17 Autism and Asperger’s Books That Really Get the Condition

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When it comes to the autistic spectrum, many of us (even people who have the condition) don’t fully comprehend it. With such unique ways of thinking, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can make living life either incredibly interesting or incredibly difficult (especially when someone says they’re “fine,” and you know they’re not). But for those of you who either live with ASD or have partners or children with ASD, books are a wonderful way to interpret and understand the inner workings of “Aspies.” So we’ve rounded up a collection of great reads for every age group, every audience, and every genre ranging from informative, to fictional, to autobiographical, to really hit all sides of the mental disorder.

Here are our top picks:

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

When it comes to making friends, Jacob Hunt, a teenager with Asperger’s, could use some lessons. But if there’s one thing that Jacob is great at, it’s forensic analysis … and interrupting crime scene investigations to tell the cops what to do. When a horrific murder happens in the town and the only thing leading the police in the right direction is Jacob. Family tension arises as the murder case and Jacob’s inexplicable ability to find the right clues creates distant reactions to this special family.

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Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Dr. Barry M. Prizant

Uniquely Human, a book considered “groundbreaking” in autism research, brings an entirely new perspective to the disorder. Dr. Prizant strays from the traditional concept that considers autism a pathological dysfunction, and instead classifies autistic behaviors as a wide range of coping mechanisms for a world that seems dysfunctional and uncomfortable. Using his extensive experience working in the medical field, Dr. Prizant offers inspiring stories and advice on how to enhance good behaviors without negating (or attempting to disrupt) autistic challenges.

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To Siri, With Love by Judith Newman

To Siri, With Love is a collection of stories based on Judith Newman’s New York Time’s op-ed column with the same name. Loosely based on her own life raising an autistic child, Newman writes about a thirteen-year-old autistic boy named Gus who befriends his mother’s iPhone — or rather, her iPhone’s automatic assistant, Siri. What follows is a collection of humorous stories about what it’s like to live with Gus, a young boy who hops up and down when he’s happy and insists on taking his clothes off during meals. The book’s namesake short story, “To Siri, With Love” shows how Gus’s unlikely friendship with an automated “assistant” aids him in understanding human emotions — and also helps his mother understand Gus as well.

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All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann

What do cats and Asperger’s have in common? This book will tell you — in the most adorable way, which includes plenty of kitten pictures and easy-to-read sentences. The All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome children’s book is most ideal for young people on the spectrum, siblings, or anyone in the living room, really.

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The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Written “for Aspies by an Aspie,” the Book of Social Rules is here for one reason: to help teenagers with Asperger’s understand the world around them in an appreciative and compassionate manner. This handbook is specifically targeted for adolescents with the understanding that being a teenager is difficult enough without having to deal with Asperger’s too. Although this book is in no way condescending, be prepared for candid, forthright conversation: something all Aspies would appreciate. With chapters entitled, “Laughing with You vs. Laughing at You” and “I’m Sorry: The Hardest Words to Say,” you know you’re going to get straightforward answers.

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Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

This New York Times best-selling memoir was written by novelist and autism leader, John Elder Robison. Follow Robison’s incredible life with autism from dropping out of school to obsessing over sound mechanics (eventually leading him to work with famous bands like Pink Floyd and Kiss). Any Aspie would find Robison’s journey both comforting and inspiring.

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The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch

At 30 years old, David Finch received his diagnosis for Asperger’s Syndrome. This meant, that for years he and his wife Kristen had worked through David’s quirky mannerisms without knowing he had a disorder. Thus, on a mission to better his marriage, David Finch began writing down notes to himself. Reminders for whenever inspiration would spark — like not to change the radio channel when Kristen is singing along. He also wrote tips on how to be a better father. Thus, came to be his book of “best practices,” a guide he hopes to aid many other spouses living on the spectrum.

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Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm

Ellen Notbohm’s personal experience with her own autistic and ADHD children makes her book both personalized and empathetic. Written in first person from the voice of an autistic child, Notbohm expresses ten critical traits of autism including “I interpret language very literally,” and “Please be patient with my limited vocabulary.” The book has won multiple awards and has consistently been lauded as a must-have for any parent raising a child on the autism spectrum.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

In this heartfelt, pseudo-mystery tale, you’ll follow the story of fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone, an autistic teenager who stumbles upon a dead neighborhood poodle named Wellington, killed via pitchfork. Christopher, who has a remarkable love for animals and a fascination with puzzles, immediately sets out on a quest to find the murderer. As the story unfolds, and Christopher gets closer to solving Wellington’s murder, he discovers the incident was more complex than he had originally thought — and in some way, ties back to his own father.

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The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism by Naoki Higashida

A touching memoir by a nonverbal, autistic adult through the voice of his teenage self. Which, of course, is a time when many adolescent obstacles are being overturned … only made more difficult when you can’t say a word. In a collaboration of art and storytelling (even his chapter titles are poetic, like “The Black Crow and the White Dove”), this book takes you on a sensory journey. Poetic, sincere, and colorful, The Reason I Jump is the perfect book for anyone looking to understand the autistic spectrum from a first person perspective.

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Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet’s autobiography is extraordinary in two ways. The first, is that 27-year-old Tammet lives with both autism and synesthesia — a syndrome that allows him to understand words and numbers in “shapes, colors, textures, and motions.” As one of only 50 people in the world who live with both conditions, Tammet’s perspective on autism and his ability to actually describe what it’s like through more descriptive bounds is truly incredible. Ideal for anyone who wants to understand more about how someone with the condition understands the world, Born on a Blue Day is the book to turn to.

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Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

From the same author who wrote Still Alice, now a major motion film that covers dementia, Love Anthony dives into the world of autism through the eyes of two non-autistic women. The first, Olivia, had a young autistic boy named Anthony, who died at age eight. After the death of a child, then divorce, Olivia befriends Beth, who is also recently single. Beth writes a novel as a way to cope with her grief, and as the women share their tales, Anthony’s positive outlooks on life start to shine through.

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22 Things a Woman Must Know If She Loves a Man with Asperger’s Syndrome by Rudy Simone

Similar to (yet different from) Finch’s detailed guide for “aspie” spouses, this is a book takes on the perspective of a non-autistic spouse. In particular, a wife’s perspective. Divided into 22 traits commonly found in the emotionally distant, seemingly uninterested Asperger man, Simone offers hope and understanding to her women readers. From taking the relationship for granted to throwing ill-tempered tantrums, this book shows how to handle it all.

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Thinking in Pictures by Dr. Temple Grandin

One of the greatest pioneers in autism advocacy as well as a person living with autism herself, Temple Grandin wrote this book as a way to explain the disorder — as she’s experienced it — to the general public. Thus, Thinking in Pictures is an exploration on visual thinking for the misunderstood mind.

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Asperger’s and Adulthood: A Guide to Working, Loving, and Living With Asperger’s Syndrome by Blythe Grossberg

Targeted specifically to adults (or rather, up and coming adults) who live with Asperger’s, Blythe Grossberg’s guide covers every transitional step into adulthood for someone living on the spectrum. This includes how to live independently, move into your own home, land your first job, engage in small talk (yikes!), and more. For further inspiration, Grossberg also provides inspiring, true stories and even a couple scripts for your first date or interview.

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The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood

For a “by the books” kind of read, check out Tony Atwood’s Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome — a definitive guide to everything Asperger’s. The textbook covers neurological causes, symptoms and effects, individual perception, and the role it plays in social interaction, relationships, and day-to-day life. By sourcing case studies, the book takes a very informative and pragmatic approach to the disorder that makes for a great first read.

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All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph

This children’s book follows Zane, a zebra with autism who worries his red stripes will make him stand out from all the other “normal” black and white zebras. The book begins with Zane telling his mother that nobody understands him, who then explains to him all the ways in which he is wonderful. Though many autistic children will be able to relate to Zane’s difficulty in social settings, the book is great for any non-autistic child as well to help them learn about the disorder.

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