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Pure Friendship for Individuals with Special Needs

12 amazing special needs stories you need to read!

Looking for some great special needs videos or books? Have you tried going to your local library or gone online and been overwhelmed with the thousands of books written on the subject?  We try and make your life a bit easier with the Special Needs Book & Video Series. The Special Needs Book & Video Series will be comprised of  5 posts:
  1. 12 amazing special needs stories you need to read!
  2. Does Hollywood get it right? 11 Special needs movies to watch
  3. 12 special needs novels that will touch your heart
  4. The top 15 Special Needs Documentaries
  5. Explaining special needs to your child 15 great children's books
Enjoy and if you have any items you think should be included please include them in the comment section!

12 amazing special needs stories you need to read!

Laughing Allegra

The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter With Learning Disabilities by Anne Ford A portrait of the author's daughter and her constant battle with serious learning disabilities opens an often hidden world and illuminates the many ways learning disabilities shape the lives of entire families. While having the Ford family name has provided Allegra with some advantages (the author is Henry Ford's great-granddaughter), living with a learning disability can be extremely difficult for anyone so diagnosed, and often a proper diagnosis is itself very difficult to come by. She incorporates invaluable information for parents just beginning this lifelong struggle.  But above all, this is a personal journey, depicting Allegra's triumphs (she is now 30) and the author's strength throughout years of pain and difficulty.

Look Me in the Eye

My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison A memorable account of living with Asperger's syndrome is assured of media attention due in part to his brother Augusten Burroughs's brief but fascinating description of Robison in Running with Scissors. But Robison's story is much more fully detailed in this moving memoir, beginning with his painful childhood. Failing in junior high, Robison was encouraged by some audiovisual teachers to fix their broken equipment, and he discovered a more comfortable world of machines and circuits, of muted colors, soft light, and mechanical perfection. Finally, at age 40, while Robison was running a successful business repairing high-end cars, a therapist correctly diagnosed him as having Asperger's.

Born On A Blue Day

Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet A window into the mind of a high-functioning, 27-year-old British autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome. Tammet's ability to think abstractly, deviate from routine, and empathize, interact and communicate with others is impaired, yet he's capable of incredible feats of memorization and mental calculation. As one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism, Tammet's condition is intriguing to researchers; his ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue others as well.

Riding the Bus with My Sister

A True Life Journey by Rachel Simon This chronicle shows how much Simon, a creative writing professor at Bryn Mawr College, had to learn from her mentally retarded sister, Beth, about life, love and happiness. Beth lives independently and is in a long-term romantic relationship, but perhaps the most surprising thing about her, certainly to her  family, is how she spends her days riding buses. Rachel joined Beth on her rides for a year in an attempt to gain some insight into Beth's daily life. Beth's community within the transit system is a much stronger network than the one Rachel has in her hectic world, and some of the portraits of drivers and the other people in Beth's life are unforgettable.


A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives by Cathleen Lewis How can an 11-year old boy hear a Mozart fantasy for the first time and play it back note-for-note perfectly-but struggle to navigate the familiar surroundings of his own home? Cathleen Lewis says her son Rex's laugh of total abandon is the single most joyous sound anyone could hear, but his tortured aversion to touch and sound breaks her heart and makes her wonder what God could have had in mind. In this book she shares the mystery of Rex and the highs, lows, hopes, dreams, joy, sorrows, and faith she has journeyed through with him.

Now I See the Moon

A Mother, a Son, a Miracle by Elaine Hall A children's film coach recounts her adoption of a troubled Russian toddler and her journey to treat his nonverbal autism.  Neal, as she named him, couldn't speak or make eye contact, and despite Hall's belief in his innate intelligence, the boy was eventually diagnosed with "severe sensory dysfunction." She beautifully chronicles Neal's development to the age of his bar mitzvah vis-a-vis his responses--positive and negative--to the slew of experts and coaches Hall found to create therapies tailored to his very individual needs. She created her life's work in the Miracle Project, a theater arts program for autistic kids (eventually made into the Emmy Award–winning documentary Autism: The Musical).

Thinking in Pictures

My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism--because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us. Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. Writing from the dual perspectivies of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells us how that country is experienced by its inhabitants and how she managed to breach its boundaries to function in the outside world.

Someone Like Me

An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy by John W. Quinn Despite having been born with cerebral palsy, John wanted to be in the U.S. Navy, but the Navy didn't want him. Even though every step he took was measured in pain, the Navy requirement for a "duck walk" initially disqualified him. He never made mention of his CP. Instead he put himself into a regimen of self-applied physical therapy for a year until he could fulfill the requirement. It meant learning to deal with a new level of pain and it led to a twenty-year career in the Navy! He retired as a senior chief petty officer and earned numerous citations and awards.

A Regular Guy

Growing up with Autism by Laura Shumaker Growing Up With Autism is a memoir about life with an autistic son, Matthew, written from his mother's perspective. It answers the many questions that people have about autism through the story of Matthew's life spanning from babyhood to young adulthood. A Regular Guy illustrates the many ways in which family, friends and strangers are touched by Matthew s desperate desire to be a regular guy, and how his brutal honesty and social awkwardness bring out the best and worst in people in touching and humorous ways. In turn, A Regular Guy leads readers to love and accept Matthew, quirks and all, and inspires them to understand and tolerate the differences in others.

Double Take

A Memoir by Kevin Michael Connolly Photographer, champion skier and skateboarder Connolly has been stared at his entire 23-year life. Not because he's handsome, talented and athletic (all true), but because he has no legs. He was born without them, but born into a family that he describes as loving, loyal and matter-of-fact. Connolly is a good storyteller, whether describing his first high school wrestling match, the path from novice to champion skier or what it's like to travel around the world on a skateboard. Connolly shares his memories of  a defining moment: when he decided to use photography to gaze back at the people who stared at him. His photos, 19 of which serve as chapter dividers, became part of The Rolling Exhibition, which was shown worldwide, including at the Smithsonian.

The Best Kind of Different

Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome by Shonda Schilling Shonda details every step of her family's journey with Asperger's, offering a parent's perspective on this complicated and increasingly common condition. Looking back on Grant's early years, she describes the signals she missed in his behavior and confronts the guilt that engulfed her after she came to understand just how misguided her parenting had been before the diagnosis. In addition, she talks about the harsh judgment she's faced from people who don't buy into the diagnosis and how she's used passion and information to fight the ignorance of others. Shonda demonstrates how Asperger's forced her and her husband to reconsider everything they thought they knew about their son and each other, but in the end, it has made their marriage and their family stronger and happier.

All I Can Handle

I'm No Mother Teresa: A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism by Kim Stagliano Stagliano reveals what it’s like to be the mom of three daughters with autism. She jokes about the advantages of having teen girls with the disorder, her daughters’ initial diagnosis of global developmental delay, and crapisodes (autistic kids smearing feces everywhere). Many parents of kids diagnosed with the disorder will snap up this book, which is full of surprising, and controversial observations. Stagliano makes her husband out to be a good-looking saint. Yet in 19 years, he goes through seven jobs. Also, despite the recent discreditation of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 paper in The Lancet that led many parents to believe vaccines caused autism, Stagliano stands by him, and against much of mainstream medicine.

WRITTEN ON December 29, 2013 BY:


Mingy Dworcan has a knack for finding the best stuff online. She has
volunteered and worked at Friendship Circle of Michigan and at several
other Friendship Circles around the country.