This is simply a selection of books I’ve read, mostly by autistic authors, which have helped me to learn about and come to terms with my autism. It’s not exhaustive, and there will be many excellent books on autism and Aspergers that are not listed here. The topics range from autism in the workplace to coping with everyday life, and of course the inevitable Complete Guide. I’ve categorised them according to the area where they most helped, and added a brief review on each text. Apologies for the length of this page!
Autism in the workplace
Aspergers on the Job (Rudy Simone)
Despite quite possibly the worst cover imagery in the world I found this book invaluable, both for introducing managers and colleagues to Asperger syndrome, and for identifying simple things I could do myself to make my work life easier. It has a straightforward, no-nonsense tone which manages to convey very clearly the difficulties those with ASD face, without ever eliciting pity; and it delivers a range of simple and practical suggestions on things that may help in any given workplace.
Managing with Asperger Syndrome (Malcolm Johnson)
This is an account by an adult-diagnosed autistic man of his career path to date. He describes clearly and objectively his encounters with success and failure in various management positions, and the pitfalls he learned to navigate along the way. Recommended reading for anyone with ASD considering a career that involves people management or serious workplace politics.
Navigating a counter-intuitive world
Been There. Done That. Try This! (ed. Tony Attwood, Craig Evans & Anita Lesko)
The result of an online research project, this book began with a survey of autistic people to determine the aspects of everyday life they found most difficult to navigate. This book covers the 17 most stressful and difficult aspects of everyday life according to the autistic people surveyed, in order of severity and prevalence. Each chapter begins with a brief description of the difficulty, followed by contributions from autistic people on how they mitigate that difficulty in their everyday lives. A small section at the end of each chapter, written by Dr Tony Attwood, summarises the issue from a psychological perspective, supporting the autistic contributions with additional information and occasionally some recommendations. In all, a good read – if only to know that it’s OK to be scared!
Aspergers and Anxiety (Nick Dubin)
Again: it’s OK to be scared! This book looks at the specific problem of anxiety and its links with autism. The autistic author covers how autism can lead to anxiety and the impacts on various aspects of life, before describing various mitigation and treatment options. Specific attention is paid to areas where autistic people might encounter problems, such as finding a suitable therapist. For me, this was a very useful and insightful perspective to have, but since the author is based in the US the advice on treatment options didn’t apply.
Disclosure and self-advocacy
Coming Out Asperger (ed. Dinah Murray)
A collection of chapters on disclosure in a range of everyday contexts from several different perspectives. Each chapter is written by a different autistic contributor. I got on with some of these authors well, and with others less well, which is a very good sign: with such a variety of perspectives there should (hopefully) be something there for everyone. If you are agonising over who to tell about your diagnosis (or self-diagnosis) and how, this may be a good book for you.
Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum (ed. Stephen Shore)
Another book with a variety of perspectives and advice on self-advocacy and disclosure. This is more aimed towards formal contexts, such as navigating the benefits system, and has a long chapter on IEPs (Individualised Education Programs) which is only relevant to children in the US. However if you’re currently negotiating any of these systems it might be worth a look.
Obtaining a diagnosis as an adult is difficult, and can be expensive. The path to diagnosis in the UK is generally through your GP. A starting point for details may be the National Autistic Society. If I ever blog about my own path to diagnosis I will add that as a resource. But that’s all I’ve got, I’m afraid.
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome (Tony Attwood)
I can’t really have a page of autism resources without including the authoritative text on All Things Asperger. This text is recommended everywhere, online and by psychologists and sundry. It covers in detail the psychology and expression of Asperger syndrome, as well as developmental markers and early intervention therapies that can help autistic people successfully navigate a counter-intuitive world.
I won’t lie to you: this isn’t an easy read, and not just because the academic language is a bit obscure in places (I don’t actually have a problem with that!). The underlying tone that occasionally peeps through is one in which the non-autistic view is the “right” view of the world, and the autistic view is “wrong”. Overall, however, the book is more constructive and non-judgemental than any other text I’ve seen written by a non-autistic expert, and very much appeals to my desire for tiny, exquisite levels of detail. So if you can deal with the occasional jolt to the stomach, it’s well worth your time.