On my Shelf: Audrey’s Autism Edition

This post was written by Audrey Simmons. The focus of the blog this month is Autism.

Do you like to read? I love to read. I will read anything– I’m one of those people that stand in the shower and read the back of the shampoo bottle just to read something (if I have contacts in). I read the back of cereal boxes. I’m the kind of reader that they print stuff on the back of cereal boxes for. I will also read stuff online, for hours, but sometimes if you’re looking for information it can be really overwhelming to know where to look. Books can help with that because they limit the options to just what’s on the page, but then how do you even pick a book?

Here’s a list of some things I’ve read recently or read many times that you might find useful or enjoyable!

1. 

George & Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism by Charlotte Moore

This book is a lovely, heartwarming account of the joys and struggles of life with autism. The author, a British journalist, has a wonderful writing style and the book is rich with anecdotes of life with the boys. She knows her subject well and also knows how to stay on-topic– anecdotes are always supportive of the overall theme and never distracting. This is not a book of tangents, but a focused and polished memoir of raising autistic sons. This was a recent find for me but I’m sure I’ll revisit it in the future.

2.

What You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Child with Autism by Jonathan Levy

Where George & Sam is memoir and observation, mostly reluctant to direct or advise, this book is decidedly informational and instructive. The book is broken down into ten chapters of concentrated advice, separated by issue or skill focus. It is full of real-life examples to support the practices and is worth culling for some things to try at home. He also takes time to explain why each skill is important, so you understand that happy functionality and attachment, not “normalcy,” are the intention.

3.

The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood

This is what is says– a complete guide. It is packed with details and reads more like a reference manual, suited for browsing or looking up information. It is well-written and also easily lends itself to straight-through reading if you’re really hungry for a thorough overview. This book, more than others, is one that I felt “explained” difference aspects of high-functioning autism. For my family, every few pages felt like an “aha!” moment. It also discusses strategies to address different concerns and has been hugely helpful in processing what it means to be or to know someone who is autistic.

4.

With the Light by Keiko Tobe

This is the first volume of an eight-volume series. The entire series is wonderful. This is the only fiction work on this short list, but is a composite of several real families’ experiences. This is a translated Japanese manga, so it is a comic and the illustrations move right to left instead of left to right, but please don’t let that deter you. The book opens with a “how to read this” for those who have never read manga before and it is surprisingly easy to get the hang of. The book is loaded with frustrations and joys that many parents will find familiar, as it tells the story from birth to middle school and moves through confusion, diagnosis, stress on marriage, judgment from extended family or neighbors, finding allies in school and therapy, and more. It also has many useful tips for managing daily life, some of which we’ve already incorporated in our own home.

I hope you find these books useful or encouraging to read! Try looking for them at a library before buying them– I anticipate that With the Light will probably be the hardest thing to find, but it might be in some systems anyway!

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