Five Awesome Autism Books for Parents, Families, and Educators
Parents who are raising children on the autism spectrum often have busy, challenging lives. They are constantly looking for resources to make their parenting journey easier and happier for their family and especially for their child with autism. These past few years, many wonderful books on autism have been published.
The books I have chosen are first-person accounts about autism and are a source of strength. Parents of a child newly diagnosed with autism can find answers to their many questions. Family members and friends will understand what these families are going through. Educators will be better prepared to work with their growing numbers of students with autism.
Some authors use humor to bring their points across. Other authors tug at your heartstring to paint a picture of the the ups and downs of their daily lives. Each of these autism books will inspire, inform and influence you to be a better parent, a better teacher, and a more compassionate friend.
By Melanie and Seth Fowler
I love this gem of a book from cover to cover! You find practical, immediately doable steps to make your life with a child with autism more manageable, more fruitful, and most importantly, more hopeful! You will appreciate the conversational tone used to convey their message.
Melanie Fowler is very qualified to give you advice as a professional and a mom of a child with autism. She has degrees in speech-language pathology and special-education, has worked for years with special-needs and deaf children. She is also a certified educational diagnostician and has helped children with autism spectrum disorders in groups and on a one-on-one basis.
I recommend this book to new parents who are questioning if their toddler is on track with his developmental milestones. Most of all Look at my Eyes in a must-read if you have a child newly diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Through their touching story you will learn the importance of early intervention and how to navigate the system. The Fowlers take you by the hand and show you the ropes.
Throughout the book are sections called Seth Says… where we get a glimpse of how the father feels, about his fears, his dashed dreams, his shaky hopes for the future, and his wise words of encouragement. It is refreshing to get a father’s view point and counsel as often these books are written by moms.
What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism: A Mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years
By Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D
Ms. Sheahan is an Assistant DA who gave up her legal career to be a full-time mom to four, with one child with autism, and a part-time writer. She is also editor at @fhautism, a SI Focus columnist, and speaker.
Bobbi tells us that the first years’ of a parent’s journey with a child with autism is lonely and confusing. She hopes her book will comfort and encourage you and that you will be spared the feeling that you’re trying to connect the dots with a blindfold. “Having a child with autism is a challenge, not a tragedy.”
Bobbi goes on to tell parents in her conversational style: “Once I gave myself the freedom to mourn the picture of the family that I thought I was going to have … it became much easier to get on with the realities of my new life.” Bobbi writes that the longer she lives with her daughter the more ways she finds to work with her child’s challenges. The authors share these ways so you too can go on with enjoying life in a new and different way.
The authors’ main point is to convince parents that they can’t handle this alone. They need a personal support system and professional guidance. Bobbi writes about the importance to have the right tools in our arsenal: experience, training, and reading. This resourceful book covers all aspects of raising a child with autism and it does so in a very entertaining way by braiding humor withl advice and comments.
By Sharie Walter
Crazy Love is a collection of essays written by a mom about life after they adopt a daughter from China who has autism and has developed self-injurious behavior. How others react to Vivi and how she wished she could answer back to them make up many of the short, impressionable, witty essays.
This book tickles your funny bone from cover to cover. Ms. Walter is a talented wordsmith that keeps you chuckling with her brilliantly written snippets of life with autism. Through the humorous banter, this forty something mom weaves strands of serious fodder for thought. After a harrowing day she writes, “Today never dies; it just turns into the day after yesterday.”
About the persistent feeling of guilt to make every minute count, “The tick of a clock is like bamboo water torture making me painfully aware that every second counts in the recovery process; no time for indulgent literary piffle…”
About how expensive it is to raise a child with special needs, “It’s a gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, sugar-free, additive-free, preservative-free, dye-free, flavor-free diet that is NOT free. As a matter of fact, it costs much more to eat a lot less.”
Laugh a lot and learn a lot from Sharie Walter’s beautifully written book. Crazy Love the perfect book for another frazzled mom who will get it and need it.
By Robert Naseef Ph.D.
Dr. Robert Naseef is a partner in an independent psychology practice, Alternate Choices, with his wife, Cindy N. Ariel, Ph.D., who is also a psychologist.Through his experiences as a parent and as a professional, Robert relates well to both audiences and is a sought after speaker around the country.
Many will benefit from Dr. Naseef’s touching account of how he felt while raising his son who has profound autism to the age of 33 when he ends his book. The author covers most parenting topics giving down-to-earth advice how to tackle the most challenging situations. Case studies and his personal stories show you others find it difficult too and the author has practical suggestions on how to cope, how to accept, and how to love your child in the moment.
Most important and one of its unique features is that the author helps the parents deal with their own feelings, shows them how to cope and that there is hope. It helps parents provide the best support for their child with autism and ensures that the whole family’s needs are met.
Dr. Naseef writes that families are resilient, and with support and effective intervention, some sense of order and predictability can be restored to their lives and the overpowering sense of helplessness and powerlessness alleviated. Autism in the Family is a resource all parents of children with serious special needs should have.
This book is especially for fathers of autistic children who seem to be left out in many books about autism. It is for siblings, family, friends, teachers, and professionals who are also important travelling companions on this difficult journey of raising a child with autism to adulthood.
By Cassie Zupke
Cassie Zupke is the mother of three teenagers, one of whom has mild autism. A former engineer in NASA’s Deep Space Network, Cassie is also the director of Open Doors Now, a non-profit education and support group for students with mild autism/similar disorders, their families and educators.
This 288 page book is an easy read. The language used and conversational tone make it very user-friendly for overwhelmed parents of children with special needs or busy educators.
Cassie writes that after listening to hundreds of parents, teachers and school administrators, she has come to the conclusion that their ability to function as a team is often hampered by their lack of understanding of each other’s motivations and limitations. Her book gives educators and parents the necessary tools to build the relationships they need to help their children.
Parents, you can surely relate to Ms. Zupke as she writes:
- “Some days I’m lost in the forest of demands, emotions, exhaustion, information, and decisions that autism brings, and my politeness slips.”
- “…”normal” wasn’t going to happen. My boy wasn’t going to be a typical kid. Not now, not ever. He would improve and build skills and mature, but his autism was always going to be there, waiting and setting traps here and there for the rest of his life.”
- “ As a parent of a child with autism, my emotions have run the gamut. I’ve felt pride, elation, contentment, confidence, fear, anger, grief, self-pity, and despair. And I’ve felt love—there is always love.”