Empowering autism books and videos to buy for friends, teachers, and yourself

by Debra Muzikar

This is a list of books and movies which I feel have helped me understand the individual experiences of some on the autism spectrum. With the holidays approaching these books will make great gifts for teachers, therapists, and family members.

First Person Accounts (female) – autism in females manifest differently than males. These women have written incredible books which will give the reader an insight to autism and Aspergers.

“I loved to copy, create, and order things. I loved our set of encyclopedias. They had letters and numbers on the side, and I was always checking to make sure they were in order…” Donna Williams, “Nobody Nowhere,” Times Books. Donna’s books “Nobody Nowhere” and “Somebody Somewhere” are classics.


Judy Endow, “Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated,” (Cambridge Book Review Press), a beautifully illustrated book with Judy’s poetry and practical advice to give individuals a better understanding of the autistic experience. Read book review here.

Rudy Simone, “Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Aspergers,” (Jessica Kingsley) – Rudy Simone looks at her own life with Asperger’s and what’s unique to being female on the spectrum. A book many females on the autism spectrum can relate to. Read about Rudy Simone here.

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker, “Under the Banana Moon: Living, Loving, Loss and Aspergers,” (Ink Well Publishing). Lyrically-written book by an artist (Aspergers) who has a poetic vision of her life. Read about Kimberly here.

Temple Grandin, “Thinking in Pictures,” Temple’s classic memoir from 1986. Temple, of course, has many books which are worth reading.

First Person Accounts from Autistic People (male)

“Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different…We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that might give us quiet pleasure.” Naoki Higashida.

Naoki Higashida, “The Reason I Jump, ” (Random House) – a first-person account written by a nonverbal high school student. Profound read.


John Elder Robison, “Raising Cubby,” (Crown) a memoir about raising a child with Aspergers by a dad with Aspergers. An informative and fun-read. Read book review here.

Jerry Newport, “Your Life is Not a Label,” (Future Horizons) first-person account with practical advice for those living with Autism and Asperger’s.

Daniel Tammet, “Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant,” (Free Press) Daniel has linguistic, numerical and visual synesthesia. This is a fascinating memoir by a person who has incredible skills but also many challenges.


Julia Bascom, “The Loud Hands Project Anthology,” (The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network) – this is a thought-provoking anthology of writings of Autistic people. It will give the reader insight into the autism advocacy movement and autistic pride.

Cindy N. Ariel and Robert A. Naseef, “Voices from the Spectrum,” (Jessica Kingsley) A fascinating first-person anthology of parents, grandparents, siblings, Autistic people, and professionals.

Barking Sycamores is a literary journal which publishes poetry, short fiction and art work of neurodivergent writers.

A New Way to Look at Autism

“Negative words carry negative vibration. Positive words carry positive vibration. What do you want your child to reflect back to you, the label of disordered or the label of gifted in a new way?” Suzy Miller, “Awesomism,” (iUniverse) Suzy is a speech therapist who has come to a new understanding of autism.

Michael Fitzgerald, “The Genesis of Artistic Creativity: Asperger’s Syndrome and the Arts,” (Jessica Kingsley) – an exploration of the social behavior, language, humor and obsessive interests of 21 famous writers, philosophers, musicians, and painters.

Patrick Jasper Lee – author to many books available on www.ravinepress.com. Patrick is a shaman who views autism as a new way of being on the planet. Patrick is also has synesthesia and sees the world in geometric patterns. Read about Patrick here.

Temple Grandin, “The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed,” Temple looks at scientific discoveries and current research to come up with a helpful book for anyone working with Autistic people.

Gayle Barkley Lee and Lyrica Mia Marquez, “AWEtizm: A Hidden Key to Our Spiritual Magnificence,” Lyrica is an Autistic mystic and shares her understanding of why autistic people are here. This book will challenge the reader to look at autism in a much different way.

Thomas Armstrong, “The Power of Neurodiversity” (ASCD) – this book looks at the strengths of people who are differently abled. A new way of looking at the world.

Practical Books

Thomas Armstrong, “Neurodiversity in the Classroom,” (ASCD) – a different way to teach by looking at strength-based education. Book review here.

Linda and Brent Anderson, “Unintentional Humor: Celebrating the Literal Mind,” a fun cartoon-book that teaches idioms, available at www.unintentionalhumor.com. At $10 a bargain. Read about Brent and Linda here.

Susan Rodriguez, “The Special Artist’s Handbook” (Crystal Productions) – a practical book containing many fun activities with accommodations for children of different disAbilities. Read a review here.

Jennifer Cook O’Toole, “The Asperkid’s Game Plan” (Jessica Kingsley) – an activity book which will keep Asperkid engaged. Jennifer has many practical books including “The Asperkid’s Guide to Social Rules.”

“Limericks from the Animal Kingdom” illustrated by Carly Hatton — many people love Limericks. This is a fun book illustrated by a young woman on the autism spectrum. A great stocking stuffer. Available on Amazon.


Author Morowa Yejide featured artists from The Art of Autism at a book signing
Author Morowa Yejide featured artists from The Art of Autism at a book signing

Morowa Yejide, “Time of the Locust,” (Atria Books) – finalist for the 2012 Pen/Bellwether prize for socially engaged fiction. This is a wonderful book about a black single mom raising a magical child on the autism spectrum.

Art Compilation Books


Debra Hosseini, “The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions” – a compilation of writings, stories and art of 77 people on the autism spectrum, available at www.the-art-of-autism.com. Buy it here.

Jill Mullin, “Drawing Autism,” (Akashic Press) – a beautiful art compilation book

Children’s Books

Kelly Green has a series of coloring books for children to learn about autism and acceptance. They are available by emailing Kelly at autismhwy (@) gmail.com.


McNall Mason and Max Suarez, “Max from the Planet of Cool,” – Max is the new kid at school. He develops a magical friendship with a girl in his class. Fun reading and colorfully illustrated. www.maxnmestudio.com. This is the first in a series of books that teach children about autism, gender identity issues, and diversity.


“Autism is a World,” 2004 Academy Award nominee for documentary about Sue Rubin, who is autistic. She was treated as mentally retarded until the age of 13 when she began communicating through a keyboard. A fascinating look into the mind of a non-verbal Autistic person.

How can we get this on Netflix Streamin?
How can we get this on Netflix or Hulu Streaming?

“Temple Grandin: The Movie,” emmy-award winning performance by Claire Danes about the life Temple Grandin.

“Horse Boy,” a documentary about a shamanic journey with a child and how the horses and the shamans in Mongolia healed the family.

“Autism: The Musical,” the HBO 2008 feel-good documentary which looks at a group of autistic people coming together to create a musical production. A fascinating and sensitive glimpse into the children and their parent’s lives.

“Normal People Scare Me,” a video produced by www.normalfilms.com about the difficulty of living in a world where you are not understood. Normal Films has other relevant films as well including The Sandwich Kids about growing up with an autistic sibling.

“Loving Lampposts,” an ambitious documentary about autism. This documentary produced by a parent of a young child with autism is a relevant look at all aspects and controversies of autism. Review here.

“Wretches and Jabberers,” an insightful documentary that profiles two men on the autism spectrum who go on a global quest to change people’s opinions about autism. Review here.

Practical Videos

“Be Safe, Teaching Edition,” – a practical video which gives lessons, activities, games and materials to teach teens and adults how to interact safely with the police. www.BeSafeTheMovie.com

“aut-erobics,” – Autism Movement Therapy – a unique sensory integration breakthrough program of music and dance specifically designed for young people with autism. www.autismmovement.com

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