With Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affecting approximately one in every eighty-eight kids (as of 2012) chances are you, your family, your students, and/or friends are confronted with this broad spectrum of challenging circumstances. Autism—Including Asperger’s Syndrome—is life altering for the individuals and those around them. The following books are great resources to discover the truth of how lives touched by ASD handle difficult situations.
Middle Grade Fiction
Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
This book was almost too close to home for me—I wanted to cheer and cry for main character, Jason, the whole way through. Jason is fully developed and pulls at the reader’s heartstrings. I was hoping for an “and everyone lived happily ever after” ending, but the bittersweet realistic wrap Ms. Baskin gave Jason’s story is fabulous.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
A Newbery Honor winner, this book gives the reader a double dose of insight into the workings of Alcatraz during the prison’s prime as well as the bond between siblings—even (maybe especially) when one is on the spectrum. POV character Moose has an unique story in the fact that the ASD sibling is older and a girl (autism occurs more often in boys 5:1.)
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
Perfect for fans of BBC’s “Sherlock” TV series, main character, Ted (who has Asperger’s Syndrome), tries to solve how his teen cousin disappears mid-ride on the famous London Ferris wheel. Ted is articulate and quirky, and displays some of the classic behaviors of ASD.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
This quiet novel showcases the working of Caitlin’s mind after a family tragedy. The narrative is so tight, you feel like your right in the room with her. Deep and touching, this is enlightened reading at its best.
Rules by Cynthia Lord
This Newbery Honor book is probably the most widely recognized in the category. Readers will sympathize and cheer during Catherine’s journey to understand and accept her little brother, David, who is autistic. Sibling issues and family dynamics are at the core, so every reader can relate.
Clay by Colby Rodowsky
Eleven year old “Elsie” deals with the resurfacing memories of herself and her younger brother being kidnapped by their own mother. This chilling emotional read offers insight into the stress siblings—and parents—are faced with when dealing with a mostly non-verbal child.
Middle Grade Non-Fiction
Freaks, Geeks & Asperger’s Syndrome: A User’s Guide to Adolescence by Luke Jackson
Written by a thirteen-year-old on the spectrum, this is a fun read for adults as well as upper middle grade readers. Honest and humorous, Luke is a fabulous narrator. You’ll feel like you know him—and his family—by the time you finish the book.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
This one is for older teens through adults, but worth the read for those not bothered by profanity. Haddon’s experience with autistic students is obvious. The reader gets in the head of first person POV Christopher before the writing begins—the first chapter is “2” and the chapters continue in increments of prime numbers. It’s a great mystery/psychological read.
Episodes: Scenes from Life, Love, and Autism by Blaze Ginsberg
Reader-friendly, teenager Ginsberg formatted his autobiography like an IMBD entry, complete with cast of characters for each section. His style is lighthearted and engaging. I felt like I could walk up to him and start talking about Sesame Street or something when I finished.
Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin
This is the modern classic of all autobiographies. Though technically an “adult” book, it is easily accessible to teen readers. Amazing insight and it could be a great help to those preparing to leave the nest for the first time—whether on the spectrum or not.
I’m sure 2013 will produce a new crop of ASD books, and I look forward to reading them. Do you love any books about people on the spectrum you would like to include on a “best of” list? My TBR pile is huge, but there is always room for more.
Carrie Cox is a writer and homeschooling mother of three in Mobile, Alabama, and her eldest son is autistic. Previously, the California native dabbled in substitute teaching and ran the children’s department at the local bookstore. You may follow her literary journey at www.authorcarriecox.com and on Twitter @wonderwegian.