In this post I recommend Autism Positive books. As well as being constructive they will help reinforce many of the things I talk about in my articles.

Over the years I have read an awful lot of books about Autism.  Honestly, most of them (many still popular today) are full of myths and stereotypes, so I have carefully selected books by Autistic people and allies of Autistic people that I would recommend. 

Some of the older ones may use outdated terminology, but still have something useful to say.

All of the links below that take you to amazon are affiliate links.  Which means that if you add something to your basket and purchase it, I’ll get a tiny percentage.  It doesn’t cost you anthing more, but does me a small favour, as it’s a way for me to support my income and keep doing stuff for free or as little as possible.

Our Autistic Lives: Personal Accounts from Autistic Adults Around the World Aged 20 to 70+, Elizabeth Ratcliffe

This collection of narratives from autistic adults is structured around their decades of experience of life, covering 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60 and 70s+. These are varied and diverse, spanning different continents, genders, sexualities and ethnicities, yet the author highlights the common themes that unite them and skilfully draws out these threads. 

Each chapter is based on accounts from one age group and includes accounts from people of that age, giving an insight into the history of autism and signifying how gaining a diagnosis (or not) has changed people’s lives over time. The book is about ageing with an autistic mind, and helping the reader find connections between neurotypical and neurodiverse people by acknowledging the challenges we all face in our past, present and futures.

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10 Rules, Dr Damian Milton

Damian’s interest in autism began when his son was diagnosed in 2005 as autistic at the age of two. Damian was also diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2009 at the age of 36. 

Thanks to Damian’s ability to present his views and insights, he is able to challenge many of the ideas held by society. Damian works part-time for the National Autistic Society (NAS) as Head of Autism Knowledge and Expertise (Adults and Community) and sits on the scientific and advisory committee for Research Autism. 

Damian currently teaches on the MA Education (Autism) programme at London South Bank University and is a consultant for the Transform Autism Education (TAE) project. In 2017 Damian joined the Tizard Centre, University of Kent as a part-time Lecturer to coincide with his work for the NAS.

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A mismatch of Salience, Dr Damian Milton

A Mismatch of Salience explores the communication challenges between Autistic people and neurotypical people and seeks to re-balance and celebrate this diversity.

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All the weight of our dreams (Anthology), Edited by Lydia X Brown

Delve into poetry, essays, short fiction, photography, paintings, and drawings in the first-ever anthology entirely by autistic people of color, featuring 61 writers and artists from seven countries. 

The work here represents the lives, politics, and artistic expressions of Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, Mixed-Race, and other racialized and people of color from many autistic communities, often speaking out sharply on issues of marginality, intersectionality, and liberation.

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Neurotribes, Steve Silberman

This is perhaps the most significant history of the discovery, changing conception and public reaction to autism we will see in a generation. –TASH.org

A well-researched, readable report on the treatment of autism that explores its history and proposes significant changes for its future… In the foreword, Oliver Sacks writes that this “sweeping and penetrating history…is fascinating reading” that “will change how you think of autism.” No argument with that assessment. –Kirkus Reviews

Winner of the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction, this Sunday Times bestseller upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.

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The reason I jump, Naoki Higashida

Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of autistic children. 

Using a question and answer format, Naoki explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, and why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks and feels about his world – other people, nature, time and beauty, and himself. 

Abundantly proving that people with autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy, he also makes clear how badly they need our compassion, patience and understanding.

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Fall down 7 times, get up 8, Naoki Higashida

Naoki Higashida met international success with THE REASON I JUMP, a revelatory account of life as a thirteen-year-old with non-verbal autism. Now he offers an equally illuminating insight into autism from his perspective as a young adult. 

In concise, engaging pieces, he shares his thoughts and feelings on a broad menu of topics ranging from school experiences to family relationships, the exhilaration of travel to the difficulties of speech. 

Aware of how mystifying his behaviour can appear to others, Higashida describes the effect on him of such commonplace things as a sudden change of plan, or the mental steps he has to take simply to register that it’s raining. 

Throughout, his aim is to foster a better understanding of autism and to encourage those with disabilities to be seen as people, not as problems.

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Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults, Dr Luke Beardon

This book presents an up-to-date overview of autism and Asperger syndrome, and comments on the realities of adult life including further and higher education, employment, dating and parenthood. For autistic children, teenagers and adults, their families and friends, and any professionals interested in autism. 

Topics include:

Terminology and what’s preferred, Common myths and stereotypes, Diagnosis and related issues, Tips for undiagnosed adults, Understanding how autism impacts on the individual, Sensory issues, Transition into adulthood, Friendships and intimate relationships, The Criminal Justice System – what happens when autistic people break the law

In this sensitive and insightful book, Dr Luke Beardon asserts that there are many hugely intelligent, empathic, kind, caring, loyal and skilled autistic individuals so it s time to treat them as such and respect their differences.

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Bittersweet on the Autism Spectrum (Anthology), Edited by Dr Luke Beardon

In this rich and diverse collection, 28 writers describe what positive experiences they have had as an autistic person, and show how the most unexpected subject areas can be a source of the positive. 

They demonstrate that individuals can, and do, experience life in positive ways, sometimes in the face of adversity. Sharing both dark and joyful moments with unreserved honesty, their insights are moving, often hilarious, creative, and highly intelligent, and usually surprising. 

From hair-raising travelling experiences to parenting with verve, volunteering to teaching, running a marathon to taking on a PhD, they show that autism need not limit life. Introduced by Luke Beardon and Dean Worton, their stories challenge stereotypes surrounding autism, empower, and entertain.

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The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum, Dr Emma Goodall

This book is more than just another resource tool for those of us living with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). It is a guide book for all those bumps in the road that offer a variety of options and confuse us or catch us unawares. It takes our mental health threats and draws a map to aid navigation around or through these. Its clear and concise explanations plus practical application make it a must have for anyone living with and supporting ASC individuals. –from the foreword by Wenn Lawson, PhD, CPsychol, lecturer, and author of Older Adults and Autism Spectrum Conditions

This guide lives up to my high expectations and the authors’ wisdom continues to guide my practice and challenge what I understand about autism. In my opinion, this is an essential resource for not only the person affected but also the people in their lives. –from the foreword by Kirsty Dempster-Rivett, MSocSci PGDip Psych (Clin.)

A self-help resource with practical strategies to support the mental wellbeing of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and mental illness

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Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, Chris Packham

Every minute was magical, every single thing it did was fascinating and everything it didn’t do was equally wondrous, and to be sat there, with a Kestrel, a real live Kestrel, my own real live Kestrel on my wrist! I felt like I’d climbed through a hole in heaven’s fence.

An introverted, unusual young boy, isolated by his obsessions and a loner at school, Chris Packham only felt at ease in the fields and woods around his suburban home. But when he stole a young Kestrel from its nest, he was about to embark on a friendship that would teach him what it meant to love, and that would change him forever. 

In his rich, lyrical and emotionally exposing memoir, Chris brings to life his childhood in the 70s, from his bedroom bursting with fox skulls, birds’ eggs and sweaty jam jars, to his feral adventures. But pervading his story is the search for freedom, meaning and acceptance in a world that didn’t understand him.

Beautifully wrought, this coming-of-age memoir will be unlike any you’ve ever read.

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The Autism Spectrum Guide to Sexuality and Relationships: Understand Yourself and Make Choices that are Right for You, Emma Goodall

Unravelling the complexities of relationships and sexuality, this straight-talking guide will help you to navigate the associated social, emotional and physical issues. Expert advice and real life examples give you the knowledge to reflect on your own sexuality, provide you with information on different types of relationship, and gives you the confidence to decide which type of relationship is right for you. 

Together with important information on sexual health, this book will help you to understand how to find and maintain a relationship of your choosing in a safe and enjoyable way.

Exploring the often unspoken rules of sex and relationships, this book also covers often unaddressed topics, such as:

· what sexual attraction looks and feels like

· how to identify your own sexual identity and preferences (and how they may change)

· what your rights are, and how to stay safe

· having children, or choosing not to, the impact of this on relationships

· how to recognise power imbalances within relationships, and what to do

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It’s an Autism thing, Emma Dalmayne

It’s an Autism thing… I’ll help you understand is a valuable teaching and learning resource, written from the perspective of an autistic woman whose children are also on the autism spectrum.

Each chapter concentrates on a specific topic, which is broken down into ‘My Experiences’, ‘Information’ and ‘Advice’. A picture is used to separate each section and make this clear.

The book offers insights into some of the potential trials and challenges of daily life for an autistic person.

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Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Lianne Holliday Willey

Compelling and witty, Liane Holliday Willey’s account of growing to adulthood as an undiagnosed Autistic has been read by thousands of people on and off the autism spectrum since it was first published in 1999.

Bringing her story up to date, including her diagnosis as an adult, and reflecting on the changes in attitude over 15 years, this expanded edition will continue to entertain (and inform) all those who would like to know a little more about how it feels to spend your life `pretending to be normal’.

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Loud hands: Autistic people speaking, Edited by Julia Bascom

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking is a collection of essays written by and for Autistic people. 

Spanning from the dawn of the Neurodiversity movement to the blog posts of today, Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking catalogues the experiences and ethos of the Autistic community and preserves both diverse personal experiences and the community’s foundational documents together side by side.

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Authoring Autism, Melanie Yergeau

In Authoring Autism Melanie Yergeau defines neurodivergence as an identity—neuroqueerness—rather than an impairment. 

Using a queer theory framework, Yergeau notes the stereotypes that deny autistic people their humanity and the chance to define themselves while also challenging cognitive studies scholarship and its reification of the neurological passivity of autistics. 

She also critiques early intensive behavioral interventions—which have much in common with gay conversion therapy—and questions the ableist privileging of intentionality and diplomacy in rhetorical traditions. Using storying as her method, she presents an alternative view of autistic rhetoricity by foregrounding the cunning rhetorical abilities of autistics and by framing autism as a narrative condition wherein autistics are the best-equipped people to define their experience. 

Contending that autism represents a queer way of being that simultaneously embraces and rejects the rhetorical, Yergeau shows how autistic people queer the lines of rhetoric, humanity, and agency. In so doing, she demonstrates how an autistic rhetoric requires the reconceptualization of rhetoric’s very essence.

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Difference Not Disorder: Understanding Autism Theory in Practice, Dr Catherine Harvey

Interventions and educational approaches for children with autism spectrum disorders have developed in response to the different models for how autism has been constructed and understood. 

This book explores the evolving theories on autism and how these have impacted the interventions and outcomes in education. Drawing on thirty years of professional experience and detailed research, Harvey exposes the myths around autism, advocates for understanding autism as difference rather than impairment, and provides practical guidance on teaching and learning, behaviour management, addressing sensory and physical needs of children with ASD. 

This accessible overview shows how to put autism research into practice, learn from historic mistakes and create the most supportive environment for children on the autism spectrum

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Naming Adult Autism: Culture, Science, Identity, James McGrath

Naming Adult Autism is one of the first critiques of cultural and medical narratives of Autism to be authored by an Autistic adult . 

Autism is a ‘social disorder’, defined by interactions and lifestyle. Yet, the expectations of normalcy against which Autism is defined have too rarely been questioned. 

This book demonstrates the value of the Humanities towards developing fuller understandings of Autistic adulthood, adapting theory from Adorno, Foucault and Butler. 

The chapters expose serious scientific limitations of medical assumptions that Autistic people are gifted at maths but indifferent to fiction. After interrogating such clichés in literature, cinema and television, James McGrath also explores more radical depictions of Autism via novels by Douglas Coupland, Margaret Atwood, Clare Morrall and Meg Wolitzer, plus poems by Les Murray and Joanne Limburg.

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Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women, Dr Sarah Bargiela

Autism in women and girls is still not widely understood, and is often misrepresented or even overlooked. 

This graphic novel offers an engaging and accessible insight into the lives and minds of women with autism, using real-life case studies. The charming illustrations lead readers on a visual journey of how women on the spectrum experience everyday life, from metaphors and masking behaviours to communication online, dealing with social pressures and managing relationships. 

Fun, sensitive and informative, this is a fantastic resource for anyone who wishes to understand how gender affects autism, and how to create safer, more accommodating environments for women on the spectrum.

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The Parents’ Practical Guide to Resilience for Preteens and Teenagers on the Autism Spectrum, Dr Emma Goodall, Jeanette Purkiss

This book empowers parents of autistic young people aged 11 to 20 to help them promote resilience in their child. 

Full of suggestions and simple activities, this easy-to-use resource will help guide parents on how to build the foundations of resilience and independence for situations such as negotiating sexuality and relationships, entering employment or living away from home.

It includes information about the main developmental stages for preteens and teens on the autism spectrum, and will take parents through life events and milestones at different ages and identify where difficulties and barriers to resilience may arise and how to address them.

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Representing Autism: Culture, Narrative, Fascination, Stuart Murray

From concerns of an ‘autism epidemic’ to the MMR vaccine crisis, autism is a source of peculiar fascination in the contemporary media. 

Discussion of the condition has been largely framed within medicine, psychiatry and education but there has been no exploration of its power within representative narrative forms. Representing Autism is the first book to tackle this approach, using contemporary fiction and memoir writing, film, photography, drama and documentary together with older texts to set the contemporary fascination with autism in context. 

Representing Autism analyses and evaluates the place of autism within contemporary culture and at the same time examines the ideas of individual and community produced by people with autism themselves to establish the ideas of autistic presence that emerge from within a space of cognitive exceptionality. Central to the book is a sense of the legitimacy of autistic presence as a way by which we might more fully articulate what it means to be human.

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Understanding and Evaluating Autism Theory, Nick Chown

Addressing the full spectrum of theoretical output associated with autism and Asperger syndrome, this is the complete guide to autism theory – spanning from mainstream and alternative, through to non-autism specific theories that might be applied to autism. Previous study on autism has made significant inroads into the individual branches of autism theory, however, no text has brought together the complete range of theories in an accessible textbook for students and academics. The author argues that a more obvious application of theory to autism intervention would be beneficial to practitioners. With access to the complete range of available autism and Asperger syndrome theory, from development theories to learning style theories, the academics and students working towards the practical application of theory to intervention will have all the necessary information at their disposal. The book is based on a series of autism theory lectures delivered for Sheffield Hallam University.

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Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, Cynthia Kim

Cynthia Kim shares all the quirkyness of being Autistic in this accessible, witty and honest guide. 

From being labelled nerdy and shy as an undiagnosed child to redefining herself when diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as an adult, she describes how her perspective shifted to understanding a previously largely incomprehensible world and combines this with extensive research to explore the ‘why’ of Autistic traits. 

She explains how they impact on everything from self-care to holding down a job and offers typically practical and creative strategies to help manage them including a section on the benefits of martial arts for Autistic people. 

Packed full of personal anecdotes and useful advice, this humorous, insider guide will be of immeasurable value to recently diagnosed autistic adults and their partners and family members, carers and mental health professionals.

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I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Self-Discovery for Adults, Cynthia Kim

What if instead of being weird, shy, geeky or introverted, your brain is wired differently? For adults with undiagnosed Autism, there is often an “aha!” moment–when you realize that Autism just might be the explanation for why you’ve always felt so different.

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You may also like to visit my overview of Safe places online for Parents of Autistic children and Autistic people to learn about Autism

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    1 Response to "Recommended Autism Positive Books"

    • Taran kaur

      Thanks for the book suggestions!! I found your blog through a course I’m doing and I really like your blog and honest approach. I don’t personally have autism (well it’s a spectrum so maybe) I’ve supported people in the past as part of my job and I really enjoy it, it makes sense to me. Have you written anything on overwhelm and anxiety? Do you feel they are interconnected as traits or separate. Also I’m a yoga teacher and that is a whole great discuss ion on it’s own as breathwork and movement grounds me and gives me more body awareness. I would love to know your thoughts.

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