Books every parent of an autistic child should read in 2023
Updated: December 4, 2023 · 12 Minute Read
Amy Gong, Neurodiversity Advocate
- If your child was just diagnosed with autism, check out books by nonprofits like “Start Here” or parent guides.
- There are many important perspectives to learn from. Doctors, scientists, parents, and autistic individuals share their experience and advice to better support the autism community.
- We can’t forget about the female or nonbinary experience. Check out the books written by autistic and nonbinary women on this list!
We’ve put together a list of some of the best books a parent can read about autism whether you want to hear from professionals, autistic individuals, or parents who were once right where you are,
6 parenting books we recommend:
If you’re looking for an easy place to start…
Start Here: a guide for parents of autistic kids by Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Start Here, written by autistic individuals and parents of autistic kids, was created to teach parents the facts about autism. This guide covers what autism is, how to find good services for your child, understand your child’s educational rights, how you can support your child as they grow, and much more!
If you’re looking for a hilarious yet honest look at parenting a neurodivergent child…
Your Child is Not Broken: Parent Your Neurodivergent Child Without Losing Your Marbles by Heidi Mavir
Written by Heidi Mavir, a neurodivergent adult, public speaker, advocate, author, podcaster, and parent of an autistic teenager, Your Child is Not Broken is a book for parents seeking permission to do things differently. A hybrid autobiography and parenting manual, Your Child is Not Broken shares the story of Heidi’s discovery of her child’s neurodivergence, her fight to properly advocate for her child, and is filled with advice for parents looking to do things a little differently.
If you need some tips to survive parenthood…
The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide (for Dads, too!): Creating a Balanced and Happy Life While Raising a Child with Autism by Susan Senator
Susan Senator’s The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide was written specifically to help moms (and dads) navigate the challenging, scary, rewarding world of parenting a child on the autism spectrum. Senator shares her own personal experiences of raising her autistic son as well as stories from other parents. The book shares ideas and tips on how to handle hard feelings, take care of your marriage, enjoy your life as an adult (not just a parent), deal with outside opinions, and much more!
If you’re a parent or couple struggling with your child’s autism diagnosis…
Forever Boy: A Mother’s Memoir of Autism and Finding Joy by Kate Swenson
Kate Swenson, creator of the successful blog Finding Cooper’s Voice shares the story of her son’s autism and the journey it took her on. When Swenson’s son was diagnosed at age three, she was not at all prepared and initially experienced grief over her broken dreams of a “perfect” family. The book follows Swenson’s journey, from the birth of her son, through the struggles during the early days of his diagnosis, and how she found the strength and joy she has today. Forever Boy is filled with honesty and compassion and offers hope to any parent embarking on this journey with their child.
For a father’s perspective…
Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love From His Extraordinary Son by Tom Fields-Meyer
In Following Ezra, Tom Fields-Meyer chronicle’s his son Ezra’s toddler years through his bar mitzvah. Rather than trying to explain or overanalyze his son, Fields-Meyer chooses to simply tell his son’s story and his experience as a father. Fields-Meyer chooses not to impose expectations or personal desires on Ezra, and rather observe and allow Ezra to follow his own personal interests.
In the book, Fields-Meyer shares that he was advised early on to “grieve for the child he didn’t turn out to be.” But he and his wife quickly realized there was nothing to grieve and rather just a need to adjust.
If you want to learn how to better understand your autistic child…
Uniquely Human: Updated and Expanded: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant
Rather than focusing on techniques and strategies to rid a child of their autistic qualities, Uniquely Human offers insight into the day-to-day experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum. Author Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., explores how family, friends, caregivers, and teachers of autistic individuals can learn to better support their loved ones by better understanding their behaviors, rather than attempting to change them. An updated and expanded version of Prizant’s first publication of Uniquely Human, this version covers new language such as shifting from “person-first language” to “identity-first language,” diversity of identity in autism, and the future of autistic advocacy by amplifying the voices of autistic and neurodivergent individuals.
5 important books by autistic writers:
If you want to help your child reach their full potential…
Navigating Autism: 9 Mindsets For Helping Kids on the Spectrum by Temple Grandin
In Navigating Autism, Temple Grandin teams up with psychologist Debra Moore to present nine different strength-based mindsets to help anyone successfully work with young people on the autism spectrum. Grandin and Moore use examples and real-life stories to explain the different mindsets presented in the book and offer suggestions and checklists to help readers put the mindsets to use. Some of the mindsets presented in the book include, “Every child is more than autism,” “Prepare kids for the real world,” and “Focus on strengths, not deficits.”
If you want to hear stories from a diverse group of autistic individuals…
Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity by Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network
Sincerely, Your Autistic Child is a collection of personal stories told by a diverse group of autistic individuals. Contributors to Sincerely, Your Autistic Child include people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, socioeconomic, and gender backgrounds all on the autism spectrum. Meant to be a resource for parents, the writers of this book share their own stories about growing up and offer advice on how parents today can avoid some of the common mistakes that can happen when raising a child on the spectrum. The book covers a wide range of topics including education, culture, gender identity, and sexuality.
If you want to read a book that challenges the traditional conversations around autism…
We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation by Eric Garcia
We’re Not Broken was written by Eric Garcia, an autistic journalist, who says he wrote the book (at least partially) out of his own frustration over the traditional conversations being held about autism. He felt that too often the conversation was about autism and lacked the inclusion of autistic voices and opinions. While the book covers many different topics from education to healthcare and so much more, one common message Garcia conveys throughout the book is that as a society our focus needs to shift from trying to “fix” autism to figuring out what can be done to help autistic people live better lives.
If you want to learn how to better connect with your autistic child…
Connecting With The Autism Spectrum: How To Talk, How To Listen, And Why You Shouldn’t Call It High-Functioning by Casey “Remrov” Vormer
Connecting with the Autism Spectrum was written by Casey “Remrov” Vormer, an autistic artist and writer. This guide-like book starts off with a brief introduction to what is autism. The rest of the book offers Vormer’s personal experiences and views on autism as well as tips to help you improve the way you communicate and ultimately understand the autistic loved ones in your life.
This book is a great introduction to autism and would be a great read for parents, family members, and friends of a newly diagnosed individual or anyone just starting their journey of learning about autism but may not be very helpful for anyone who is already well-versed in the world of autism.
If you’re looking to find common ground between parents of autistic children and autistic advocates…
I Will Die On This Hill: Autistic Adults, Autism Parents, and the Children Who Deserve a Better World by Meghan Ashburn & Jules Edwards
Whether you are active in online communities or have simply scrolled through different autism-focused social media accounts, there is an apparent divide between autistic advocates and non-autistic parents of autistic children. Written by Jules Edwards, an autistic mother and autism advocate, and Meghan Ashburn, a non-autistic mother of two autistic boys, I Will Die On This Hill attempts to unite both perspectives, while exploring the rift between the communities and ways both sides can work together towards a common goal.
3 books to read with older children and teens:
For a young female’s perspective…
Different, Not Less: A neurodivergent’s guide to embracing your true self and finding your happily ever after by Chloe Hayden
Chole Hayden is an actress, social media influencer, advocate, and now an author who was diagnosed with autism and ADHD when she was 13. Growing up, Hayden “felt like she’d crash-landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense.” As a child and teen, she struggled to try to “fit in” with her peers until a group of allies helped her learn to celebrate her true self and that different did not mean less.
Different, Not Less is part memoir and part practical guide. In the book, Hayden shares her personal autism story, as well as information on how autism and ADHD present differently in females. She also provides tips for living with meltdowns, how to find supportive relationships and communities, and much more.
For both a scientific and personal look at autism…
But You Don’t Look Autistic At All by Bianca Toeps
In But You Don’t Look Autistic At All, Bianca Toeps, an autistic web developer, photographer, and writer, explores what the science has to say about autism, her personal opinions on that, and her own experience growing up autistic. Toeps shares funny stories from her daily life and shares some useful tips for non-autistic people.
If you’re interested in the history of autism…
Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
NeuroTribes unravels the long and complicated history of autism. Steve Silberman traces the history of autism from when it was first coined to the modern day. He also explores how the views and approaches to an autism diagnosis have evolved throughout the years from childhood psychosis to today’s celebration of neurodiversity.
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