Books about autism

best books about autism and asperger's

To mark World Autism Awareness Week we've put together a list of the best books, recommended by Mumsnetters, about Autism and Asperger's for both parents and children

Books about Autism

books about autism

Neurotribes - by Steve Silberman

Neurotribes unearths the secret history of autism and finds surprising answers to the crucial question about why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. Author Steve Silberman discussed the book during a Mumsnet webchat in 2015, just after it won the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“A fascinating, positive and optimistic history and discussion of autism. It looks at the changing recognition of autism over the years as well as the changing claims of its causes and the different treatment styles.”

“The patients, parents, children and adults all get to tell their stories vividly and there is great emotion and poignancy to the chapters. This is as much of a book about humanity and love as it is about autism. A captivating read.”

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A Boy Made of Blocks

Author Keith Stuart draws on his own experiences of raising his autistic son for his debut novel, which makes for a refreshingly honest read. Alex struggles to find a way to connect with his autistic son, but when he and Sam discover a shared love of Minecraft, they begin to build a new understanding of each other. Funny and deeply moving.

A Boy Made of Blocks was Mumsnet's Book of the Month in February. Read the webchat with Keith Stuart.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“I absolutely loved this book – it didn't sugar-coat anything and really gave an insight into life with an autistic child and how some parents struggle. I thought it was amazing.”

“It reads so true to life – you can tell the author has first-hand experience having a child with autism. The book is searingly honest about the feelings that I imagine all parents have at some point.”

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George and Sam by Charlotte Moore

Charlotte Moore’s extraordinary book is funny, poignant and informative. She brilliantly conveys the daily life of living with two autistic sons and celebrates their differences. She also offers practical advice on everything from education, to diet and therapy.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“I have just finished reading George and Sam and I would recommend it as compulsory reading for everyone, let alone anyone who has a connection with autism or special needs. I felt that reading George and Sam was like reading my diary.”

“I think Charlotte Moore is inspirational. It was clear that she has accepted the 'otherness' of her sons absolutely, and that any interventions are used to make it easier for them to 'be' rather than to 'cure' them or change them."

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The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the behaviour of autistic children. The book was translated into English by author David Mitchell, who joined us for a webchat to discuss the book, his own experiences of raising an autistic child and to discuss Mumsnet's This Is My Child campaign in 2013.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“I think The Reason I Jump is opening people's eyes to the idea that people with severe autism might actually be intelligent. When my son was five I was given Lucy Blackman's book, Lucy's Story – it gave me hope (realistic hope as it happens), and I'm sure Naoki's book will do the same for many."

“Since my daughter was diagnosed with ASD, I have been concentrating on the practical side of things but reading Naoki's book has made me realise that I have been looking too much at what she can't do, as opposed to what she is doing and what she is communicating.”

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Thinking in Pictures - Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is a successful animal scientist, and she is autistic. In her autobiography she conveys what it was like growing up perceiving the world in an entirely visual way. Through her finely observed understanding of the workings of her mind, she gives us an invaluable insight into autism and its challenges.

Temple Grandin wrote a guest post for Mumsnet; “Let's Build on autistic children's strengths, not focus on their deficits” on publication of her book The Autistic Brain.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“I do quite a bit of training on autism and use Temple Grandin’s examples and videos a lot, particularly to get people to think in terms of strengths, not deficits. Her message here is such an important one, and she articulates the experience of having autism so well.”

“Temple Grandin is the inspiration for so many people affected by autism; and the person that helped me realise that people with high functioning autism are nearly all experts at something.”

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Books about Asperger's

books about asperger's syndrome

Aspergirls by Rudy Simone

This book, written by an 'Aspergirl,' guides the reader through every aspect of personal and professional life, and includes the reflections of over 30 women diagnosed as on the spectrum, as well as insights from their parents.

What Mumsnetters thought:

“I read Aspergirls and cried and laughed my way through it. It was really bizarre, as I felt I was reading a book that someone who didn't even know I existed had written all about me”.

“A very helpful contribution to understanding what it's like to be an older girl or woman with Aspergers, including chapters on gender identity, school, puberty, sex and relationships, employment, having children etc.”

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The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood

Tony Attwood is a clinical psychiatrist and a leading authority on Asperger’s Syndrome. His books are regularly recommended on the SN boards and this handbook is often described as the definitive handbook for anyone affected by Asperger's Syndrome (AS). It brings together a wealth of information on all aspects of the syndrome from children through to adults.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“Tony Attwood is the go-to man for Asperger’s, and this is the standard book recommended about AS. People kept recommending it to me and it is excellent as a starting point”.

“I'd highly recommend this book. Reading it was a light-bulb moment for me, leading to me finally deciding to request an assessment for my daughter (now diagnosed with AS) and for me (waiting for an assessment).”

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Martian in the Playground by Clare Sainsbury

Clare Sainsbury was diagnosed with AS after leaving school. In this award-winning book, she recounts her own experience of school life, and interviews over 20 other people with AS about theirs. The result is a brilliant account of what it's like to be a schoolchild with Asperger syndrome.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“Martian in the Playground is well regarded by adult aspies as being a good depiction of what it can be like having Asperger's and may help you decide whether your child needs a diagnosis – and if indeed, they do have AS, how they're coping compared to the stories in there.”

“There are lots of case studies from different people with AS in relation to their childhood and school life, and many felt very similar to my son. I found it useful, as it explained a lot of behaviour I had not even thought would be connected and I felt I understood him better for reading it."

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The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene

This book is aimed at parents with ‘chronically inflexible children’ so not specifically one about Asperger's, but so many parents of children with AS found his invaluable that we felt it important to include this in the list. Dr. Greene gives an understanding of why certain children act in this way and gives suggestions of ways to respond that are non-punitive, humane and effective.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“In my opinion, the absolute best book/approach is Ross Greene's 'The Explosive Child’. He also has a website called 'Lives in the balance'. It's all about collaboration, problem-solving and skills learning.”

“I found this book really helpful and it gave me food for thought and confidence to deal with the anger in a different way.”

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Books about Autism and Asperger's for Children and Teens

books about autism asperger's for kids

Ian's Walk: A Story about Autism

Told from the perspective of Ian's sister Julie, this is a brilliant book to read to siblings of autistic children. On a walk in the park, they are both frustrated and at times embarrassed by his differences. But when Ian goes missing, Julie begins to understand his behaviour and also realise how she really feels about him.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“Recently, I informed my son that he had Autism using this simple book”

“We read it, and I was totally moved and wiping back a tear when my son looked thoughtful and said something like 'Mummy, can I have ice cream tomorrow?' He got it- it just wasn't a big deal to him!”

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Hadden

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for Fiction, Mark Haddon’s novel needs little introduction. Narrated by a 15-year-old boy with Asperger's, this book is regularly recommended for teens, giving a great insight into the autistic mind.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“My son tells me that the penny dropped for him when they studied The Curious Incident at school. His friends just couldn't understand Christopher, whereas for my son it was a real “wow” moment when he realised he could completely relate to him."

“This was recommended to me by my son's therapist as being an interesting perspective of someone who thinks differently to the 'norm', but in the form of a detective story, so a gentle entry to the world our children live in.”

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All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome is a great introduction to Asperger’s for younger children. With an array of beautiful feline images, the book shows how these unpredictable creatures reflect AS tendencies and traits.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“All Cats Have Asperger’s is very popular with parents explaining AS to their children with lots of cartoons. Simple text and lots of good discussion opportunities.”

“My daughter, who is five, gained quite a lot of insight from this picture book. It's a lovely book …everyone should look at it and her brother, who has Asperger’s, enjoyed it too.”

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The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

The London Eye Mystery is an award-winning children's novel by the brilliant Siobhan Dowd. Ted, a boy with Asperger syndrome, solves the mystery of how his cousin, Salim, seemingly vanishes from inside a sealed capsule on the London Eye.

Why Mumsnetters like it:

“This is a great novel where the main character has Asperger's, it's a thriller and accessible for the average 10-year-old.”

“My son has just read it: he says it's the best book ever.”

Buy it now