Over the last year, and especially in the last few months, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about myself and how I can relate to the world as an autistic person. At this point, I’ve only read books written by people who are autistic, as I’ve much more interested in people’s personal experiences than in someone’s study of it. When I exhaust these, I will branch out to others’ perspectives.
Here are a few books that I have found helpful so far:
Asperger Syndrome and Anxiety: A Guide to Successful Stress Management
This book was the first book I read on the autism spectrum. In fact, I discovered I was autistic in my journey to figure out why I was anxious—about everything. Turns out anxiety is just part of the experience of being autistic and this book had a number of helpful tips on how to manage it. It’s written by someone on the spectrum who is also a therapist, bringing together both expert advice and personal experience.
Asperger’s on the Job: Must-Have Advice for People with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates
I picked this book up after experiencing tension at work. Within the first couple pages, I felt healing take place in my heart—there’s something beautiful knowing you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. Honestly, people with autism have a lot to offer the work place: our intelligence is more “fluid”, we think outside the box, we are creative problem-solvers, hard workers, and honest to the bone—like super, super honest. But sometimes people don’t understand what we mean, and we usually fail to follow common social cues, this plus sensory stresses and anxiety from being under scrutiny can cause problems in the work place. This book lays it all out and is a great resource for anyone on the spectrum or anyone who wants the benefits of having someone on their staff who is.
The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband
I’m still in the middle of reading this one, but the first chapter was enough to play a huge role in saving our marriage. As many of you know. Allyssa and I nearly got divorced. This story changed because Allyssa discovered, came to understand, and accept me as someone who is autistic. I’m pretty good at masking, but that can’t last all day. Allyssa was stuck with the real me, and that was, at times, less than she signed up for. It wasn’t until she realized that my actions and comments were a product of my neurology and not a character flaw, that our marriage shifted for the better. She will tell anyone, “If you want to understand Joe, go read about autism—even just a good paragraph description will make all the difference!” I got super luck with Allyssa—her willingness to understand and trust who I am has saved our marriage. Now we’re doing great! This book is a good introduction to how autism can impact a marriage.
On the Spectrum: Autism, Faith, and the Gifts of Neurodiversity
I am in the process of finishing this book. It’s written by a christian who is also a creative writer—so anyone who knows me, knows why I connected with it. In the book, he tells his story, but also reflects on how autism fuels his faith and creative expression. There are a couple chapters in here that I found especially helpful as build my own theology for living with autism, both as a pastor and a creative.
Books Next Up on My Reading List:
I Am Strong: The Life and Journey of an Autistic Pastor
I was introduced to this author by my therapist and ordered both of his books. I recently listened to a podcast interview with him as well, here.
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism
Temple Grandin is one of the better known leaders in this field, so it’s about time I give one of her books a try.