Highly Rated Books about ASD

We have combined some of the lists across the web of highly rated books to make it easier to choose.

1. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Amazon price: $16.20 (R485 with shipping)

This book is consistently one of the top three books in most of the lists.

Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.


2. Uniquely Human (A Different Way of Seeing Autism) by Barry M. Prizant

Amazon price: $11.39 (R405 with shipping)

Also consistently in every list of top books on ASD, this is the best selling book on the subject on Amazon.

Autism therapy typically focuses on ridding individuals of “autistic” symptoms such as difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Now Dr. Barry M. Prizant offers a new and compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.“

A must-read for anyone touched by autism... Dr. Prizant’s Uniquely Human is a crucial step in promoting better understanding and a more humane approach” (Associated Press). Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, Dr. Prizant sees them as part of a range of strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life.

“A remarkable approach to autism....A truly impactful, necessary book” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Uniquely Human offers inspiration and practical advice drawn from Dr. Prizant’s four-decade career. It conveys a deep respect for people with autism and their own unique qualities. Filled with humanity and wisdom, Uniquely Human “should reassure parents and caregivers of kids with autism and any other disability that their kids are not broken, but, indeed, special” (Booklist, starred review).


3. Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin

Amazon price: $10.99 (R403 with shipping)

Even though she has written multiple best-selling books, we chose Thinking in Pictures to be part of our list. Temple Grandin writes as both a scientist and an autistic person. In Thinking in Pictures, she introduces her own model of analysis based on thought patterns, comparing her mind with the minds of others who, as she puts it, “think in words.” In addition to giving her first-hand account of this process, and her life in general, she addresses developments in the study of autism, genetic research, and diagnostic criteria.

This book covers Dr. Temple Grandin’s way of experiencing the world intermingled with snippets of information from her life and of autism in general. Unsurprisingly, given the title of the book, there is a big focus on her visual way of thinking and how this manifests.

Grandin is quite straightforward and honest in stating that she used to think all autistic people must think in pictures like her, and how it is only relatively recently that she has learnt that other autistic people can have different ways of thinking. The first section of the book focuses on how she thinks, and how this has affected her life both positively and negatively.

The next section moves on to talking at length about sensory processing and some of the difficulties she has experienced with areas like understanding tone or theory of mind whilst relating them to herself, other people, and general anecdotes. She continues to the subjects of  empathy and experiencing emotions, presenting it in a similar way and embedding the information with snippets about real people helping to make the information much more accessible.


4. The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood

Amazon price; $23.73 (R683 with shipping)

Tony Attwood is probably the world's leading expert on Asperger's and has provided the definitive handbook and guide for anyone affected by Asperger’s syndrome. Drawing on research, case studies, and personal accounts, this book is simultaneously authoritative and accessible. It examines topics like potential indications of the syndrome, diagnosis, language development, social interaction, bullying, and ongoing mental health. It also delves into sensory sensitivities, coordination skills, and career development.

There is also an invaluable frequently asked questions chapter and a section listing useful resources for anyone wishing to find further information on a particular aspect of AS, as well as literature and educational tools. 

Essential reading for families and individuals affected by AS as well as teachers, professionals and employers coming in contact with people with AS, this book should be on the bookshelf of anyone who needs to know or is interested in this complex condition.

5. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

Amazon price: $15.99 (R515 with shipping)

This book explores in fascinating, near-encyclopedic depth how autism has evolved. It’s a gripping narrative written with journalistic verve. It combines portraits of autistic individuals with a forensic exploration of the disorder’s history and also delineates the current political and cultural battles that divide professionals and parents, self-advocates and charities.

Silberman, an American journalist, came to the subject from an unusual perspective. Most books on autism are written by practitioners, parents or people on the spectrum themselves. Silberman is none of these – he specialises in writing about technology and the digital industry for Wired magazine and the New Yorker. It was only after interviewing several Silicon Valley innovators and finding that they had autistic children that his curiosity was piqued. The resulting article, The Geek Syndrome (Wired, 2001), posited the theory that Silicon Valley had become a hot spot for autism diagnoses because nerdy programmers and engineers met there and had children while carrying a “genetic predisposition” for the disorder.

It’s long been a puzzle that two seemingly unconnected pediatricians of Austrian origin, one based in Baltimore (Leo Kanner) and the other in Vienna (Hans Asperger), simultaneously observed the unusual behaviour of children brought to them by worried parents and coined an identical label to describe them – autistic – in 1943. Silberman uses his investigative skills to find the buried connections between the two doctors, the overlaps in mentors and colleagues, as well as revealing their profound differences in approach.

Though the process he casts light on the growing movement of "neurodiversity" activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, accommodations in the workplace and in education, and the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences.


6. A Parent's Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, James C. McPartland

Amazon price: $19.20 (R385 with shipping)

Packed with real-life stories and everyday problem-solving ideas, this book has given many tens of thousands of parents the facts they need about high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including Asperger syndrome. The authors are leading experts who describe ways to work with these kids' unique impairments and capabilities so they can grow into happy, self-sufficient adults.

Parents learn practical strategies for helping their son or daughter relate more comfortably to peers, learn the rules of appropriate behavior, and succeed in school. The book also discusses what scientists currently know about ASD and how it is diagnosed, as well as what treatments and educational supports have been shown to work. Updated with the latest research, resources, and clinical strategies, the second edition clearly explains the changes in diagnostic criteria over the past couple of years. 


7. The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Amazon price: $19.94 (R575 with shipping)

Being a teen or tween isn't easy for anyone but it can be especially tough for Asperkids. Jennifer O'Toole knows; she was one! This book is a top secret guide to all of the hidden social rules in life that often seem strange and confusing to young people with Asperger syndrome.

The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules offers witty and wise insights into baffling social codes such as making and keeping friends, blending in versus standing out from the crowd, and common conversation pitfalls. Chock full of illustrations, logical explanations, and comic strip practice sessions, this is the handbook that every adult Aspie wishes they'd had growing up.

Ideal for all 10-17 year olds with Asperger syndrome, this book provides inside information on over thirty social rules in bite-sized chunks that older children will enjoy, understand, and most importantly use daily to navigate the mysterious world around them.


8. Connecting With The Autism Spectrum: How To Talk, How To Listen, And Why You Shouldn’t Call It High-Functioning by Casey "Remrov" Vormer

Amazon price: $13.49 (R445 with shipping)

The complete guide to connecting with adults on the autism spectrum. For a friend, family member, or co-worker with high functioning autism, communication can be challenging. But Connecting with the Autism Spectrum can help you find common ground with expert tips and helpful insights about talking (and listening) to neurodiverse adults so you can make your interactions more transparent, meaningful, and rewarding for all.

Written by Casey Vormer, a self-taught artist and high functioning autism advocate, this comprehensive guide is a trusted source to understanding neurodiversity, a brief introduction to the autism spectrum, and easy communication strategies like active listening and positive encouragement as well as steps to avoid misunderstandings by teaching how to recognize biases and correct them.

This standout selection on working alongside others with high functioning autism delivers:

A simple approach—Discover the best ways to communicate with those living with high functioning autism.
Situational success—Find the right information for various situations and settings, including school, work, and social relationships.
Sensitive tone—Get valuable information from a clear, honest point-of-view that does not seek to “cure” or manipulate people with high functioning autism.
Learn how to communicate better with those diagnosed with high functioning autism in this simple book.


9. Navigating Autism: 9 Mindsets For Helping Kids on the Spectrum by Temple Grandin, Debra Moore

Amazon price: $14.95 (R510 with shipping)

Empowering strategies for anyone who works with children and teens on the spectrum.  International best-selling writer and autist Temple Grandin joins psychologist Debra Moore in presenting nine strengths-based mindsets necessary to successfully work with young people on the autism spectrum. Examples and stories bring the approaches to life, and detailed suggestions and checklists help readers put them to practical use.

Temple Grandin shares her own personal experiences and anecdotes from parents and professionals who have sought her advice, while Debra Moore draws on more than three decades of work as a psychologist with kids on the spectrum and those who love and care for them. So many people support the lives of these kids, and this book is for all of them: teachers; special education staff; mental health clinicians; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; parents; and anyone interacting with autistic children or teens. Readers will come away with new, empowering mindsets they can apply to develop the full potential of every child.


10. All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer

Amazon price: $14.38 (R475 with shipping)

In this children’s book by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer, Zane the zebra has autism, and he worries that his differences make him stand out in a bad way. Through his mother, he learns about the many things that make him and the other kids special, including but not nearly limited to his autism. Ultimately, it’s a book to teach children to embrace who they are but love others for their differences.


I'm going to stop there for now. If there are any books that you found valuable, let us know. Other books that are highly rated are:

Population One: Autism, Adversity, and the Will to Succeed by Tyler McNamer

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism Paperback by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum by Jennifer Cook O'Toole

Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome?: A Guide for Friends and Family by Jude Welton

Positive Parenting for Autism: Powerful Strategies to Help Your Child Overcome Challenges and Thrive by Victoria Boone

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

We're Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation by Eric Garcia


Here are some more lists:









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