Monday, January 22, 2018

Books about Autism Written by Authors on the Spectrum.

I've read a decent amount of books on autism. 

I figured out pretty quickly that they aren't all cut from the same quality cloth. 

Once I bought a book for my daughter about Asperger's Syndrome that did what they normally tell us to do, using things like social stories, and it took ten minutes before my daughter put it away and said it was insulting. Nobody needed to speak to her like that. And she was right. My daughter has autism, it's what would have been called Aspergers, though that title has since been moved aside in favor of addressing autism as a spectrum (which it is, though I wish they'd left the label there, too). 

It wasn't the only book we came across that spoke to or about ASD people in a way I couldn't really deal with. From then on, I was careful. I read things before she looked at them, I checked the websites of authors to see what direction they were coming from. 

My daughter is incredibly high-functioning. She reads at a college level in elementary school and requires no help in school with academics, and little in the way of social skills. 

To me, she's always reminded me of a princess from a faraway land. She's interested in everything here and may need to be shown some things that she doesn't understand, but she's magical. 

That's the thing about autism being a spectrum...

I wouldn't dare talk over anyone who feels like ASD is hurting their child, just like I wouldn't dare talk over anyone who feels like this is just an integral part of their child. All of us, all of our experiences with this, are really just that different. Everyone matters here, and so does their voice as we seek ways to make this world the best we can for our individual children. 

This has been the only book I've encountered that addresses the nature of that and goes over things that can help different situations for people on the spectrum. 

I think it let me see into my daughter's world a little bit more, and it was wonderful reading advice from someone who was on the spectrum because it is always humane and honest. 

If I had to recommend a book for autism parents, this would be it just for the insight into how our kids are taking in information and how to support them in that. "Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism" by the legendary Temple Grandin was amazing. I will be checking out other books by her. 

I also enjoyed Jeannie Davide-Rivera's "Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed: Growing up With Undiagnosed with Autism". This isn't something I'll let my oldest read (not yet, anyway, maybe when she's grown) as it is a personal account of the struggle of finding your place in the world when you are on the spectrum and aren't aware of it as a youngster. 

Some of it was painful, especially if you love someone who has ASD or have it yourself because you'll be able to identify with these sometimes uphill battles and heartaches. That makes it definitely necessary reading though. Honest accounts like this belong on the reading list for all that it teaches us. It's also written very well and is entertaining in its own right, even if it wasn't teaching us something. 

Ultimately, I think it boils down to the fact that some of the best books on autism are written by the people with autism. 

I'm so excited to see things like Sesame Street being inclusive, I'm so happy to see teacher training days focusing on just ASD, I'm so happy to see these everyday conversations just exist. Because when my daughter was a baby or being teased as a preschooler, none of this was around. 

My hope is that we keep going in this direction. 

My hope is that children like my daughter are not outsiders in our society- because anyone who doesn't include them has no idea what they are missing. 

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