I wanted to learn about other children like my son. I wanted to see a glimpse of the future in one of their stories. I tried half a dozen books and was unable to finish any of them. Either they described children years older than my then-18-month-old son, or were filled with content that made me furious at the parents (who were the authors) and sick with grief for their children. I tried There’s a Boy in Here, in which the mother recounts spanking her toddler son over and over, harder and harder, because she couldn’t get a reaction from him. I tried Carly’s Voice, in which the parents openly treat their daughter as less-than, refusing to believe in her no matter what. I tried to get through that one, but when Carly’s parents remove her from their home and place her in an institution where she is subsequently sexually abused I just couldn’t anymore.
I didn’t understand these books, these parents. I didn’t understand all the 5-star amazon reviews full of people sympathizing with these apparently long suffering parents. There was a rhetoric of broken, lost, or missing children surrounding the Autism literature I encountered. I didn’t feel that way about my son. I would look into his beautiful face, his unfocused, far-away gaze that seemed at once unfathomably wise and tenderly innocent, and to me he was nothing less than absolutely perfect.
It was entirely by chance that I stumbled upon an Autism documentary called Loving Lampposts. This film changed everything. At last I found voices that echoed my thoughts- individuals who did not believe their children were lost or broken. As I watched the film I googled the names of individuals interviewed whose comments resonated with me. In this way I discovered what I had been looking for- books, articles, and stories from a place of love and acceptance. I read Loud Hands, a book written by Autistic adults from all across the spectrum. I read Not Even Wrong and Unstrange Minds, written by two of the individuals interviewed in Loving Lampposts. I read Stanley Greenspan’s Engaging Autism, and I discovered the Autism Discussion Page. I read Ido in Autismland, I found blogs like Diary of a Mom and Emma’s Hope Book. And of course, I read several of Temple Grandin’s books, which led me to Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay’s poetry and then his book, How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?.
I can’t express how valuable it was to find these books. I was given incredible insight into how my son’s mind works and what might be good ways to support him. I didn’t agree with every single thing I read, but I appreciated each perspective, and they all helped me find my own place in the confusing and often hostile intersection of Autism and parenting. And when I say hostile, I am referring to the “Autism wars” you may find yourself inadvertently sucked into when you have an internet connection and an opinion on anything Autism.
So if you’re out there, a confused, worried, hopeful mom or dad with a newly diagnosed Autistic kiddo, here’s MY reading list- web links and all- happy reading!
Oh, and before you start reading, check out Loving Lampposts: http://amzn.com/B004UEQABK
Note: these are not in any particular order, so browse and choose any reading order that appeals to you.
Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking by Julia Bascom et al http://amzn.com/1938800028
The Autism Discussion Page by Bill Nason:
ADP Facebook page-
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman http://amzn.com/B00L9AY254
Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins http://amzn.com/B002STNBYS
Unstrange Minds by Roy Richard Grinker http://amzn.com/B0097DHTIM
How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move? by Tito Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay http://amzn.com/B00CKXAAKK
Ido In Autismland by Ido Kedar http://amzn.com/B00AOUN01W
The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin http://amzn.com/B009JWCR56
Diary of a Mom blog: http://adiaryofamom.com
Emma’s Hope Book blog: http://emmashopebook.com
Respectfully Connected blog: http://www.respectfullyconnected.com