elder Robison
John Elder Robison has Asperger’s but was not diagnosed with the disorder until late adulthood. He is currently a speaker and an advocate for people with autism and is currently active on boards and the committees of the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and a number of colleges and universities. His son, Jack “Cubby” Robison is the subject of this work.

This story gives the reader a unique perspective of fathering a child on the spectrum as an individual with Asperger’s. His son, Cubby, appeared to be flourishing without incident until the school claimed he was “dumb and stubborn,” causing the Robison family to question if Cubby falls somewhere on the spectrum. By his late teens, Cubby was a “brilliant and curious chemist,” so much so that he was able to make military-grade explosives and bring federal agents to their door. This incident forced both father and son to take stock of their lives, realizing that being on the spectrum is “both a challenge and a unique gift.” This lighthearted and inspiring new book chronicle a truly unique father-son relationship.

Although by no means exhaustive, the books above represent a wide range of information from some of the most respected individuals within the autism community.  We hope the readers who delve within the pages of these books are greeted with a vast knowledge of autism’s history, real life strategies, a greater understanding  of autism and, at times, will be moved by these emotional passages. If you have any other suggestions for great autism-related works, please sound off in the comment section below!

Marcia Hinds
Oct 19 2015 10:12 AM
I would like to add my book to the list.  
I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE - winning our war against autism by Marcia Hinds
An autism diagnosis doesn't have to mean GAME OVER! I wrote "I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE - winning our war on autism" to share what it took me over a decade to learn. My son is now an aerospace engineer.  When he was first diagnosed I was told an institution was in his future. Recovery wasn't easy, but autism is treatable when you address the medical problems with the immune system. That only makes it possible for our kids to learn. At the same time, you must add a focused rehab program to teach our children all they missed. Pick whatever one you like ABA, Son-rise, Verbal Behavior, Floortime or any one you like. They all work if you stick with it and learning becomes possible.

You can preview the book on Amazon when you click on "Look Inside" above the book cover.
Here is the link: http://www.amazon.co...tmm_pap_title_0
Don't miss the foreword written by Ryan, my son. All profits go to spread the word that autism is treatable. Ryan is now an aerospace engineer at a major company. His social skills are so advanced that he is the liaison between the company and their customers. I never saw that one coming when we were stuck on Autism Island!

Ryan surpassed all of my expectations, but it took time. When my son was in middle school and at the beginning of high school, my dream was that one day he might be able to hold a job at McDonald’s and live independently. I didn’t realize that full recovery was a possibility back then. If any of you had told me his full recovery was possible at the beginning of this thing, I never would have believed you.

Lisa Gann McCarville
Apr 02 2016 11:21 PM
Nice list, some I need to buy on there! Thanks!