7 Kids’ Books We Recommend on Autism or Disability Representation

By Tiffany “TJ” Joseph, Bened Life Neurodiversity & Disability Specialist

Books for children are magical simply because childhood is, or should be, magical. It’s a time to not only learn about the world, but also to imagine this world we live in as the best it can be. Reading books to kids allows their minds to expand immediately. Kids aren’t judgmental, so some of life’s greatest truths and best ideals fall directly into open minds with each word. 

When I was a child myself, I found solace and peace as well as adventure and intellectual stimulation in my books. The books I read and liked, I did so over and over for many years on end. My young mind simply accepted what I was reading as something that was possible – no judgment, or saying, “That could never happen,” or anything like my adult mind now would do while reading. We adults have a lot of experiences, failures, traumas, and heartache to attach to every word we read. I critically judge and disbelieve what I read now. That comes with the territory of growing up.

But with an open mind, kids accept that what they read could be true and that’s where the magic lies. We could take fresh, young minds and shape them to be the most inclusive, non-judgmental, and accepting people. They just need the books to teach them about diverse characters, especially Disabled ones. That’s where this list comes in. These are all books that I love personally, read to my own children and students, and know they teach important lessons about Disabled and Autistic characters, which is sadly a lesson many adults miss.

What’s most refreshing about children growing up now is having these books available at all! When I was young, I didn’t see many children's books about disability or autism. As you will see below, there are now so many to choose from. These authors and their characters come from all walks of life. There is not only the diversity of disability in kids books now, but also diversity within books about disability. I have listed books written by parents of Autistic children, Autistic parents, books by Nonspeaking and speaking Autistic people, as well as many other intersections. It’s truly a great time to be alive!

A Day With No Words is a book about a Nonspeaking Autistic boy

A Day with No Words - Tiffany Hammond: The beauty of this book is that it is written by an author who is not only Autistic herself, but also a parent to two sons who are also Autistic. The story is about her oldest son, Aidan, who is Nonspeaking through his mouth, but speaks plenty through his communication device. This story is about the family’s day where they don’t say those words using their mouths to provide more acceptance to Aidan.

The Adventures of Echo Boy and ABC Girl - Chante Douglas and Reggie Byers: Echo Boy and ABC Girl is written by Chante Douglas in an effort to create the type of literature in the world that she wished she saw for her Autistic son. Echo Boy is a superhero with the power of echolalia. ABC Girl is a hyperlexic sidekick. These are great highlights of specific traits often seen in Autistic kids. 

My Brother Otto is about an Autistic boy told by his sister

My Brother Otto - Meg Raby: The fact is many people communicate in ways that don't include mouth speech. Yet, there were very few children’s books that highlight other forms of communication. My Brother Otto, written by an Autistic speech therapist, aims to change the landscape. My Brother Otto is about a big sister, Piper, and her little brother, Otto Crow, who is a Nonspeaking Autistic AAC user. This book not only highlights assistive technology, but also comfort items and special interests, which are passionate interests that are very strong in Autistic children and adults. Normalizing stimming and Autistic traits is why I love this book and a reason why my students also love it too. 

Come Meet Drayden - Dana Young-Askew: Drayden is a normal Autistic kid with a large family of siblings that love and care for him. Come Meet Drayden is written from those siblings’ point of view. To his siblings, Drayden is just a typical child that just presents a little differently to people; to them, he is just Drayden. The great thing about this story is that it is different from most because it’s written from the unique perspective of siblings in the family. 

The Autistic Boy in the Unruly Body is part of the Autism and I Series by Gregory C Tino

The Autistic Boy in the Unruly Body: Autism and I Series - Gregory C Tino: All of Gregory C. Tino's books in the Autism and I series are wonderful to read no matter who you are, whether you know nothing about autism or are a parent, professional, or Disabled yourself. These books teach about autism and apraxia as well as being Nonspeaking and Autistic from a Nonspeaking perspective, which is relatively rare in the Autistic writer space. 

As a paraeducator in self-contained autism classes, I was told my Nonspeaking students would never be able to sit through an entire book, but these books have proven that is not true. My kids know when they are listening to a book about them and can finally be seen. They pay attention the entire time I am reading, every single time.

My Amazingly Abundant Autistic Senses is another book we recommend

My Amazingly Abundant Autistic Senses: Autism and I Series - Gregory C. Tino: Another book in the Autism and I series; in fact it’s the newest book. This book does such a great job discussing the good and the bad of having a super sensitive sensory system. What makes this book stand out to me is the amazing way Mr. Tino connects his disabilities to his abilities. This means that he takes the reader inside how what can seem like a bad thing, for instance, sensitive ears that can hurt sometimes also can hear music in a much more powerful way. So yes, our sensory system can bring us irritation, but also can bring vast joy.

Another aspect in all of Mr. Tino’s books is that he is proud to be Autistic and Nonspeaking and gives the reader permission to celebrate the positive side of being Autistic. I dare say this book engages in said Autistic pride even more than his other titles.

Happy, Flappy, and Me - Joy F. Johnson: This story is written by Joy F. Johnson, an Autistic therapist and parent of Autistic kids. It’s written showing that Autistic stimming and characteristics can and should be seen as normal.


About the author:

TJ is an Autistic adult working in “accessible education” with teen and young adult Autistic non-speakers. She herself is Hard of Hearing and utilizes many ways to communicate including ASL, mouth words, and high-tech AAC (augmentative and alternative communication). Their passion in the disability space is communication and education rights for people of all disabilities. Find TJ on social media at Nigh Functioning Autism.

Other articles by Tiffany Joseph

Top Five Books to Educate Yourself on Autism

The Meaning & Impact of Invisible Disabilities

Autism Awareness Month: Acceptance Starts with Listening


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