Top Autism Books

Work in progress even if I wasn’t just a few weeks in to this re-education. Below are some of the most useful books I’ve read an autism, according to me. I certainly don’t have the attention span to go through all the possible books so JMO.

I hope to continue adding to this list as I read more on the subject. One of the biggest problems so far is simply the language used in a lot of these books. Euphemism doesn’t even begin to cover it. How does one really begin to capture the fundamental problem with many, many of these books: are therapy and other treatments good for the children and adults with autism or good for the caregiver? I do ask myself that quite a bit. Behavioral theory has been around a long, long time. Most of us have heard of postive and negative reinforcement. Parents have surely used it for all time. It is also quite handy for training animals.

So great, ABA is fine. Well, I think. I haven’t been to a session with my son yet so maybe it will turn out to be some awful bastardization of behavioral theory.

I recently saw that music therapy is not effective. And I certainly understand that many APs have enough therapy appointments without going to ones that don’t show any benefit. But as a non-NT and as a mother of a child with autism, it bothered me. The connection between autism and music is documented. And my son loves music almost as much as food and chucking a ball that we have to chase and bring back to him. (“Who’s the animal now?” -Our cat) Maybe there’s no reason to call it therapy but it’s one of those things that some/many people with autism love. What’s the point of learning all sorts of self care skills just to be “normal.” It’s hard to think of these kids being taught to fit in just for the sake of fitting in…

I may be singing a different tune in a year, I know. Surely ABA will help my son demand we sing from across the room, or ask for us to blast the Mozart while we are driving, or even ask to take piano lessons. But many books about autism gloss over that half the point of ABA seems to be to make these kids “normal” and eventually productive members of society. And I don’t mean to bash APs, it has already been difficult and we are just getting started. But the more I read about how autism was treated even just a half century ago in the US, the more I feel this ache for all the people with autism in years past. They were locked up and tortured and/or killed while essentially incarcerated for their entire life. (And yes, the criminal justice system in America is broken and I find that quite upsetting as well.) As Aspberger himself said, people with autism have many gifts not in spite of but because they have autism.

Name Why
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman This book goes deep on many important aspects of autism, reviewing the history of people with autism and how they have been screwed since the dawn of time. One of the most heartbreaking sections is the Holocaust and the discussion of how even before the Nazis came to power, babies and children were killed “for their own good.” You hear all about mothers who know their children are bright but trapped and how they’ve been ignored and called refrigerator mothers for thousands of years. Less heartbreaking is the discussion of why the incidence seems to be going up (criteria was too strict back in the day) and that back in the 1930’s people thought it was all this new technology.

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