Every April, we recognize and celebrate World Autism Month. It’s important for everyone to do their part to create a more inclusive world where all people with autism can reach their full potential. Whether autism directly impacts your life or not, I encourage you learn more about those who are on the spectrum. With knowledge comes understanding, acceptance, and love. When society is compassionate, educated, and inclusive, people living with autism have a chance to thrive. With that, I hope you take some time out of your day to learn about these thoughtful and empowering books that shine light on what it truly means to live with autism – and how we can support friends and family on the spectrum.
Jive Talking’ Superman by Leslie Curtis
(Self-Help / Motivational & Inspirational)
Jive Talkin’ Superman is a moving book that takes you on a journey through a young man’s life with autism. As he navigates the many obstacles thrown at him, you’re reminded that life – no matter how unkind – always is filled with hope.
Leslie Curtis’s new book shares her son Jac’s life with autism through 20 short stories that will make you cry, laugh, and smile. This is a profound and essential read for any parent who is starting their journey raising a child with autism. But I want to emphasize that this is truly a book for everyone – whether autism impacts your family or not.
No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve been through, you’ll face a moment in life in which you wonder if you can keep going. Sometimes, moving forward is the hardest thing we can do. We’re all burdened in some way – and it can be a lot to handle. Although we all face different challenges, you’re never truly alone. There is always a glimmer of hope that allows us to dream for tomorrow. This book reminds us of that.
Throughout the stories in Jive Talkin’ Superman, you follow Jac’s life and experience the hard times, the good times, and everything in between. In the end, you see that every moment of his life is precious. Leslie Curtis writes this book with beautiful, personal prose. She uniquely titles each chapter after a song – inspired by her love for music. The stories crescendo in a magnificent manner, as hope continuously builds as Jac’s life progresses.
Surviving Autism by Judith Gompf
(Psychology / Psychopathology & Autism Spectrum Disorders)
If you are a parent or caregiver who needs support raising children with autism, Judith Gompf’s book is an excellent resource to have. Surviving Autism is informative, supportive, and filled with essential insight to help all who are affected by autism spectrum disorders.
Gompf’s book reminds us that although autism presents profound challenges for both children and parents, nobody should face those challenges alone. By reading, you will learn helpful tips regarding what to look for in children, information about doctors and specialists, how to manage daily tasks, and what resources children with autism may need.
The book also thoroughly covers everything you need to know about helpful agencies and available resources, along with details about the public school system and Individual Education Plans (IEPs). I appreciated how applicable and approachable everything is written throughout the book. On the surface, this is the story of one parent’s journey with autism spectrum disorder. But it serves as much more than that. It is an all-encompassing guide for families managing the daily stressors of autism.
Siblings of the Spectrum by Denise Sullivan Near
(Family & Relationships / Children with Special Needs)
We are collectively doing a better job discussing autism and spreading awareness. However, there is always more work for us to do. Author Denise Sullivan Near understands that as well as anyone. Her book, Siblings of the Spectrum, reminds us that siblings play a powerful role in supporting those with autism.
Through first-hand experience watching her own three children, Denise highlights the extraordinary role that siblings play. The book touches on what autism looks like to a younger brother who doesn’t quite understand. She also delves into the feelings that an older sister struggles with – even though she is aware of autism’s impact.
The book is filled with vibrant and captivating illustrations that complement its easy-to-read storytelling. It is a wonderful companion for early readers that will help them understand the complexities of autism and what it takes to be a supportive sibling. Autism is sometimes difficult for even adults and professionals to comprehend – imagine how it must be for children. With this book, young kids will be able to grasp what their siblings with autism are dealing with and learn how they can support and love them.
One in Ten Thousand by Linda Ruth
(Autobiography / Medical, Autism)
Some stories are so powerful that they need to be told again and again. One in Ten Thousand is one of those stories. The book shares the life, trials, and challenges of Lee Ruth, an autistic individual, through the eyes of his mother – his advocate, champion, and caregiver.
Lee was diagnosed with autism in 1976 – a time in which we were only scraping the surface in understanding the complexities of spectrum disorders. When he received his diagnosis, the rate of autism was one in ten thousand children. Today, that number is fifty-four. Throughout the book, Linda Ruth details the adversity he endured and his callous diagnosis. Lee’s story is compelling, inspiring, and intensely relatable for all who have a loved one with disabilities.
The odds were frequently stacked against Lee. He lived his most formative years in an era that was severely lacking in both autism awareness and research. Nevertheless, he always endured and moved forward with the support of his incredible family. One in Ten Thousand is a must-read book during World Autism Month, and every other month. It chronicles an incredible story about an American family’s four-decade-long journey doing everything in their power to support their child despite profound challenges. In the end, we’re reminded that there is always hope.
Nothing About This is Easy and Here is Why by Mari Stein
(Autobiography / Personal Memoir)
Nothing About This is Easy and Here is Why packs a punch in its 116 pages. Author Mari Stein will admit that it took her a lifetime to write the book, and it is filled with little stories from her “autistic brain”.
When Mari was growing up, there was no diagnosis for her. I can only imagine the intense feelings of isolation that she must have endured. I truly admire her courage to deal with such tremendous challenges with both humor and tenacity. Her memoir is a testament to a misunderstood life and offers both hope and support to all living with autism spectrum disorder.
Mari Stein’s book stands out for many reasons – primarily because it is deeply personal but simultaneously intensely relatable. For many, living with autism can be a lonely and intense struggle. This book serves as a reminder that if you have autism, you are not alone, and there are millions of people out there who are fighting a similar battle.
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