Sometimes it’s hard to know where to turn, especially when everyone seems to have an agenda or is trying to sell you something. You want the best for your child, and with autism, sometimes, you need help determining what the best is. The Center for Engaging Autism has developed a list of the resources available to parents with young children with autism. You will find our favorite organizations, trusted information sources and books listed below. Of course, we don’t know everything out there, so let us know if you love something or someone serving families living with autism. We’ll look into it and share it with you. We always make sure that resources align closely with our mission.
While the language of diagnosis, disability, and accomodations are essential for navigating many systems on behalf of our children, we encourage you to also use language that describes your child’s strengths and interests and fosters connections between you and your child and with your community.
The F-words in Childhood Disability: A framework based on child development that has international reach (multilingual resources)
Reframing Behavior: Based on the work of Ross Greene, this infographic illustrates the key idea that “kids do well if they can.”
Understanding the Spectrum (cartoon) by Rebecca Burgess illustrates the complexity of the autism spectrum through the experience of Archie, a character with autism.I
Information about Autism
The University of Minnesota has a wealth of information, but our favorite go-tos are:
- A synopsis of ASD with descriptions of conventional treatments as well as integrative approaches. This page from the Center for Spirituality and Healing demystifies treatments and references the research (or lack thereof) behind them.
- The Center for Community Integration has a fact sheet and a report that may help families navigating autism to better understand their experiences in a broader context.
Books for Parents
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Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm is a great place to start. It shifts perspectives on the most common “myths” about children on the autism spectrum. And bonus, it’s an easy read.
Early Intervention and Autism by James Ball, MD is packed with all the information you need to get started in supporting your child with autism. The information is good and thorough but very accessible. Refreshing when your head is swirling with new acronyms like IEP, PDD, ABA, RDI.
A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know by Fred Volkmar and Lisa Wiesner looks overwhelming because it is so thick. But don’t pass it by. It’s so thick because it covers everything you need to know from birth through adulthood. Truly comprehensive , it is co-written by Volkmar, one of the leading researchers in autism spectrum disorder, and his wife who is a pediatrician. Yet, you would never know the authors are so wicked smart. They steer clear of jargon and explain complicated research in a straight forward manner. Every parent should have this in their autism library. You’ll reference it for years and years.
Talkability by Fern Sussman is so practical and so parent friendly! Giving parents strategies to develop language (both verbal and nonverbal) in their kids in every day moments, this book will be well-loved and tattered by the time you no longer need it. And that’s the beauty of it. The strategies are so natural and realistic, you’ll find yourself doing them all the time, without even realizing it. And life becomes a little bit easier, for you and your child.
Just Take a Bite! by Lorie Ernsperger provides pracitical solutions to a common problem with kids on the spectrum. Refusing to eat, eating only specific things presented in specific ways, behavior issues stemming from food, this stress is only second to the sleep thing, right? So get some help. An invaluable resource to ease a major parenting struggle.
New Social Story Book by Carol Gray gets you started on being a social story pro! Don’t know what a social story is? You will. An invaluable tool for explaining and inspiring appropriate behaviors, reducing anxiety, and defining social expectations.
No More Meltdowns! by Jed Baker addresses one of the most stressful aspects of parenting a child on the spectrum. Broken down into easily digestable chapters, this book is a wonderful guide to diffusing meltdowns. But more importantly it helps you avoid them all together.
Sleep Better! by Vincent Mark Durand finally gives some guidance to parents of children with special needs on how to address sleep issues. We also highly recommend the Indigo Dreams CD’s and books for guided relaxation for kids on the spectrum. Chose the ones that you think your child will connect with.
When My Worries Get too Big by Kari Dunn Buron helps kids on the spectrum and their parents develop specific strategies for managing anxiety. Sitting down with your child and completing this workbook opens up new understanding about what triggers their anxiety and also what calms them. You may be surprised at what you discover.
The Incredible 5 Point Scale by Kari Dunn Buron gives you a simple and visual strategy for managing all kinds of behaviors. It is easily adaptable to voice modulation, anger, anxiety, activity level, any areas needing attention. Plus it gives you a system for talking about behavior that is nonjudgemental and inclusive of your child on the spectrum. Invaluable tool.
Just Give Him the Whale! by Patrick Schwartz and Paula Kluth should be handed over to your child’s teacher. Read it first, so you know what is possible. Every child deserves to be in an educational environment that plays to their strengths and this book teaches teachers how to do just that for kids on the spectrum.