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Autistic Books You Need to Check Out

Autism is a spectrum that consists of many different people and experiences. Each year, the world becomes a little more progressive. Ideas that were once considered “the norm” become harmful and outdated as more knowledge is acquired. This is because as a society, we are always growing. We are always learning more about those around us, gaining a deeper understanding and empathy for one another.  

There’s a saying in the autistic community that, “If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person” (Stim by Lizzie Huxley Jones). This is meant to show how unique and special each person in the community is. There are many experiences out there, not a singular, universal one. In recent years, people who were never properly diagnosed are discovering and embracing their own neurodiversity. Additionally, those with limited knowledge on the autism spectrum want to understand more to be an ally to the community. To do so, we must educate ourselves. What better way to do that than through books?  


This list will be divided into categories so readers can select what genre interests them most. It will also be continuously updated, so if you see this blog pop up more than once, check to see if there are any new recommendations that interest you!  


This list will also feature an autism-voices-only section for those seeking direct accounts from those within the autism community. It is essential to listen to these stories directly from the community. These recommendations were mostly curated from autistic creators—creators which will be linked at the end for you to check out for yourself! Without further preamble, let’s get into the list. 


 

Nonfiction – Self-Help/History/Topic 


Untypical: How the World Isn’t Built for Autistic People and What We Should All Do About it by Pete Wharmby 



Untypical provides steps that we should all be taking for the autistic people in our lives. The world is curated to neurotypical people, and this book challenges that “norm” and how we can be more inclusive of the autism community and search for solutions. Written by Pete Wharmy, who received a late-diagnosis after lifetime of “masking” explains how our two worlds can meet, and what we can do for the one-in-thirty autistic people in our schools, workplaces and lives. You can read more about the book here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61111570-untypical?ref=rae_2 



Autistic-Told Stories * 

*= Each book in this section is written by an autistic person, but there are autistic-authored stories in the other sections that also work in those categories. The books in this section tend to fall under the category of “memoir.” 

 

Drama Queen: One Autistic Woman and a Life of Unhelpful Labels by Sarah Gibbs 

 





Drama Queen is the memoir written by comedy script writer Sara Gibbs who had been labelled many things in her life, but she’d been called a Drama Queen the most. No one understood her behavior, her meltdowns or her intense emotions.  At the age of 30, she discovered the label of drama queen, but she had always been autistic. Drama Queen explores Gibbs’ story while also ripping off the many labels that had been thrown at her all her life. 


There’s a beautiful quote that is used in the synopsis on Goodreads to describe this book, and I think it gives readers a good taste of what this book will be like... 

“It has taken me several years of exploration, but I am at a place now where I see autism as neither an affliction nor a superpower. It's just the blueprint for who I am. There is no cure, but that's absolutely fine by me. To cure me of my autism would be to cure me of myself.” 



 

Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism’s Silent Prison by Ido Kedar 

 




Ido in Autismland is a very compelling memoir from the perspective of Ido Kedar, a nonverbal autistic sixteen-year-old. Through short, autobiographical essays, Kedar challenges what he believes are misconceptions in many theories that dominate autism treatment today while he simultaneously chronicles his personal growth in his struggles to overcome his limitations. Ido spent the first half of his life locked internally, in silence, trapped in a remedial educational system that presumed he lacked the most basic comprehension, and unable to show the world that he understood everything.  He wants people to see that thousands of other severely autistic individuals have the same capacity, but remain trapped and locked-in, as he was, unable to show their true capacities. These individuals desperately need new theories and new methods to help them break free too, and Kedar calls for a change in how society views autism.  Learn more: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17081557-ido-in-autismland?ref=nav_sb_ss_1_14 



Different, Not Less: A Neurodivergent's Guide to Embracing Your True Self and Finding Your Happily Ever After by Chloé Hayden 



 

If you’re looking for an honest, empowering account of neurodiversity then Different Not Less is worth the read. This memoir from actor, social media star and advocate Chloé Hayden captures, “how it feels to be neurodivergent as well as a practical guide, with insights on how autism and ADHD present differently in females, advice for living with meltdowns and shutdowns, tips for finding supportive relationships, communities and workplaces and much more.” (from the book summary). Reviewers have mentioned that this one may be more relatable for Gen-Z readers as it tends to skew young in its subject matter given that Hayden is in her early 20s. There is likely still something for everyone in this memoir. 

 

 

For Families 


Forever Boy by Kate Swenson 



 

Kate Swenson is a popular blogger and Instagrammer, but most important of all her labels, she is a mom. Her blog Finding Cooper’s Voice gave comfort to thousands of families with autistic children, and her memoir is all about motherhood and unconditional love. When Kate Swenson's son Cooper was diagnosed with severe, nonverbal autism, her world stopped. She had always dreamed of having the perfect family life. She hadn't signed up for life as a mother raising a child with a disability. She felt the frustration and exhaustion of having to fight for your child in a world that is stacked against them. But through hard work, resilience and personal growth, she would come to learn that Cooper wasn't the one who needed to change. She did. Discovering this led to acceptance and joy. Parents will find solace and hope in this honest account by Swenson.


As Goodreads reviewer Rachel says in her review, “You don’t have to be on the same journey as a parent to appreciate this story and the exceptional woman and child behind it. “  


 


Fiction – Books with an Autistic Character 

 

An Unkindness of Ghosts by River Solomon 



 

This science fiction fantasy story follows Aster, an autistic character who is often called an ogre and freak due to obsessive and withdrawn behavior. Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother's footsteps. This book has a main character that is not only autistic, but also queer and black. Given the subject matter, it isn’t an easy one to read if you’re not prepared for the darker themes, but it is a compelling read. You can read more about it here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34381254-an-unkindness-of-ghosts?ref=nav_sb_ss_1_20 

 


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 



 

Convenience Store Woman was this author’s English-language debut and had great success. The book follows thirty-six-year-old autistic Tokyo resident and outcast Keiko Furukura who works at “Smile Mart” where she has a handle on social interaction. She does her best to copy the dress, mannerisms, and speech of her colleagues, playing the part of a “normal” person excellently, more or less. Keiko is very happy, but society continues to pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action. While it is a short novel, it is bound to leave a big impression. Check it out. 

 

 

 

This recommendation list has been pulled together through research into what the community is connecting with and sharing. There’s likely to be at least one book in this list that will be what you’re looking for! Yet, we’re not infallible beings. What great books related to autism did we miss? We’d love to hear any recommendations in the comments! You can also email us with any recommendations you’d like us to consider adding to this post at, allwithoutwords@gmail.com. Thanks for checking out this post, and happy reading!! 



Special thanks to these creators who helped me put together this list... 

 



 

Thanks for reading!



Written by Kristen Petronio

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