essential autistic reading list

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. 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… 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. 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.⁠ 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. 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.
  • 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. Own voices.

children’s fiction

  • 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.
  • 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. Own voices.
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. Own voices.

fiction

  • 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! 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

anthologies

  • 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.

memoir

  • 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 Autrism 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.

Bonus recommendations (to come!)