Children who are diagnosed with autism have a tough time in social situations. Anxiety can lead to hitting or biting. Communicating their thoughts and feelings is often exasperating for them. There are a lot of books out there to help your kid cope (see below), but maybe more importantly, there are a lot of books to help the people around your kid understand them better and not be so judgmental (also, see below). Here are a few helpful stories about loveable characters that think differently.
Everyone gets upset, but learning how to deal with it is something that kids with autism struggle with. Percy, of the I See, I Learn book series offers your kid a visual game plan of how to deal with tantrum time. See how he counts to 10? See how he takes a deep breath? See how he gives zero f–ks about finding his other shoe?
Ages: 2 – 5
Percy Gets Upset by Stuart J. Murphy ($7)
Another good resource on how to properly control emotions, When My Worries Get Too Big teaches children with anxiety how to identify when they’re getting into the tantrum danger zone. But more importantly, it offers a calming strategies for relaxing. Because sometimes sitting in the toy aisle at Target for an hour isn’t an option.
Ages: All Ages
When My Worries Get Too Big by Kari Dunn Burton ($7)
Labeling a child as autistic can make them feel like they have limitations in the world, but the opposite is actually true. Show them that some of the most badass thinkers in history (from Albert Einstein to Sir Isaac Newton) have been on the spectrum, and their lives turned out pretty, pretty … pretty good.
Ages: 8 – 12
Different Like Me: My Book Of Autism Heroes by Jennifer Elder and Marc Thomas ($17)
Knowledge is power for your kid, and that’s especially true when it’s knowledge about their own brain. If you’re struggling to come up with some relatable ways to talk about how they will have strengths and difficulties, use this doctor-approved book as a useful roadmap.
My Autism Book by Tamar Levi and Glòria Durà-Vilà
Give them a dose of self-confidence with the story of Zane, a zebra with autism who worries his friends are judging him for being different. Stan Lee, Bill Paxton, Russell Simmons, and Joe Mantegna all endorse this book, and when was the last time you didn’t enjoy something that one of those guys did?
Ages: 4 – 8
All My Stripes: A Story For Children With Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer and Jennifer Zivoin ($15)
Getting your child with ASD to understand themselves is one thing. Getting all of their little friends to jibe with them is another. In this book, When he enters a public school, Simon gives his buddies a lesson about how he sees the world, they give him the patience and respect he deserves. (Until he gets to high school — then it’s open season on everyone.)
A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynot ($10)
Another book that tackles the tough subject of what classmates with ASD might be experiencing. Counsellor and educator Pat Thomas lays it out in terms that little kids can understand. Because at that age, no child should be judgmental about someone with special needs. They should be judgmental about which Thomas the Tank Engine is best (Hint: It’s James.)
Ages: 4 -7
I See Things Differently: A First Look At Autism by Pat Thomas ($7)
Based on author Holly Robinson Peete’s son and co-written by her daughter, is the story of all the great things about living with someone who has ASD (Charlie can play a mean piano and he knows all the American presidents) and hard things (he’s not very communicative). But mostly it demonstrates that this brother/sister relationship is just like anyone else’s.
Ages: 3 – 7
My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete, Ryan Elizabeth Peete and Shane Evans ($18)
Saying what most adults think before they speak may be giving most people too much credit, but it’s supposed to work like that. For kids on the spectrum, knowing what is appropriate in which situation isn’t always obvious. I Can’t Believe You Said That will either show them how to use their social filter to be a polite person. Or, failing that, a stand-up comic.
Ages: 5 – 11
I Can’t Believe You Said That!: My Story about Using My Social Filter…or Not! (Best Me I Can Be!) by Julia Cook and Kelsey De Weerd ($11)