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10 Books About Autism Every School Counselor Should Read

Whether you are new to the field of school counseling, or you have been working as one for many years now, there is a lot to learn about current and future developments associated with autism. It seems there are more children being diagnosed each year and all of these students will eventually make their way through the school system.  While you may have learned about autism while you were studying to be a school counselor or have worked with children with autism at your school, there are plenty of other resources that you can supplement with throughout your career. 

Continuing your education outside of the workplace is so very important. It helps you to keep up with the educational research, strategies, and gain knowledge of best practices. It is crucial to your success as an employee and in turn also helps the children and staff you work with in your building. The benefits school counselors, teachers, and other staff reap from reading articles and books on education topics will also be seen within your school.  

Let’s take a look at ten books about the topic of autism that every school counselor should add to their list. 

  1. A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive
  2. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism
  3. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
  4. Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism
  5. Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism
  6. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
  7. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism
  8. Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom
  9. The New Social Story Book
  10. No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Dealing with an Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior 

10 Books to Help the School Counselor Understand Autism

A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive

Authors: Sally Ozonoff, PhD, Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and James C. McPartland, PhD

The autism spectrum can vary quite a bit. While one child falls on one end of the spectrum because of their inability to function normally in a variety of settings, there are also children that are considered to be ‘high functioning.’ These children meet a number of the requirements for being autistic, but they can function and adapt quite well in many instances. This guide for parents can be beneficial for counselors as well as it talks about the assistance needed for high functioning autistic children, and schools support students with all levels of ASD. 

“Vivid stories and real-world examples illustrate ways to help kids with ASD relate more comfortably to peers, learn the rules of appropriate behavior, and succeed in school. You’ll learn how ASD is diagnosed and what treatments and educational supports really work. Updated with the latest research and resources, the second edition clearly explains the implications of the DSM-5 diagnostic changes,” (Amazon). 

A Positive Review: 

So helpful! I can’t believe how many of my questions get answered on each page. This book is very hopeful and inspiring, reminding parents and kids to remember their strengths and enlist them in addressing challenges. I’m glad I have it to refer to over and over.

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

Author: Barry Prizant

If you’re looking for a book about autism by an author with authority, this is the one. Barry M. Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP, is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities and as an innovator of respectful, person- and family-centered approaches for individuals with autism and neurodevelopmental conditions. Dr. Prizant has 50 years experience as a scholar, researcher, and international consultant and is an adjunct professor at Brown University. Uniquely Human focuses on the unique behaviors individuals with autism have instead of looking at them like negative characteristics or “symptoms.” He treats the child with autism as a whole person and embraces the behaviors they exhibit rather than trying to fix something about that child. Not only does this book have its very own Podcast, it was ranked number one in Book Authority’s “100 Best Autism Books of All Time.” 

A Positive Review

Reading Barry Prizant’s “Uniquely Human” was like stepping onto a sunlit balcony overlooking the ocean and breathing in an abundance of fresh, invigorating air. He gets it! Barry is one of the few neurotypicals who truly understands the autistic mind. Many, many times, as I read the book, I found myself saying “Yes!, Yes!” to his insight and his approach. Barry does not see “autistic behaviours” as aberrant, something to correct. Instead, he sees all behaviour as human behaviour. Instead of trying to fix us and our behaviours, Barry asks a very simple question: Why? 

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

Author: Ellen Notbohm

When you were younger, did you ever wish adults knew more about you in order for them to understand you better? If they knew, their interactions with you may have been different. This is what many children with autism hope: more empathy, compassion, and understanding. 

This is a unique book because it was written by an author who takes on the perspective of the child who has autism. Ideally, to properly treat and assist a student with autism, you need to know what they are going through. This book will give you a unique perspective on autism and you may find that you are more compassionate to those with disabilities. Ellen is “a celebrated autism author, and a contributor to numerous publications, classrooms, conferences, and websites around the world coalesce to create a guide for all who come in contact with a child on the autism spectrum.”

And you get more than a read; at the end there is a bonus section that “includes ten more essential, thought-provoking “things” to share with young people on the spectrum as they cross the threshold of adulthood, and an appendix of more than seventy questions suitable for group discussion or self-reflection,” (Amazon).  

A Positive Review: 

This book is the best book I have ever read about Autism. I read so many books about Autism since I am a psychology major and I’m getting my Masters Degree in Children Development Psychology/Education Leadership. Since I am going for School Psychology, this book is amazing and very helpful. Once you start reading it, you can’t put it down! I recommend this book for anyone.

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism

Author: Temple Grandin, PhD

She could potentially be the most well-known person with autism. Temple Grandin, an American scientist and activist, began working as an advocate for the humane treatment of livestock and later merged into becoming one for other individuals with autism. Temple wrote Thinking in Pictures, which explains autism from her own personal perspective. She, as an advocate, has made great strides with communicating to people what it is like living with autism and the challenges someone with this condition faces. 

This is a book that as a counselor, can give you insight into how these students are challenged each day and also a glimpse at who they might become in the future. 

A Positive Review: 

Temple Grandin’s world is simply fascinating. She might find interacting with the world like learning a foreign language but there is something about her that is just so human, a wonderful human being who cares so very much for the animals she cares for.

Her invention of a machine to calm herself, to give herself a steady pressure around her body she found applied in a similar way to the cattle she designed restraints for. Temple’s ability to manipulate videos in her mind was another interesting insight into her world. Anyone who has any contact with an autistic person should read this book by someone who’s spent a lifetime learning about herself.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism

Author: Chantal Sicile-Kira

This is a fully comprehensive guide on the process of diagnosing autism, treating autism, coping with autism, supporting those with autism, and working with adults who have ASD. Everything you need to know as a professional dealing with autistic students can be found in this book.

A Positive Review: 

Great for anyone wanting to know about autism. First book I read, very informative with lots of additional resources on all topics. A great guide for parents, teachers and anyone involved with your child who wants to understand how an autistic mind thinks.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Author: Steve Silberman

Once you have read some of these other books that detail what autism is really all about, you can delve deeper into your research with this book. The concept of this book explains that autism might not actually be a disorder in essence. Rather, it is just a variation in our population. A very interesting and insightful read.

“A groundbreaking book that upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently,” (Amazon). 

A Positive Review: 

The story of people with disabilities is dominated by the issue of the ‘dis’ in ‘disability’. Whether the approach is medical, educational or social the focus is on the deficits in a person’s condition. This book tells the story of autism from a different perspective leaving the reader to wonder how we could have got it so wrong for so long. It tells of earnest egos storming down side streets getting nowhere, of experimenters inflicting horrible ‘treatments’ behind the smokescreen of ‘science’. But it also tells how the greatest strides and the most worthwhile contribution came from autistic people (their preferred term) themselves. Would that someone could write a similar story for people with Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy. This really is a first class book at many levels.

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism

Author: Naoki Higashida

The best way for a school counselor or teacher to fully understand their students is to get inside the mind of one; and since that is not possible, this book is the next best thing. The Reason I Jump is written like a memoir and is read through the mind of a young boy who has autism. As the reader, you are able to get close and intimate with the daily events, thoughts, and behaviors and gain a better understanding of what it is like to live with autism as a child. “You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. 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,” (Amazon). 

Positive Review:

I work with Autistic students and have read many books about Autism. This was an eye-opener for me. I have promoted the book amongst my colleagues… it is unlike any other book that I have read. I Highly recommend it.

Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom

Author: Beth Aune

Behavior SolutionsThis book is “a handy reference guide that explains behaviors associated with autism, asperger’s, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and other special needs.” Even though school counselors are not teaching a classroom full of students each and every day, they still often conduct large and small groups, observe students in the classroom setting, and are called upon to assist with certain student needs. Every educator needs to be knowledgeable and up-to-date on behavior solutions for various populations of students. “Written by Director of Special Education Peter Gennaro, occupational therapist Beth Aune, and special needs mom and advocate Beth Burt, this book illuminates possible causes of those mysterious behaviors, and more importantly, provides solutions! Teachers can quickly look up an in-the-moment solution and learn about what the child is communicating, and why,” (Amazon).

Positive Review:

Love this book. A must have for any parent looking to help out a school teacher. I purchased this with the intention to leave it with the school for ALL teachers who are teaching my ASD son to read and re-read. It clearly details smart ideas on a melt-down versus treatment and I think it is a great starter for someone who has no idea what to do (which is most teachers, as they are not trained specifically in ASD, ADHD, etc.

The New Social Story Book

Author: Carol Gray

School counselors deal with a lot of unique situations such as helping a child stay more organized, work on social skills, deal with loss and grief, handle a bully, navigate a new school or a new class, learn about safety, etc. Children who have typical adaptability skills and who are on-grade level academically and developmentally are able to get through these day-to-day events and challenges with ease. Those with autism have a more difficult time adapting to changes throughout their day. “Additions [ in The New Social Story Book] include how to most effectively use and apply the stories, how to improve the lives of younger children, and Social Stories for teens and adults with autism. Developed through years of experience, these strategically written stories explain social situations in ways children and adults with autism understand while teaching social skills needed to be successful at home, school, work, and in the community,” (Amazon). 

Positive Review: 

I can’t wait to use this with my patients who have a Social communication Disorder! It will be helpful for all ages, especially middle and high school.

No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Dealing with and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior

Author: Jed Baker

While most of the behavioral issues are going to be dealt with in the classroom by the special education teachers and paraprofessionals, school counselors at times need to help handle behavioral situations that arise. It is also quite likely that while doing small groups and one-on-one activities with students with autism, school counselors will encounter a child who has a meltdown. Being trained on and knowledgeable on how to be proactive and prevent meltdowns in children who are more likely to have one, as well as to use effective strategies to manage meltdowns is important for anyone who works in a school setting. “Dr. Baker offers an easy-to-follow, four-step model that will improve your everyday relationships with the children in your life, including managing your own emotions by adjusting your expectations, learning strategies to calm a meltdown in the moment, understanding why a meltdown occurs, and creating plans to prevent future meltdowns,” (Amazon). 

Positive Review:

Terrific book. Helps break down the reasons why kids have meltdowns, identifying triggers and offers preventative approaches. Also a very quick and easy read. It gets straight to the strategies vs so many books that give chapters and chapters of background and research.

CONCLUSION

School counselors, if you are unwilling to continue your education and go the extra mile to learn about the population of students in your school, you are doing your students a disservice. If you work in a school setting in any sort of capacity and interact with students that have autism (to any degree), it will benefit you and your career to do a little bit of extra reading. By doing so, you will be doing your part in helping provide students with autism the help that they need to be successful.

ABA Programs Guide Staf
Updated February 2021

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