Uniquely Ourselves: Inspiring Books on Autism for Kids, Tweens, and Teens

by Steve Silberman

Autism is a highly complex condition, and that complexity is reflected in the broad and diverse range of books that have been written about it. Thousands of books have regarded autism from a clinical perspective — as a developmental disability that is now recognized as highly common, affecting at least 1 in 68 school-aged children in America. Other books, written primarily for parents, offer advice on coping with the challenges of raising a kid on the spectrum in a world that offers insufficient support and resources for autistic people and their families. And there are several fine autobiographies out there describing the experience of autism from the inside.

Few of these books, however, are written specifically for children, tweens, and teens. It’s important for young readers to learn about autism because it will help them reject the evil of bullying and grow up to become compassionate adults who help people with all sorts of disabilities find a place in society. It’s also crucial for young readers on the spectrum to learn to recognize their own difficulties in fitting in and find ways of coping, while reveling in their distinctive strengths, fascinations, and eccentricities. Here is a selection of books that do a great job of informing young readers about autism while promoting acceptance of people on the spectrum of all ages.

For parents, clinicians, and teachers, I enthusiastically recommend a new book called Uniquely Human by Barry Prizant and Tom Fields-Meyer, which distills 40 years of experience of working with autistic children into a set of simple, practical guidelines for treating young people on the spectrum (including coping with challenging behavior) with respect and compassion. And Sarah Hendrickx’s Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a comprehensive overview of issues faced by women on the spectrum at all points in the lifecycle, from childhood through old age.