Books About Autism

Why are there so many good books about autism? Sadly, maybe it’s because there are so many families dealing with this very difficult diagnosis. I love to read “my problem and how I solved it books” (think Ladies Home Journal’s long-running “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” series). Unfortunately many of the family members with autism in their lives do not have solvable problems. Nevertheless, the novels mentioned here show sensitivity, intelligence and often the dark humor needed to survive.
In Daniel Isn’t Talking by Marti Leimbach, Melanie Marsh, an American living in London, tries to keep her marriage going after she and her husband learn that their two-year-old son is autistic. Lots of humor and a white knight of a therapist.

Another mother, Rachel, battles fiercely for her young son’s emotional health and the health of the rest of her family in Ann Bauer’s Wild Ride Up the Cupboards. In the compelling mystery Eye Contact, by Cammie McGovern, an autistic child is found next to the body of a murdered child. Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon is a gently humorous exemplary first novel in which a 15-year-old autistic boy, falsely accused of murdering a dog, sets out to find the real killer. Family Pictures by Sue Miller is a timeless saga by the master novelist about how an autistic son directly affects the whole family.

What’s Up with Autism? is the title of a free lecture tonight at the Central Library, as part of the Medical Series of lectures sponsored by The Seattle Public Library and the University of Washington School of Medicine. Topics covered will include the increase of autism diagnoses, current understanding of autism and approaches to treatment. ~ Susan

3 thoughts on “Books About Autism”

  1. A fascinating book that really helped me to get a glimpse into what it must be like to live with autism–even more than “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night”–was Temple Grandin’s book, “Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.” I could not put that book down! Grandin, who is autistic herself, has written quite a lot on the topic. She’s one of my heroes.

  2. Temple Grandin is also one of the subjects in Oliver Sack’s An anthropologist on Mars. The book title comes from how Grandin describes herself – she knows in her head what someone is doing/meaning when they smile for example, but does not experience the emotion herself – rather like an anthropologist may describe a rite in a culture but does not have an indepth understanding or emotional attachment as the participants do.

  3. If I am allowed to expand this to include all autism spectrum disorders, I would like to recommend “Look me in the eye: My life with Asperger’s” by John Elder Robison. The author does a wonderful job of describing how he perceives and interacts with the world. He has had amazing careers, including designing pyrotechnic guitars for KISS. He is also the older brother of author Augusten Burroughs (“Running with scissors: A memoir”) and it is interesting to get his perspective on their astonishingly dysfunctional family. I read “Look me in the eye” shortly after I finished “The short bus: A journey beyond normal” by Jonathan Mooney and both of these books really got me thinking about how our society defines ability, categorizes disability, and labels people who are different.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s