The following is a list of books that have been most beneficial to me over the years, as I’ve tried to figure out Lauren while coping with autism’s many repercussions. I may have forgotten one or two that I read early on. I’ve certainly not included every good read here, because I haven’t read everything out there. But hopefully this will give you a good broad-based start in your search for more information and support.
1. Donnellan, Anne M. and Martha O’Leary
Movement Differences and Diversity in Autism/Mental Retardation
Donnellan and O’Leary gave a two-day workshop I attended. Even if you’ve seen either of them in person, buy this book. It helped me realize the extent to which movement differences are part of Lauren’s many “behaviors.”
2. Gerlach, Elizabeth
Autism Treatment Guide
Keep this little guide on hand to explain any therapies you may hear about for autism. It’s a basic, but comprehensive, guide to all the treatment options available. Gerlach stays fairly neutral while presenting the merits and drawbacks to each approach. The book has come out in an updated edition at least once, and I hope it continues to be updated on a regular basis.
3. Grandin, Temple
Emergence, Labeled Autistic
Though I didn’t finally buy this book until later, I read many journal articles by Temple Grandin within the first weeks of Lauren’s diagnosis. She’s a woman with autism who has a Ph.D. and is foremost in her (unique) field of work. She opened my eyes to all the sensory issues Lauren was facing, which helped me to make major decisions about Lauren’s education. Temple may be at the opposite end of the autism spectrum from my daughter, but she taught me much that is applicable to Lauren. This is her original autobiography, which includes her childhood, and has been republished. Thinking in Pictures is her more recent biographical work.
4. Hart, Charles
A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Answers to the Most Common Questions
This was the first book Craig and I read and it answered all our basic questions. The writer understands well the huge joy a person with autism can be. (I’ve heard him speak.) He grew up with a brother with autism and has a grown son with autism.
5. Lovett, Herb
Learning to Listen: Positive Approaches and People with Difficult Behavior
This book was a wonderful quick vacation read for me. Herb Lovett’s life was dedicated to helping others see what is so hard to see in people with difficult behavior—that they’re people first, with the same needs and desires as all other people. It sounds obvious in the saying, but trust me that it’s rare in the practice. A few years ago, I attended a day-long event with Lovett and Donna Williams, where I bought this book. At a later engagement, he and I spoke. I had written a review of this book for our local ASA newsletter. He asked for a copy and I brought him one before the end of the conference. Herb Lovett died in an automobile accident within a few months of that conversation. I’m glad I took the time to get him the copy of my article, which of course was very positive. As my personal means to honor this man’s life, I continue to enthusiastically recommend his work.
6. Park, Clara Claiborne
The Siege: The First Eight Years of an Autistic Child (With an Epilogue, Fifteen Years After)
I’ve read a few biographies by parents of children with autism. Some require a bit of patience getting past the self-indulgent writing style. Park’s writing style is beautiful. What I love most is her description of her daughter. I’ve relieved myself of the responsibility of putting into words the perfection and intelligence of my daughter so subtly evident over the years. Park has done it for me.
7. Shaw, William
Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD
I didn’t have this book when beginning medical and diet interventions for Lauren’s autism. I purchased it recently to try to further my understanding and to help Craig and me decide on our next step. I recommend starting with the section at the end called “Frequently Asked Questions about Dietary Intervention for the Treatment of Autism and other Developmental Disabilities” by Karyn Seroussi. These are the same (or similar) questions and answers I referred to in my “Alternative Medicine” chapter. This section offers a terrific overview, then the index can lead you to more specific explanations and supporting research on the topic you choose. (This is my advice for reading a medical book. I’m a writer, not a scientist, no matter how many years of practice I get with Lauren!)
8. Tada, Joni Eareckson & Steven Estes
When God Weeps: Why Our Suffering Matters to the Almighty
My experience includes days (or months) of depression associated with the day-to-day struggles that come with autism. I imagine such days are inevitable for anyone in similar circumstances. This book is the best answer I have for you when you’re too angry to speak to God or are looking for any “good” reason that this could have happened to your child and your life. Joni Eareckson Tada has been a quadriplegic for many years as the result of an accident, so I trust she knows wherefrom she speaks.
9. Williams, Donna
Donna Williams is an adult with autism who was diagnosed at around twenty years old. Though I think she was higher functioning than Lauren as a child, her experiences sound in many ways more like Lauren’s than Temple Grandin’s. (I heard Temple speak at a dinner once. She places Donna and herself at opposite ends of a chart of the autism spectrum.) This book is tough because Donna was an abused child of poor and stupid parents and she doesn’t pull any punches. (She probably can’t. At the least, people with autism are honest.) Donna followed this book up with a continuing biography called Somebody Somewhere, but I found the first one a little more valuable, perhaps because Donna was young in the first book. Donna Williams has written more books since these two. I have Autism: An Inside-Out Approach. I find this to be an intense read, so I’ve used it as a reference tool, answering questions about Lauren’s behavior by referring to the index and flipping to Donna’s experience in whatever arena we’re in that day.
Where a husband and wife blog to: continue the story told in a book called Dancing in Cornmeal: Life with Autism; enhance the conversation about autism; relieve a writer's need to write; inspire (when the stuff here is really good); network; and share - especially recipes that follow the SCD and Paleo diets. See "Welcome" under TOPICS for a better description, then just keep reading along...