Favorite Books

Books on Autism

The Autism Answer Book: More Than 300 of the Top Questions Parents Ask
by William Stillman
   - One of the first books I picked up at the book store before we even had testing done. I just needed answers, and I suspected this book might have some. I also knew, somewhere in the back of my head, that at the very least, my oldest fell on the spectrum, and my youngest would have some similarities. Parents know when something is up. I found this book immensley helpful, but also heartbreaking at times. The questions it answered also led to more questions to ask, and more unknowns, but I found I would rather know, even if I didn't like the answer, than not know.

Playing, Laughing and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Carers
by Julia Moor
   - Through all the research I was doing in the beginning, I found very little about how to play with my toddler. He didn't play like most kids his age, and I didn't know what to do with him. I felt just awful putting movies on all the time, although he never sat still to watch them for more than five minutes at a time. Finding this book gave me a little hope, and a few ideas, but many of them are patterned after the ABA method (Applied Behavior Analysis), which is not age appropriate for toddlers, nor developmentally appropriate for my son yet. But it led me to other resources through the bibliography and resource listings, and it has great ideas for toys and games that can be adapted.

Engaging Autism: Using the Floortime Approach to Help Children Relate, Communicare, and Think
by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.D
   - This book explains fully, though very scientifically, the Floortime method promoted by Dr. Greenspan, which I highly support and recommend. Floortime is a structured play and communication environment that a parent or caregiver, or teacher, creates with the child on his level. I'll have some links to a better explanation on my Websites page later. The Early Intervention program we work with uses this method with all the children, and it is much better and age appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers who are not on track developmentally. The more I read about Floortime, the more I am on board. Dr. Greenspan was a genius, and the field of Child Psychology will greatly miss his further contributions.

Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A Mother's Story of Research and Recovery
by Karyn Seroussi
   - This book was my first foray into biomedical research. I had only heard a few terms used in these books, and never with full explanation. This book opened my eyes to new possibilities of healing and recovery, and led me into research mode full tilt. Seroussi does a wonderful job weaving the personal nature of her journey with her son with some very heavy medical research and terminology. She also had great resources I could cross-reference with. This is truly a work of dedication and hope, which is not only visible in her writing, but somehow transfers to the reader, along with the sense of urgency in finding new treatments for Autism.

Special-Needs Kids Eat Right: Strategies to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Focus, Learn, and Thrive
by Judy Converse, MPH, RD, LD
   - This book focuses on the nutritional puzzle piece, which the writer specializes in, being a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Converse does a superb job at laying the foundations of nutrition principles before diving into what can and often does go wrong in children with Autism, and how to start fixing it. The organization is very step-by-step and easy to follow. I found it especially helpful in figuring out what deficiencies to get Liam tested for, and how to ask his pediatrician for a referral. Converse also goes into great detail on various diets, supplements, specific lab tests, and even drawbacks and pitfalls to each method. I felt confident that she covered both sides of the argument wherever it was needed.

Changing the Course of Autism: A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians
by Bryan Jepson, M.D. with Jane Johnson
   - In coming to terms with both of my children having some form of Autism, I sort of left my husband behind, at least as far as knowledge and research goes. This book has helped me begin to educate him in the basics that I have a firm belief in. Jepson starts at the beginning, talking about the role of genetics, environment, and the nature of the disease as a whole-body issue. He goes on to talk about typical development of key systems and how they malfunction with Autism, discussing the various causes and effects. I am still in the middle of this educational work, both in learning and teaching mode. Jepson does continue in the second half of the book with an examination of treatment methods, laid out by body systems. His organization is streamlined to make it easy for even the inexperienced researcher to go from basic anatomy to more advanced terminology. It is heavy on the medical speak, so be prepared to reread frequently. I feel smarter for every chapter I read though, and knowledge is power. This is one powerhouse of a book.

Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism 2010-2011
by Ken Siri and Tony Lyons
   - This massive anthology contains 69 articles on different therapies and treatments for Autism and/or co-occurring symptoms (like sensory issues, social skills, etc.). There is a new version out for 2011-2012 that I have yet to browse through. However, the fact that a book like this exists is wonderful. It covers so many areas I hadn't even thought of, and all the articles are written by trusted professionals in various medical and therapy fields. Some are true trailblazers, creating new treatments as we speak, while others graciously continue tried and true methods. I found this book really helpful, and took notes on a handful I want to look into further, such as antifungal treatments, the DIR model, and melatonin therapy. When I have more time I will check out the latest version, as it will contain a whole new set of articles.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
by Ellen Notbohm
   - One of the best books I have read on Autism. While it was touted for the child's perspective used by the author (at least in the beginning) I thought the best part of this book was how clearly Notbohm explained many of the perplexing issues that are part of, or come with, an Autism diagnosis. While there may be many more than ten things in some cases, the ten discussed in these pages are very important to understanding Autism as a whole, and children on different parts of the spectrum. Each issue is explained in depth, but at a level anyone can grasp, even someone who does not know anyone with Autism. My only regret is that I borrowed it from the library, so I can't keep it until I buy my own copy. Soon!

1001 Tips For The Parents of Autistic Boys: Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Doctors, Schools, Taxes, Vacations, Babysitters, Treatment, Food, and More
by Ken Siri

Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Child's Life
by Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D., and Claire LaZebnik

Books for Sensory Processing Disorder

The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder

by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., with preface by Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR
   - This book is THE Go-To resource for understanding Sensory Processing Disorder. It is the best reading I have found for making such a scientifically complex  disorder (because the nervous system is complex) understandable for someone not scientifically inclined (being me). It makes sense on a parenting level and covers all the aspects. If your child has any issues with sensory stuff, you need to read this book.

The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., with foreword by Trude Turnquist, Ph.D., OTR/L
   - Likewise, if you find yourself dealing with sensory issues, you need to find stuff to do with your little ball of nerves, be they seekers, avoiders, or whatever. This is actually the first book I got from the library, and realized I needed both in my own library, so I bought them. Great stuff in here, and a lot of it can be done with out buying any materials, or using stuff around the house.

Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with SensoryIntegration Issues
by Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L, Nancy Peske

Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder
by Lucy Jane Miller, Ph. D., OTR, Doris A. Fuller

Books on Aspergers

Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Asperger's
by John Elder Robison
   - A unique and, I thought, riveting memoir by the man behind KISS's famous flaming guitars, among other accomplishments. He survived 40+ years without a diagnosis, figuring his own way around, and through, social rules and all the issues those with Aspergers struggle with. I found it quite insightful to understanding Aspergers from an insider's perspective.

Parenting a child with Asperger syndrome: 200 Tips and Strategies
by Brenda Boyd
   - I bought this book before testing as well, and I actually need to go through it more fully. There are a lot of helpful strategies here in different categories, like changing your perception of how the child thinks about people or situations, being aware of what might overstimulate him, making adjustments for long car rides or social events, etc. There are also samples of suggested reward systems in the appendices.

Freaks, Geeks & Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence
by Luke Jackson, Foreword by Tony Attwood

School Success For Kids With Asperger's Syndrome
by Stephan M. Silverman, Ph.D., and Rich Weinfeld

The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome
by Tony Attwood

Other Helpful Books

Don't Shoot The Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training
by Karen Pryor
   - This book was recommended to me by one of my son's former therapists. I have yet to read it all the way through, but I'll get there. It basically talks about positive reinforcement, a la B.F. Skinner, and it's successful use in behavior modification for not only pets (think clicker training) but also neighbors, kids, even yourself. I really need to get through this one, maybe it will even work for getting my husband to put his socks in the hamper!

Just Take A Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges!
by Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D. and Tania Stegen-Hanson, OTR/L
Foreword by Dr. Temple Grandin
   - This book came recommended by Liam's Early Intervention occupational therapist, who used it in her training. I am still at the beginning of this book, but I hope to continue reading very soon. So far, I have learned quite a few things about the process of eating (way more complicated than you can imagine), myths that our parents taught us, and some of the causes for eating difficulties. Given Liam's current eating habits, I really need to make some headway on this one, and get his current OT in the loop and working on feeding more vigorously.

The RDI Book: Forging New Pathways for Autism, Asperger's and PDD with the Relationship Development Intervention© Program
by Steven E. Gutstein, Ph.D.
   - I have not read this book yet, but here's the excerpt from the back cover:
"The RDI Book chronicles the integration of cutting-edge theory and powerful clinical tools resulting in a program that has provided new hope to thousands of families with an ASD child.
"Dr. Gutstein describes the process in which parents are empowered and carefully trained by skilled professional consultants, to guide the cognitive, social and emotional development of their children. Through the framework of a unique dynamic intelligence curriculum, children become motivated to seek out new challenges and overcome their fear of change.
"Based on over ten years of research, Dr. Gutstein honors the delicate choreography critical for children of all ages to grow into independent, emotionally connected, responsible adults. The RDI Book is a landmark publication demonstrating how every family can apply their inherent wisdom and courage to attain success."

Special Diets for Special Kids, Volumes 1 and 2 Combined
by Lisa Lewis
   - This is yet another book I am dying to buy after borrowing it and reading it cover to cover. This is not by any means just a cookbook. The information in the first three chapters alone could be its own book. Lewis includes so much research and medical information, it's a wonder she had time to make up recipes. I was most interested in her discussion of different dietary interventions - the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, etc. I did not previously know much about any diet except Gluten-Free/Casein-Free. It was educational to say the least. Lewis also provides a very helpful breakdown of the most important vitamins and minerals the body uses, what each is for, and what foods each can be found in. I'm a bit of a wannabe-nutritionist, so this was a chapter I read several times. Finally, one last favorite part of mine is how riddled the text is with helpful tips about feeding your family a healthy diet, even if some members are on special diets; or how to simplify and keep to a budget while doing special diets. Lewis even includes helpful tips at the beginning of each section of recipes. Now I just need to buy the book with its accompanying CD full of PDF recipes (yay!) and try them out.

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
by Kathy Hoopman
   - This book is just too cute! But it's also informative. The author uses a series of pictures of cats and pairs them with statements about Asperger's, making them true for cats. I read this book with Sam in the bookstore, and his first response to many of the statements was "Hey I do that too!" and "Just like me". He likes cats and I was pleased that he got what the author was trying to show. It's a nice book to have on hand for a laugh and a simple ice breaker with someone who has no clue about your wonderful child with Asperger Syndrome.

Dietary Cookbooks

Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals
by Silvana Nardone
  - This was one of the first cookbooks I bought to help me learn the adventure of gluten and dairy-free cooking. I was so overwhelmed by all the information I found elsewhere, but Silvana made it easier. It helped that she is the former editor of the Rachel Ray Magazine, (I LOVE RR!) and that she began her own dietary interventions for the same reason: her son, albeit for allergies rather than Autism. And the pictures, oh, that's my favorite part. Everything looks so delicious, so I bought some ingredients, and started making things. Even now, as we have left the GFCF world temporarily for the last year, I fall back on certain recipes. Pumpkin Muffins and Frito Chicken Fingers still make a regular appearance in our kitchen.

BabyCakes: Vegan, (Mostly) Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York's Most Talked-About Bakery
by Erin McKenna
  - Because I loved the second book (see below), I had to look for this one as well. Delicious looking pictures you want to lick off the page, but also ingredients I couldn't always find, or afford. I would still love to own a copy of each of Erin's books, even if just for a special birthday treat once in a while, without the gluten and dairy. I think I could even share a few recipes with my mostly vegan sister and brother.

BabyCakes Covers the Classics: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes from Donuts to Snickerdoodles
by Erin McKenna
  - I borrowed this book from the library on a whim, and because I love to bake sweets. Erin's recipes look almost too sweet to eat. I didn't make as many recipes as I wanted to, because some of the ingredients can be pricey, and I don't have most on hand regularly. I do miss the vegan brownies though, and I brought vegan cupcakes to a party and didn't bring any home. I still have vegan frosting in my freezer.


by Mark Haddon
   - An interesting mystery written from the perspective of an Autistic teen. Keep in mind Haddon is from the UK, so the language is a little harsh at times (Brits don't consider the same things as cuss words that Americans do). But it was interesting, and insightful too. It helped me to see how the mind of someone with Autism might perceive the world differently, and also someone with sensory sensitivities.

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