Posted on March 31, 2014 in Autism
If you have been following me on my blog or on Facebook for a few years, you know that I typically use Autism Awareness Month to highlight 30 different supports, tips, or ideas for learners on the spectrum. Since I have done that for so long, I thought it might be fun to “mix it up” a bit and share wisdom from others instead. Therefore, starting tomorrow, I will be featuring books written by experts. Every day of April I will highlight an autobiography that has had a profound impact on my work.
Without a doubt, autobiographies are my favorite way to learn about autism. I have read well over one hundred of them in my career and have used them in my college courses, in my research, and to guide me in my work in schools. I believe these texts are the best resource for families new to the world of autism, for teachers with questions about new students, and for young people and adults who are themselves receiving a diagnosis.
Because I have only 30 days, I will be leaving out many important books so I want to be very clear that these featured books are not the only ones I recommend—they are just the ones that I use most often and that have been most relevant for me in my specific roles as teacher and teacher educator. I used very simple criteria to select the books:
- The book was authored or co-authored by someone on the autism spectrum. This left out many of my favorite family accounts (e.g., The Spark by Kristine Barnett; Eating an Artichoke by Echo Fling; A Slant of Sun by Beth Kephart; Reasonable People by Ralph Savarese) as well as many great books about people on the spectrum written by teachers, researchers, and loved ones.
- The book also had to be a traditional autobiography to make the cut. I didn’t include books on other topics written by folks on the spectrum (e.g., Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin) or even books on autism that were personal favorites but did not fit into this genre. This left out some top-notch guidebooks on autism written by folks on the spectrum (e.g., Your Life is Not a Label by Jerry Newport; The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships by Temple Grandin & Sean Barron), poetry books (e.g., Not Just Anything by Donna Williams; Making Lemonade by Judy Endow), or kiddie or young adult books written about life on the spectrum (e.g., Finding Out About Asperger Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism and PDD by Gunilla Gerland).
- Finally, I had to have read and used the book in my own work. There are definitely autobiographies out there I have not yet read that have been highly recommended to me, but I wanted to be sure I could confidently stand behind each pick made. Therefore, I only included books I knew inside and out and that I had somehow been able to use in my work. Many of these I have read several times, most are severely highlighted and dog-eared, and at least a half dozen of these I have been known to order by the case load instead of copy by copy.
All of this to say, that some fabulous books will not be featured. However, to be sure we leave no autobiography behind, I will ask all of you to chime in with your picks on the last day of the month. So, instead of choosing a thirtieth book myself, I will ask all of you to add your own favorite books to complete the list. Therefore, by the end of the April, we should all have a great collection of resources to add to our spring and summer reading lists.
Ready to read? Tune in tomorrow for my first selection or simply subscribe to my blog and have each day’s post sent right to your inbox.