April is dedicated to Autism Acceptance Month to promote understanding, education and inclusivity toward the community it celebrates. It’s equally important to help make space for joy and celebration for the children with autism that CASA serves. These kids deserve to see themselves reflected in books and know that they can thrive and have happy, connected lives!
Read on for a few recommendations for books that celebrate and center lives with autism, as well as some guides for adults looking to up their allyship.
Welcome to the Autistic Community
Autistic Self Advocacy Network (Contributor)
“Autism makes us different from non-autistic people, and that’s ok! Autism is a normal part of life, and makes us who we are.”
An extensive guide on what autism is, along with what it really means to be autistic, this book talks about how the condition affects lives and dives into its history and community. This book, though mostly for autistic people, can also be helpful for allies and parents with autistic kids as it has many resources to follow up on.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
By Julia Finley Mosca, Daniel Rieley (Illustrator)
“If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know…”
The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is a biographical children’s book on Dr. Temple Grandin, who has autism, though its focus is on her success as a scientist whose differences made her understand the world differently. Just like Temple herself said, “I am different, not less,” and the story is a good example of why children should pursue their special interests. It’s a good story for children, but also parents since it goes over Temple becoming more aware of her needs and how to live with autism.
The State of Grace
By Rachael Lucas
“And I reach out, because for a moment it feels as if maybe everyone else doesn’t know the rules all that well, either, and I watch as my fingers lace between his, and I lean forward this time, and I kiss Gabe Kowalski. And this time I don’t think about anything.”
Also from an autistic author, this teen fiction book follows Grace as she comes of age and tries to learn where she fits in. She is on the Autism spectrum, and the story features scenes of her figuring out her romantic life as well as how she sees the world.
Sensory: Life on the Spectrum
By Bex Ollerton
“Getting the day to day accounts of people with Autism gave me a little more insight into my son’s current behaviors and what he might do when he gets older. See, Mom, comics are more than superheroes punching each other!” – Dan Schwent on Goodreads
Featuring art from thirty autistic creators, this comic anthology depicts lived experiences and valuable insight on those with autism. Many comics feature themes of self-love and acceptance, which are powerful messages to hear during Autism Acceptance Month and beyond.
A Friend Like Simon
By Kate Gaynor, Sarah Rennick (Editor), Catriona Sweeney (Illustrator)
“The other boys and girls in school soon learned that even though sometimes Simon acted a little different from us or didn’t have a lot to say, he was just the same as everyone else in our school.”
A Friend Like Simon narrates the story of Simon, a child showing traits of autism, entering a new school, told from the perspective of a classmate. This is a story of accepting those traits which make people so unique.
The Real Experts: Readings for Parents of Autistic Children
Michelle Sutton (Editor), Nick Walker (Contributor), Morénike Giwa Onaiwu (Contributor)
“More than anything, autistic people and their families need to see and hear autistic role models who can help them understand, support, and celebrate their unique autistic loved ones. The Real Experts is a wonderful contribution to the autism community, and to us all.” – Karla McLaren, M.Ed., The Art of Empathy and The Language of Emotions
To create a resource for families with autistic children, neurodiversity rights advocate Michelle Sutton gathered writing from a dozen autistic authors. With these voices, parents can gain knowledge on advocating for their child, as well as how to best support them and their needs.
My Brother Otto
By Meg Raby, Elisa Pallmer (Illustrator)
“Sometimes Otto may act differently from other kids, but he really is just a little crow who likes to play, learn, have friends, and be loved…just like me!”
My Brother Otto is an engaging picture book for young children ages 3-7 years old. The story follows brother and sister crows Otto and Piper exploring their differences and what makes Otto unique. The book leads with kindness, love and acceptance. There is also a follow up story My Brother Otto and the Birthday Party.
The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family
By Sarah Kapit
“[Kapit] emphasizes a diversity of experiences—of autism, Jewish traditions (Ashkenazi and Sephardic), and family and school life—showing that there’s no single iteration of any identity while highlighting a close-knit family that prioritizes making amends and learning to recover.”—Publishers Weekly
This book follows sisters Lara and Caroline (both on the spectrum) as Lara starts her own detective agency FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only) and takes on her first mystery. The case takes a turn and leads into family secrets. In addition to exploring how autism shapes each girls personalities, the book highlights the family’s Jewish traditions. This series is great for grade levels 3-7.