I read a lot of children’s books. A LOT. In fact, so far this year 84 out of the 95 books I have read are children’s books. 80 of those 84 are picture books. However, it never occurred to me until recently to start searching for books about autism inclusion/acceptance (at least not children’s books). It turns out there are quite a few out there!
I will admit that I am more critical of anything written on the subject of Autism/Neurodiversity because as a neurotypical, even though my child is autistic, I don’t see the full picture. Therefore, I try my best to align myself with the ideals of actual autistics. Their voices are the most important for our world to embrace full inclusion and acceptance. I wanted to write a little bit about my top 3 favorites that I have read this year.
1. Different Like Me by Jennifer Elder
This book is geared towards ages 8-10 because there is a lot of text on the page. It is narrated by an autistic boy named Quinn. In the book you will learn about some famous people who he can identify with because they are “Different Like [Him]”. It’s not possible to know if every person that he talks about in this book had a black and white diagnosis on the spectrum due to time period that some of these people lived, but the significance of the book is how Quinn is able to see a part of himself in the lives of these inspiring people. Some of the “autism heroes” in this book include, but are not limited to: Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Anderson, Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Temple Grandin, and others.
2. I Love Being My Own Autistic Self by Landon Bryce
I love, love, loved this book! I wish I could place this book in the hands of anyone who interacts with autistic adults or children on a regular basis and have difficulties understanding their challenges. The presentation of this book is geared more towards children, but I think that there are many adults that need to read these truths. What I love about this book is the honesty that there are differences in the autism spectrum both good and bad, and that’s a part of what makes us all human.
There is a common misconception that people who are pro neurodiversity and who push back against the grain of cure culture think that autistic people are superior to neurotypicals and allistics. This is simply not true. Above all the emphasis on inclusion of autistics especially when it comes to neurotypicals trying to further their understanding of autism is such a great component to this book.
3. Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK! by Clay & Gail Morton
I got this book as a gift for my son’s 5th birthday. It is usually difficult for me to find books that capture his attention, but this one did. So many times in books or in the media when it comes to minorities or the disabled, all energy and focus is geared toward the neurotypical (NT) person. I saw this a lot in some of the picture books that emphasize the relationship between siblings where one is NT and one is autistic.
This book makes you want to throw the word “normal” out the window because NT’s can seem just as unusual to someone on the spectrum even though it’s usually presented the other way around. When I first heard about this book, I thought it was a spoof of some sort. However, having read it, this book will seem a little humorous to NT’s but it actually is informative to kiddo’s on the spectrum. Not every person on the spectrum is going to fit exactly into the mold of the characteristics described in this book (for example my son is autistic but he loves to play with other kids). Overall I think that this is a great picture book to show autistic children that we are all different and that’s ok. We just need to accept each other.
*Disclaimer* While I loved Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap, I do not recommend following the book’s fb page because I did find some of the content ableist in nature and offensive.
What are your favorite picture books about acceptance and inclusion? Comment below!