My son was diagnosed with Autism about three years ago. It wasn’t a surprise by the time we finally got the diagnosis, but it did change our life in a number of ways. School changes, numerous IEP meetings, therapy, medication just became a given in our life.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. Talking to the therapists, reading all I could find on the internet, wasn’t enough after a while. So I looked to the library.
I prefer audio books, and I’m somewhat particular about the books I’ll read. If the book gets a bad rap among the Autism Self-Advocacy community, it’s unlikely I’ll read it. I have little interest in reading novels that don’t properly respect the Autistic individual. And considering I’m on the spectrum myself, I’m pretty sensitive to perceptions and judgments of Autists that aren’t very sympathetic to their experience.
The books I’ll be reviewing first are the more informative reads:
Neurotribes, Uniquely Human, Thinking in Pictures, and Autism Breakthrough.
I will also be reviewing the more narrative reads at a later date:
The Horse Boy, A Friend Like Henry, Be Different, Raising Cubby, The Spark, I Am In Here, and The Journal of Best Practices.
- Books I declined to read
There are a few other books that are available on audio book through the King County Library and Seattle Public Library systems, but I’m resisting reading them.
In A Different Key has received some questionable reviews by Autism advocates. I’ve also avoided the Jenny McCarthy books, because I just can’t bring myself to support one of the major causes of the Anti-Vaccine movement.
One other book I’ve seen pop up in my search is titled Not My Boy, and the title alone makes me wince. It rings of the idea that Autism steals children and Autism need to be cured and eliminated rather than accepted. I haven’t read much else about it, so I might still give it a chance.
- Informative Reads
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman was a truly enlightening and informative read covering the history of Autism with a number of well researched case studies about a number of historical figures dating back to the story of Henry Cavendish, 1731 – 1810.
After learning about Autism over the years, I became rather convinced that Autism was not some recent epidemic. It’s simply being more widely recognized. So it was fascinating to see this idea confirmed time and time again in Steve Silberman’s masterpiece of research, understanding and compassion.
He covered the history of Aspergers and why the diagnosis was so delayed despite the disorder having been discovered and researched in Germany in the 1930s. He also covered the influence of Autism in the advent of Science Fiction and fandom, which was quite enjoyable considering I’m part of that scene as well.
Neurotribes is most definitely a must read for anyone who wants to truly understand Autism.
Uniquely Human, A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant was another highly informative read. This book wasn’t quite as engaging to me as Neurotribes, mostly because it covered a lot of ideas of working with children the the Autism spectrum that were either obvious to me, or I had read elsewhere.
But for parents just staring out on the Autism journey, this book has a great approach. A highly informative must read for anyone with a child on the Autism spectrum.
These last two books are a little older, and so, a little more dated. Though they have the unique quality of being written by adults who were diagnosed with Autism as children.
Thinking in Pictures by Dr. Temple Grandin is a wonderful read, mostly because as Autism Self-Advocates go, Temple Grandin is a legend. Much of this book cover’s Temple’s very unique perspective on life. She’s updated it recently for the audio book I listened too, thankfully because some of the information in it is quite dated.
She clarifies, for example the fact that not all autistic people think in pictures, an assumption she seemed to make due to the limited resources out there when she wrote the first book. Like many books covering the Autistic experience, there were moments that I found myself tearing up because I found myself relating all too well to her unique experiences.
Her writing, like John Elder Robison, really hits a chord in me. The perspective and insight into the unique way that the Autistic mind works in Temple’s and John’s works have been invaluable to me.
Autism Breakthrough by Raun Kaufman is the final book I’ll be covering in this post. I must admit, I didn’t finish reading it. Raun Kaufman claims to have fully recovered from Autism thanks to The Son-Rise program created by his parents. While I must admit, there is a great deal of The Son-Rise program that I really like and really agree with, I’m not really on board with the idea of a ‘full recovery from Autism’. I don’t think it’s something that can be, or should be ‘cured’.
I do, though, like the ideas of entering into the Autistic child’s world in order to connect with them. Especially considering the unfortunate alternative methods of therapy out there. It’s worth a read for a number of reasons, though I suggest doing so with a healthy amount of skepticism and careful consideration.