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Posted on August 6, 2015 at 6:00 am
A few weeks after running a blog post on the We Need Diverse Books movement, I heard from Kathleen, a young reader in North Carolina who wrote that she has Asperger syndrome. “I’m trying to put together shareable resources to help empower others with autism to be confident, social, and able to overcome their obstacles,” she wrote, adding that perhaps we could share her list on our blog. Looking at Kathleen’s list, I thought of several print titles I’ve seen in recent years—practical, inspiring, well-informed books written with kids and teens on the autism spectrum in mind. With some family members and friends affected by autism spectrum disorders, I was already familiar with Asperger’s tendency to manifest (often endearingly) as an intense fascination in specific subjects, oversensitivity to sounds and textures, and a tendency to not entirely understand social cues.
But as I revisited some of our collection’s titles on Asperger syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, I was struck by how empathetic, pragmatic, and even lighthearted the popular literature has become. As Kathleen and I emailed back and forth, she graciously gave me permission to add some of my favorite autism and Asperger’s books to her resource list and publish it here. Thanks, Kathleen!
by Blythe Grossberg
Asperger’s Rules! breaks down all the various aspects of school, starting with the “Aspie” student herself. Knowing how to read one’s own feelings and sense when frustration is starting to build is the first step to all the other skills, including getting help from one’s teachers, understanding the unwritten rules of the classroom, navigating lunches and recesses, making and keeping friends, defusing bullies, and staying on top of one’s personal health. I love how Grossberg includes tons of helpful self-tests and even flow charts for practicing conversation and other social skills. This is a great tool for grade school and even early middle school students.
By Jennifer Cook O’Toole
Although the Asperkid’s series is written for parents, there are enough creative, fun solutions and helpful photographs to make these books super engaging to kids and teens.
The Asperkid’s Launch Pad: Home Design to Empower Everyday Superheroes shows how to make the home space more Aspie-friendly, from great organizational tips to considerations of texture, furniture, and fixtures. What I like best about this book is the tone, which is positive, friendly, and especially pragmatic for busy parents and curious kids alike.
The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules is similar to Asperger’s Rules! but is more in depth and designed for tweens and teens. It’s the secret playbook for how teen social situations work, including how to take a joke gracefully and how to be honest without offending, as well as hundreds of similar tricky situations. Throughout the book, the author’s tone is accepting and even celebratory of all the great qualities that make Aspies so unique.
The Asperkid’s Game Plan dives into the Aspie learning style and offers ways to use structured play and other “game” opportunities to enhance learning and build understanding. O’Toole’s most recent book, Sisterhood of the Spectrum, is specifically for teen girls and young women.
By Cynthia Kim
Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate is the author’s own account of growing up with Asperger syndrome but not knowing it until many years later. Part memoir, part how-to book, it encompasses everything Kim has learned about her diagnosis and explains many of her early life experiences. There is a lot to relate to here, even without an Asperger’s diagnosis, but for those on the spectrum Kim’s book is essential reading.
By Nancy Carlson
For younger kids, Armond Goes to a Party perfectly encapsulates what it is that’s so unnerving about social situations for kids with Asperger’s. Parties are places where things might smell, kids are noisy, stuff is chaotic, and balloons might pop. Worst of all, parties are places where you’re expected to talk to people and sometimes it’s really hard to figure out what to say. Luckily, Armond has a smart mom and he discovers how to feel good about parties and be a good friend, even if it’s not always easy. I’ve liked Carlson’s picture book work for years—her playfully exuberant approach to common childhood problems and expressive, almost childlike art are immediately calming and encouraging—and Armond Goes to a Party does not disappoint.
General introduction to autism from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthfinder website.
Autism Educational Materials
Where to find instructional materials for kids with autism spectrum disorders, including chore charts, tablet apps, flash cards, and more.
Autism NOW Transition Planning
Help with plans for making the transition from high school to adult life.
Autism Society of Washington (Spokane Chapter)
Spokane County Library District receives a generous donation each year from the local chapter of the Autism Society of Washington, which we use to supplement our collection of titles on autism spectrum disorders and Asperger’s syndrome.
Autism Speaks Resource Guide
Search for local and regional resources with this helpful interactive map.
Aquatic Therapy for Children with Autism
Discusses the challenges and benefits of physical activity (including swimming) for kids with autism or Asperger’s, along with a checklist of things to look for in swimming classes and other aquatic therapies.
Career Assistance for People with Autism
Fantastic information on employment opportunities, resume help, legal rights, and interviewing advice.
Guide to Flying with an Autistic Child
Information on how to navigate the airport, takeoff, meals, cabin comfort, and other issues of concern when flying with a child with autism spectrum disorders.
Do you have a favorite book or resource on Asperger’s or autism spectrum disorders? Let us know in the comments!