Here you can find some of my favourite books featuring autistic characters, are written on the topic of autism or are self-help type books that have helped me and my family understand autism, or (updated for 2020) just happen to be written by autistic people. For books that feature prominent autistic characters or are about autism, I’ve noted it next to the rec. There are a number of brilliant authors writing tremendous work that isn’t specifically about being autistic, so they’re on here too.
For children’s fiction, I’ve also included some bonus recommendations by allistic authors that don’t feature autistic characters where I think the story will resonate with autistic children particularly.
Please pick these up direct from indie bookshops where possible. To make it super streamlined for you, I’ve also made a bookshop.org page with all these lists on there so you can buy them directly (though not all the books are available through there unfortunately!).
This is not an exhaustive list restrained by what I’ve personally read and I try to update it regularly. My Twitter and Instagram are good places to find out what I’m reading in general.
young adult fiction
- Notes on my Family by Emily Critchley
Lou is thirteen-and-a-half. Her school life is terrible. Her family are falling apart now that her dad has announced he’s leaving her mum for a schoolgirl. And she’s autistic, but she doesn’t know it yet… Autistic main character & own voices.
- The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews
Fifteen year old Sam is homeless, so he steals houses. It’s the only way he can keep himself and his older brother Avery safe. But when he finds himself trapped in a house filled with chaotic family he can’t leave, nor does he want to. Autistic main character & own voices.
- On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
The world is ending, quite literally. A comet is scheduled to hit the world in a few days time. The lucky ones are headed to generation ships to escape the planets, the less lucky ones to shelters under the ground. On the outskirts of Amsterdam, autistic Denise is hurrying her mother so they can get to the underground government shelter, but her sister Iris is missing. And they are running out of time. Autistic main character & own voices.
- State of Grace by Rachael Lucas
Grace is a fifteen year old girl living in the North-West of England who lives with her younger sister Leah, her mother and – sometimes – her wildlife filmmaker father. But when her father goes off on his latest shoot, things start to feel a little off-kilter. And she can’t stop thinking about beautiful Gabe Kowalski. Autistic main character & own voices.
- Box-Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas
Holly stands out — for being poor, for being weird and for having the wrong clothes. Her one safe place is the pool, away from her troubled mother, their cramped house and the memories of the family they once had. When beautiful Ed keeps showing up to speak to her, Holly is faced with an opportunity to fall in love and to save someone who is slowly drowning too.
- Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp A twisty thriller about the five members of a tabletop gaming group who meet in a cabin for one last game, only to find themselves in a dangerous, murderous game beyond the table. Features autistic, trans and non-binary characters, plus Ehler’s Danlos rep. Autistic main character & own voices.
- Too Close to Home by Aoife Walsh
Minny is a fourteen year old girl living in her Babička’s house with her three siblings autistic Aisling, Selaena and Raymond, and mother Nita, desperately trying to find some space for herself to grow into. When Minny’s father Des returns quite out of the blue after disappearing four years ago, Minny and her sisters must decide how much they are willing to let him back in. Autistic secondary character.
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
A dual POV novel about a group of friends goQueens of Geek follows three friends – Charlie, Taylor and Jamie – as they arrive at SupaCon, the world’s best fandom convention. Dual POV, Taylor’s storyline follows her meeting her fave author, entering a contest and trying not to think about kissing Jamie. Autistic main character & own voices.
- The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde
Emmy King is the rockstar drummer for The Brightsiders, but when a night of partying lands her in hospital and her terrible girlfriend in jail, the paparazzi swoop. Emmy withdraws, finding comfort in her friends, especially her best friend and lead singer Alfie… who for some reason she can’t stop kissing? Is she heading towards another scandal or can they weather the storm?
- Forever Neverland by Susan Adrian
Clover and Fergus are the great-great grandchildren of Wendy Darling. When visiting London, Peter Pan comes to call and transports them to Neverland. But what they take with them transforms the land, and Fergus brought along his book of Greek myths. Wonderful story, with good autistic & non-autistic sibling relationship exploration. Autistic main character.
- The Infinite by Patience Agbabi
Elle Bibi-Imbelé Ifiè is a Leapling with The Gift — the ability to leap through time. After receiving a warning from the future, Elle and her best friend Big Ben travel to the Time Squad Centre in 2048 to learn more about being a Leapling. Absolutely jam-packed with neurodivergent characters, clever language and interesting storytelling.
- A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicol
When eleven year old Addie learns about the witch trials in Scotland and recognises the similarities with the plight of autistic and different women now, she campaigns for a memorial to their deaths. Beautiful moments between two autistic siblings. Autistic main character & own voices.
- To Night Owl From Dog Fish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wollitzer Avery and Bett are two very different girls flung together when their fathers start dating, and are sent to summer camp for some bonding. Avery is bookish, nervous, reserved and filled with anxiety (also, while unconfirmed in the book, reads autistic to me). Bett is fearless, outgoing, and spontaneous. The novel is told through their emails to each other as they try to navigate the ramifications of their fathers’ relationship and their reluctant friendships.
- The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp
The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp follows Barbara Gordon’s physical rehab after a gunshot paralyses her. But things are amiss, and other patients start to go missing… The Oracle Code is a really nuanced look at becoming disabled, working through that and finding community with other disabled people. It’s also a wonderfully creepy mystery, with a very satisfying ending, challenging who gets to be the heroes.
- Can You See Me by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott
Told through a mix of prose and diary entries, this novel follows Tally as she transitions from primary to high school and deals with the challenging requirements of changing friendships and new schools. Autistic main character & own voices.
- Do You Know Me by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott
Sequel to Can You See Me, which follows Tally to a summer camp with her ex-friends and potential new friends. About pushing boundaries and being brave, all on her own terms, and making friends with other neurodivergent people. Autistic main character & own voices.
- M is for Autism by the Limpsfield Grange Students
Somewhere between a short novella and a graphic novel style what-diagnosis-is-like help book, this story follows M as she gets her autism diagnosis. Recommended for autistic children going through the diagnostic process. Autistic main character & own voices.
- M in the Middle by the Limpsfield Grange Students
Co-written by a group of students from a school for autistic girls, M in the Middle follows M through early high school — and her first crush. Sequel to M is for Autism. Autistic main character & own voices.
Non-autistic bonus recommendations:
- Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found by Aisha Bushby, illustrated by Rachael Dean
Amira lives on a dhow with her two magical mothers, Ramady the goat and Namur her jinni. When a magical mysterious storm rages, Amira sets out to find out why. Expect mermaids, rocs, potion making, smelling other people’s feelings, and mystery islands. Amira is not autistic, but her story deals with her struggles with big emotions, particularly her anger, which I think will resonate with many autistic children.
- The Year I Didn’t Eat by Samuel Pollen
Max loves birds, wants to be a zoologist, has just discovered geocaching, and has anorexia. The novel follows him through the realities of eating disorders — how they feel and how they make your thoughts distort — but also how he copes with changes in his family, new friends, a new school year. It is overall a beautiful novel, that ends with a positive note and hope for recovery. Max is not autistic but his experience of an eating disorder matches that of many autistic people.
- Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez and Madmoiselle Caroline
A graphic novel that tells the story of Marguerite, a woman who realises that she might be autistic. Stunningly told through beautiful art with great use of colour. Own voices.
- Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
The story of Ava, an Irish girl who lands in Hong Kong looking for something new. There she finds English banker Julien who gives her the luxury life she wants, and Edith who fills her heart. A very pithy, smart story about three quite terrible people. While not stated as being autistic characters, I think most autistic people would agree that Ava is one of our own. Own voices.
- A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
Ruth is the town pariah — and that suits her as she doesn’t like them either. But when Evan Miller moves in next door and starts to charm her, Ruth has to decide whether to trust him or stay with herself. A very fun, hot romance novel with an autistic main character! Own voices.
- The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
An intense thriller that follows fourteen year old Ginny, who has finally been adopted after years in the foster care system, but carries a deep secret. Autistic main character.
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Keiko has worked at the same convenience store for eighteen years, but when a strange man starts working there too, Keiko begins to reconsider the pressure of heterosexual normality that society places upon her. Keiko is not confirmed as autistic, but all her behaviour is very autistic coded.
- Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
Natsuki and her cousin have been waiting for a spaceship to take them home to their planet, and promise each other to survive no matter what. After multiple experiences of abuse and under the pressure of society’s desire for conformity, Natsuki, her cousin and her husband of convenience agree it’s time to go home to their plant. Another heavily autistic coded character from Murata. Content warning: child sexual abuse, bloody violence.
- Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby
Xandri Corel is a master negotiator on her first contact ship, but when her latest mission brings her into contact with the Anmerilli, who have developed an incredibly powerful weapon. Own voices.
- A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
Having walked out on his wife and family, lost his job, and estranged from his family, Alex decides to reconnect with his autistic son through Minecraft, his son’s special interest. Alex starts the novel as incredibly misinformed on both autism and his son, and navigates his way with Sam’s guidance to understanding, supporting him and helping his son grow. A Boy Made of Blocks is a beautiful novel of learning, connecting through play and moving forwards.
- An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Aster lives in the basement of the HSS Matilda, a ship taking the last of humanity to the Promised Land. When an autopsy of their sovereign reveals a link between his death and her mother’s suicide, Aster retraces her steps and tries to find a way off this ship. Own voices.
- One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster
There’s a thief at large, stealing presents from houses on one street, but who is the culprit? One Christmas Night is a brilliant story about the connections and secrets and lives of people on one street, told through nine different points of view. A novel about love, grief, hope and community.
- All the Weight of our Dreams: On Living Racialised Autism edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
The first ever anthology of work featuring only autistic people of colour, including work from 61 authors across fiction, essays, poetry and art.
- Stim: an autistic anthology edited by Lizzie Huxley-Jones
The autistic anthology I edited, featuring the work of 18 autistic people through short fiction, essays, and art.
- Uncomfortable Labels by Laura Kate Dale
A memoir exploring transition, autism and addiction and how all three have been a large part of growing up for games writer Laura Kate Dale. Honest, very frank and hopeful.
- The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
Essays about life as a non-verbal autistic written by a thirteen year old Japanese boy. Very poignant and lyrical, written in short vignettes.
- Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8 by Naoki Higashida
A sequel collection to The Reason I Jump featuring a mixture of short fiction, poetry and essays, including those previously written for The Big Issue.
- Odd Girl Out by Laura James
Odd Girl Out charts Laura’s life pre- & post-diagnosis: diary entries transport the reader through her early life and memories, intermingled with navigating her life as “newly” autistic accompanied by wise words from Steve Silberman, Sarah Wild, Headteacher at Limpsfield Grange School and more.
- The Electricity of Every Living Thing by Katherine May
This memoir charts Katherine’s attempt to walk the South West Coastal Path as she adjusts to her late autism diagnosis and reframes her past life in a newly autistic focus. Lyrical and very beautiful.
- Wintering by Katherine May
Katherine May returns for another memoir, this time finding herself on the precipice of depression and hunkering down to get through it. As she enters her own winter, she explores those of others around the world.
- Explaining Humans by Dr. Camilla Pang
Sitting somewhere between memoir and popular science, Dr. Pang explores the oddities of human behaviour, examines it through her autistic and ADHD lens and relates it to what she knows best — hard science. Contains some really interesting suggestions about planning days in relation to modelling.
- Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
A brutal, beautiful book that subverts the memoir genre through third person accounts of events involving Chris Packham. The timeline flicks around, with the Summer of 1975 — the Summer of his kestrel — playing a centralised role. Alongside that are his end-of-chapter discussions with his therapist in September 2003, shortly after a near suicide attempt.
- Existing Autistic by Megan Rhiannon
An incredibly well designed and stunning little zine that explores what autism is, how it effects people and what that means, containing some of Megan’s own experiences. Very comprehensive and would make the perfect “so you just got diagnosed” gift. I recommend getting a physical copy because it’s so beautiful. Available here: https://www.megan-rhiannon.com/shop
non-fiction & self-help
- Camouflage by Sarah Bargiela, illustrated by Sophie Standing
A short graphic novel exploring camouflage and masking behaviour in autistic women, presenting the latest research and personal testimonials in stunning visuals.
- Love, Partnership or Singleton on the Autism Spectrum & Bittersweet on the Autism Spectrum, both edited by Luke Beardon and Dean Worton
Both collections explore experiences of over 25 autistic people, through their relationships with other people and (in bittersweet) a wider variety of experiences as an autistic person. The accounts are moving, interesting and often very frank.
- Autism, Anxiety and Me: A Diary in Even Numbers by Emma Louise Bridge & Penelope Bridge
A really great example of translation of thought and needs between an autistic person and her mother. Emma’s chapters explore a number of typical issues for young autistic people, which are then translated into neurotypical by Penny, with key points and advice. Strongly recommended for parents.
- Autism: A New Introduction to Psychological Theory and Current Debate by Sue Fletcher-Watson and Francesca Happé
A really great academic textbook summarising the latest autism research. Each chapter is ended with a reflection from a member of the autistic community, and discusses research critically.
- Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder : Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age by Sarah Hendrickx
The first self-help book on autism I read, and I still recommend it for autistic women and their parents. Charting from early life to employment, this advice book explains how autism may present differently in women and how to support them. Recommended for parents.
- A Practical Guide to Happiness in Adults on the Autism Spectrum: A Positive Psychology Approach by Victoria Honeybourne
A very clear book on approaching positivity and good mental health. Includes lots of helpful exercises and covers topics such as coping, cultivating positive emotions and wellbeing. Not a deep book on mental health but good habits to use day to day.
- Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life by Cynthia Kim
An essential handbook for adult autistics, particularly those who are diagnosed as adults. The book explores topics such as relationships, executive functioning and stimming, amongst others.
- Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism by Eva A. Mendes and Meredith R. Maroney
Interesting book that combines personal narratives of autistic people from the LGBTQ* umbrella with a summary of the latest research and understanding of how autism and queerness intersect. Primarily for those working with autistic people or in research.
- The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum by Jeanette Purkis, Dr. Emma Goodall and Dr. Jane Nugent
A thorough and excellent book about how mental health can affect autistic people in particular, with information on what to do about it. Covers anxiety, depression, self harm, suicidal ideation, medication and crisis, among others. Very useful for autistic people and family members.
- Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
The primer for the history of autism. Silberman explores how the diagnoses came about, historical figures who may have been autistic, the development of autistic culture, and the trials that autistic people face. It is a truly brilliant and thorough book.