Books for Insight, Strategies, Advice on ASD
I firmly believe that books are perfect for discussing the big issues in life and I have spoken on many occasions about books which support children who are experiencing grief, family breakdown, childhood illness, dyslexia, allergies and dealing with the jungle that is the school playground. I continue to be regualrly asked for books about the Autism Spectrum and so have convinced an expert in the field, Sally Daley (yes related…full disclosure!) to share her favourite books in this area. Thank you Sally!
In almost twenty years of working with children and young people on the Autism Spectrum, I have been asked many times for books that give insight, strategies and advice to make the journey easier. There are so many books available, it can actually be a bit of a minefield. Below are just some of the invaluable titles I have collected on my way. I have taught in both Australia and London in mainstream and specialist settings. I gained my Masters in Autism in the UK whilst working as an ASD Outreach Teacher. Now based in Brisbane, I work with a fantastic business called Places You’ll Go (more information at the end of this post).
To add these books to your home, school or professional library click on title links.
Something Else by Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell
Something Else is excluded from everything because he looks different. He does not play the same games, eat the same food or draw the same pictures. Something Else is a truly thoughtful book which could initiate group discussions and conversations around how everyone is unique and special in their own way. Winner of the first UNESCO Prize for Children’s Literature and shortlisted for the Smarties Prize and the Kate Greenaway Medal.
This award-winning book illuminates what it means to be a person who has Aspergers Syndrome by providing a window into a unique and particular world. Clare Sainsbury draws on her own experience of schooling, and that of a network of friends and correspondents who share her way of thinking and responding.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon
This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
Freeks, Geeks and Asperger’s Syndrome by Luke Jackson
This is a non-fiction book about what it is like having Asperger Syndrome. The book was written by the then 13-year-old Luke Jackson who has Asperger Syndrome himself. Luke wrote the book because he thought that there were not enough useful things on the internet about the subject.
The point of the book is to explain that it is fine to be different. Luke goes through the problems that people with Asperger Syndrome face such as trouble reading facial expressions and body language. Luke Jackson lives in a family with three brothers and three sisters and his siblings have related difficulties as well.
Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
Traces the inspiring story of an autistic savant with genius-level mathematical talents, describing how he was eschewed by his classmates in spite of his near-photographic memory and super-human capacity for math and language, in a firsthand account that offers insight into how he experiences the world.
Pedro’s Whale by Patrick Schwarz and Paula Kluth
Pedro, a young boy who loves whales more than anything, is heartbroken when he’s told to put away his favourite toy whale on the first day of school. But then Pedro’s teacher discovers the secret to helping him do his best work: not only giving him his whale, but also incorporating his special interest into the whole curriculum. Soon, Pedro’s whale is helping all the children learn, as the teacher works whales into math lessons, story time, simple science experiments, and more! Pedro’s whale helps him make friends, too, as the other children start to share his special interest.
When the eccentric drifter Vivienne Freeman gets a ride from a reluctant recluse Alex Hughes (Alan Rickman), she is killed by a transport truck side ramming the car, while Alex only gets a nosebleed. Everybody agrees that it is not Alex’s fault. He visits Vivienne’s mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver), to deliver Vivienne’s gifts and to provide support. She has been informed about her daughter’s death a few hours before Alex’s visit, but does not show any signs of grief. However, she has a cleanliness mania which involves her constantly making sure everything in her home is neat, and prevents her from touching garbage bags. Her problem is finding someone who will put the garbage outside to be collected, as this was always something done by her daughter. Linda insists that Alex stay a few days so that he can do it for her. He agrees and also arranges Vivienne’s funeral.
During the course of making the movie, Weaver researched the subject of autism and was coached by Ros Blackburn, a woman with the condition who is also an author and speaker about autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
Different Like Me – My Book of Autism Heroes by Jennifer Elder
Eight-year-old Quinn, a young boy with AS, tells young readers about the achievements and characteristics of his autism heroes, from Albert Einstein, to Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Banneker and Julia Bowman Robinson, among others. All excel in different fields, but are united by the fact that they often found it difficult to fit in-just like Quinn.
Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin is a gifted and successful animal scientist, and she is autistic. Here she tells us what it was like to grow up perceiving the world in an entirely concrete and visual way – somewhat akin to how animals think, she believes – and how it feels now.
This has also been made into a movie called ‘Temple Grandin’
A Double Shot of Happiness by Judy Sharp
The inspirational story of how a boy diagnosed with severe autism went on to become one of Australia’s best-known international artists and the creator of Laser Beak Man. It’s a story that has involved many hurdles, moments of despair and incredible hard work from Tim, Judy, his brother Sam and all those who have helped them, but that is ultimately moving, inspiring and triumphant.
It’s Raning Cats and Dogs by Michael Barton
This book features 72 witty drawings illustrating how people on the autism spectrum interpret figurative language. It will inspire and give confidence to those on the spectrum to recognise figures of speech, feel less alienated and even use idioms themselves.
Each chapter is divided in two parts: the first part – the Workbook – is for the child to complete, by writing or highlighting “What is True for Me” in lists of simple statements. The second part – “For Parents and Teachers” – contains helpful tips/information for the adult who guides him through the exercises. The book will provide insight into your child’s mind, and make him/her more self-aware, learning what autism means in relation to crucial areas of his/her life: friendships, fears, abilities, and much more
Exploring Feelings – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage Anger by Tony Attwood
These books provide a guide for caregivers and then the workbook section allows children to identify situations that make them anxious and learn how to perceive the situation differently. There are two titles in the series. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy program Exploring Feelings was designed to be highly structured, interesting and successful in encouraging the cognitive control of emotions
Social Behaviour Mapping: Connecting Behaviour, Emotions and Consequences Across the Day by Michelle Garcia
Social Behaviour Mapping offers cognitive behaviour strategy to teach individuals about the specific relationship between behaviours, others’ perspectives, others’ actions (consequences) and the student’s own emotions about those around him or her.
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome is the definitive handbook for anyone affected by Asperger’s syndrome. It brings together a wealth of information on all aspects of the syndrome for children through to adults. Drawing on case studies and personal accounts from Attwood’s extensive clinical experience, and from his correspondence with individuals with AS, this book is both authoritative and extremely accessible.
In this book, Olga Bogdashina attempts to define the role of sensory perceptual problems in autism identified by autistic individuals themselves. This book singles out possible patterns of sensory experiences in autism and the cognitive differences caused by them. The final chapters are devoted to assessment and intervention issues with practical recommendations for selecting appropriate methods and techniques to eliminate the problems and enhance the strengths.
Engaging and easy to read, this illustrated children’s book is filled with opportunities for children to participate in developing their own self-calming strategies.
The Incredible Five Point Scale by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis
This provides a invaluable strategy to help children with ASD to understand and control their emotional responses.
Places You’ll Go was founded by Bernadette Beasley and has provided educational, legal and medical advocacy and case management services for many children, teenagers and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Our unique focus works with families, schools and Service providers to create effective learning and educational programs. These programs will blend training and consultancy, direct service delivery, educational guidance and research to build on current programs a student may be accessing such as psychology, speech therapy and occupational therapy to ensure a more child centred and multidisciplinary approach is used as is recommended as best practice for the support of individuals with ASD across the lifespan.