When it comes to learning a new skill or task, children do their best particularly if they are engaged in the task and interested in it as well. The same works for learning language and this is no different in the case of children who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Children with autism may struggle to pick up language skills and therefore, it is important that you as parents introduce reading to them from a very early age so that they can associate a positive feeling with reading.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of reading a book for autistic kids and we will provide you with a list of children’s books about autism with the help of which your child can develop not just their language skills but also, develop a sense of awareness and understanding.
Benefits of Reading a Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
In general, children’s books use rhyming and repetitive words to get the attention of the child and help them focus on the written language. In addition to this, by reading a visual book as young readers, your children will develop new vocabulary along with concepts of new social structures.
However, in the case of autistic children, more than picking up new words or understanding the fine balance of new societal structures as depicted in the book, it’s important that they become aware of phonetic sounds, language as a whole, and develop their recognition skills through pictures or rhyming words.
This is why books that are modified specifically for children with autism such as Adapted Books are best for them as these books are created with the sole purpose of making ‘learning’ more accessible to the children.
These books will typically have:
- Physical objects glued to the pages of the book
- Page spacers to help kids turn the page with much ease
- Pictures matching with words
- Large text fonts
- Moveable images and visuals
- Optional Braille
- Assistive technology
Now, let us focus on the benefits of giving this type of books to your child:
Adapted Books Help Autistic Children Engage with them Physically
As we stated earlier, adapted books come with physical objects glued on their pages and this helps the child to engage with the book physically. This is extremely important as children with autism often struggle to engage with people or things emotionally.
By being able to touch and feel the objects in the book, they are more likely to be interested in the book and want to interact with it more. In addition to this, they are also likely to remember the concepts better as they have experienced them through multiple senses.
Adapted Books Help in Building Motor Skills
Another benefit of reading an adapted book is that it can help in building your child’s motor skills. Autistic children often have difficulty in controlling their muscles and therefore, by handling the physical objects in the book and turning the pages, they are essentially working on their fine motor skills.
Adapted Books Help Autistic Children with Memory Recall
Some children with autism struggle with memory recall. This can be quite frustrating for them as they often struggle to remember what they read or what was said to them.
However, if you read an adapted book with your child, not only will they be able to follow along with the pictures and words but also, they will be able to associate certain things with tangible objects. This way, they are more likely to remember what they have read or heard.
Adapted Books Make the Story and the Characters Livable for Your Children
A lot of times, autistic children struggle to understand social cues and this can make it difficult for them to connect with the characters in a book. However, if you are reading an adapted book, the characters will be more accessible to them as they would have been made more ‘likable’.
In addition to this, the story itself would be more relatable to them as it will be based on familiar events or settings. This will help your child in developing empathy and understanding for other people.
Adapted Books Help Autistic Children Develop Language Skills
One of the most important benefits of adapted books is that they help autistic children develop their language skills. By looking at the pictures and by hearing the words spoken aloud, they are able to learn new words and understand how they are used in a sentence.
In addition to this, they will also be able to learn the phonetic sounds of different words and develop their pronunciation skills. This is extremely important as language skills are the foundation for reading and writing abilities.
Adaptive Books Increase Your Child’s Concentration Levels
Autistic children often have difficulty concentrating on one thing for a long period of time. However, by reading an adaptive book with them, you can help them increase their concentration levels.
This is because they will be required to focus on the pictures and the words in order to understand the story. In addition to this, they will also be able to take breaks in between and come back to the book without losing their place.
Adapted Books Give an Impression of a Safe Place to Your Children
Lastly, by reading an adapted book with your child, you are essentially creating a safe place for them where they can feel comfortable and secure. This is important as autistic children can often feel overwhelmed by their surroundings and need a place where they can just relax and be themselves.
Having a favorite book can act as a ‘safe place’ for your child.
So, these are some of the benefits of reading adapted books for your autistic child.
Now that we have discussed the benefits of reading children’s books about autism, let us look at some of the best books out there that can help your young children learn, grow, and progress in their life as normal but unique human beings:
The Reason I Jump
This is an autobiographical book by a thirteen-year-old Japanese boy who portrays the different aspects of autistic life, vividly. This book clearly but humanely brings out all the complexities of an autistic mind.
An extremely charming, self-aware, and smart boy gives the readers a close view of his autistic and unique mind in terms of how he thinks, perceives, feels, acts, and responds to his surroundings and situations.
You will see how this young boy struggles to put meanings to words and sentences that he could not speak out loudly. Through a gripping and fascinating tale, this boy answers all the delicate questions about autism: why children diagnosed with autism talk so loudly, why do they not establish any eye contact while talking, or why do they line up their toys, cars, dolls, etc?
In fact, the title of the book, “The Reason I Jump”, comes from the boy’s own feelings of “going upward to the sky” – when he jumps.
This book is a must if you want to hear about autism from a thirteen-year-old boy with his utmost honesty and unique perspective.
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings
This is a book that tells the story of an autistic boy who tries hard to hide his big, big feelings from all the other kids in his school. This continues until this autistic kid meets a girl with big, big feelings as well. After meeting this girl, the boy realizes that his feelings and emotions need not be hidden or ashamed of but should be celebrated for big feelings that could happen to anyone and everyone.
The author of this book encapsulates the feelings of children diagnosed with autism immaculately through the story of an autistic kid who experiences feelings so big that they glow from his cheeks, jump up and down on his chest, and come spilling out of his eyes.
This young boy feels his feelings are absurd and therefore, he needs to hide them from other kids. This coping mechanism works until with some artistic inspiration and help, the boy realizes that his feelings need to be celebrated rather than being hidden.
Through this autism picture book, the author makes the feeling of anxiety or extreme emotion highly relatable to children of all age groups, no matter where they stand on the autism spectrum.
So, if your kid has been diagnosed with ASD or experiences big feelings, this book will especially help you and your beloved one.
The Autism Acceptance book
This is an educational and highly interactive book for children in introducing them to the challenges that are faced by other children or people diagnosed with autism. In fact, this book helps a lot in the character building of your children as they realize how important it is to appreciate and accept people with their differences and unique qualities.
The most important point that the author makes in this book is that children need to learn to treat people with differences the same way that they would like to be treated themselves. And this lesson is introduced to the young readers through information, exercises, and engaging conversation starters.
After reading this exceptional book, children will learn what it feels like to “walk in someone else’s shoes”.
The beauty of the content of this book is that it’s not solely directed towards Autism. Although it focuses on autism, the broader picture that this book shares is about life lessons on accepting and embracing people’s differences.
In the field of autism, this book is always considered in high regard as it is this book that made the United Nations launch the Autism Awareness Day and has helped Autism Speaks become the First National Walk Sponsor.
So, as parents, if you want to sow the seeds of respecting and embracing each others’ differences in your child’s mind, buy this book today as this will encourage them to be kind and compassionate.
This is an award-winning autism picture book on inclusion and acceptance. The picture book tells the tale of two sisters, the elder one Leah, and the younger Sarah, and how they face day-to-day challenges of interacting with people who do not understand the complex disorder of autism.
Leah is diagnosed with autism but Sarah does not ever make her feel she is different or not like others. Instead, she becomes an amazing friend, a loving companion, and an advocate for Leah. Sarah does not just help others understand autism better but she also encourages people to have compassion for every single soul with special needs.
This is the story of two siblings and how they bond over humanity, compassion, and pure love. Sarah, the younger sibling leads by example in showing Leah how much she loves her, and in doing so she plays a critical role in teaching others the importance of inclusion and acceptance. The book is a fantastic depiction of life with limitless opportunities and potential even if you are unique as a child with autism spectrum disorders.
Although this illustrated picture book contains images from professional artists, the author of this book, who is actually the mother of Leah and Sarah, has skillfully added the drawings and creations of Leah to several pages of the book. According to her mother, these artworks have always provided a calming effect on Leah.
So, if you want a glimpse of life in all its exceptional beauty, you need this book as a tool for teaching people the importance of accepting each others’ differences and treating everyone with the utmost respect.
My Brother Charlie
This is a heartwarming story of a boy who has autism, written by the bestselling author and actor Holly Robinson Peete. The story is written in collaboration with the author’s daughter and is based on the author’s own autistic boy.
The story revolves around the life of twins Callie and Charlie, whom the latter has autism. Callie narrates the story of her brother Charlie and her family, who is in unconditional love with Charlie even though his brain works differently than others.
Callie touches our hearts when she tells how her autistic brother Charlie is different and cannot do things that most of us do but similarly Charlie is exceptionally talented in many things that other kids are not good at. For example, he knows the name of all the American Presidents, he knows quite a lot about airplanes, which is an area of interest, and most importantly, Callie has never heard anyone playing the piano better than her brother.
Through this book, the author tries to explain autism from the point of challenges faced by the disorder and also highlights all the beautiful things that come with it. This book describes the life of a family with complete honesty and tells the readers what normal life feels like when you are living with someone who has been diagnosed with autism.
Callie concludes the book by saying a beautiful line which says even though her brother Charlie cannot say “I love you”, there are countless ways by which he shows his feelings.
A Friend like Simon
This is one of the best-illustrated children’s books out there that introduces autism in the world of mainstream school. This educational book enlightens other kids to be understanding and mindful of the differences that exist between two people and helps them focus on all the positive contributions and the beautiful things that an autistic mind is capable of doing.
The story of this picture book begins with a young boy Mathew who greets his friend Simon on the very first day of their new school. However, Mathew soon realizes that Simon is a boy who does things differently, thinks differently, and acts differently. This makes him come to the conclusion that Simon is a little different than other kids and this thought troubles Mathew on whether he wants to have a ‘friend like Simon”!
This doubt completely erases from Mathew’s mind after a school trip to funfair where he looks at all the positive contributions that Simon can make to the group.
The most important message that this book conveys to its young readers is that patience, acceptance, and tolerance is the key to living a happy life no matter how different a person is from you. Through this book, the author introduces autism spectrum disorders in mainstream schools and without putting an individual on spot, through Simon, the author teaches students and teachers alike to be respectful of different disabilities.
The Girl Who Thought In Pictures
This is a biographical picture book on Dr. Temple Grandin, who is a major spokesperson in the field of the autism spectrum.
Through this book, the author covers the journey in the life of Dr. Temple Grandin from her early childhood days when she was diagnosed with autism to her successful career as a scientist and expert in livestock and animal behavior.
In her early life, Dr. Grandin was diagnosed with autism as she quite easily got overstimulated, could not mix with other kids in the block, and most importantly did not utter a single word till the age of 3. Life wasn’t easy for this little girl. Other kids were extremely mean to her and she was also thrown out of her school when she threw a book at her classmate.
After all this turmoil, Dr. Grandin was sent to live with her aunt on a ranch where her inner talent blossomed and she discovered her true potential. From a very early age, it was not just autism that made Temple different from others; it was her incredible visual memory where she could visualize her thoughts and feel them as well in terms of ‘pictures’. This uniqueness of her blossomed when on the ranch she discovered her innate talent of understanding animal behavior in a way that others could never even think of!
Ultimately, she overcame all the challenges and became a leading expert in the world when it comes to livestock and animal behavior. The moral of the story that the author wishes to share with the readers is that this world needs every kind of mind no matter how different it is from the rest of us.
All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
This is an engaging picture book that is humorous, insightful, and touching for people who are familiar with the behavioral patterns of Asperger Syndrome (AS).
This book is designed brilliantly with colorful photographs of cats who are depicting the different characteristics of people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome such as sensory processing disorder, sensitive hearing, erratic eating habits, and scampering at the very first instance of being stroked.
The contents of this book will intrigue you, inform you and entertain you as well because, with drawings of the feline world, the author has beautifully summarized all the difficulties along with the joys of raising a kid who is different from others. And in no way the author compromises the individuality, dignity, and true potential of people with Asperger’s Syndrome.
So, if you want to discover your children’s unique world shaped by Asperger’s Syndrome, buy this remarkable book and make your discovery informative as well as enjoyable.
All My Stripes
This book is for children who have been diagnosed with autism and for children who do not understand the complexities of autism. In addition to a loving story, this book also provides a reading guide to teachers, caregivers, and parents along with tips on how to deal with autism.
The story revolves around the life of Zane, the zebra where he complains to his Mama that all his classmates are only focused on one single stripe of his that is the stripe of autism. Zane cannot understand why everyone only notices only his differences and does not appreciate the other stripes of his.
With the help of Mama, Zane discovers all his stripes like the honesty stripe, the caring stripe, the pilot stripe and appreciates all the unique attributes that he has got within himself.
The simple message that this colorful children’s book conveys is the importance of loving oneself and being proud of one’s differences. For children who have not heard of autism, this book gives them a mirror to look at people with a feeling of respect and not with neglect, for autistic kids are not different from others but exceptionally unique than others.
These are some of the best-selling autism acceptance books for children.
All of these books contain beautiful illustrations and are specifically designed for autistic kids to help them develop their social skills, reading skills, and communicative skills.