5 Books To Read When You Get An Autism Diagnosis

by Rohini Katriar


If you are reading this piece first let me give you a hug and welcome you to this crazy world of autism. It’s not ideal, but it is our world and now it’s up to us to make it as wonderful as possible. It’s been 5 years since I got here and after making a million mistakes and then some, I finally got my hands on some books that changed my life.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last 5 years it is this – “There is no better therapist than a parent”. So take your time to grieve and mourn of the life you thought you were going to have and now look ahead. Below is the link to a piece Ive written on how to deal with the first shock of the diagnosis.

10 ways to get through an ASD diagnosis

And here goes…

#1 The Early Start Denver model

“The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a behavioral therapy for children with autism between the ages of 12-48 months. It is based on the methods of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Parents and therapists use play to build positive and fun relationships. Through play and joint activities, the child is encouraged to boost language, social and cognitive skills.

Rogers SJ and Dawson G. (2009) Play and Engagement in Early Autism:  The Early Start Denver Model. Volume I: The Treatment.”

This book formed the bedrock on which my son’s early intervention began when he was about 2 and a half years old and it was my first port of call. Do invest your time and money on getting a copy of this.

#2 Let me hear your Voice – Catherine Maurice

“A story told by a mother, of how two children were rescued from the tragedy of autism. This book presents the story of Maurice family’s struggle and triumph. It also talks about intensive behavioural therapy – a treatment that leads to dramatic improvement, and in some cases full recovery from autism”

So while I don’t like to call autism a tragedy in our life, I do know many parents who do liken it to one. That apart this book, more than any other helped me realise the power of determination and a structured teaching program with children with ASD. Many of us parents may not choose her approach towards “rescuing” our children, but it is book that has a happy outcome and shows a light at the end of the tunnel.

#3 Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues

It is a biographical book by Barry Neil Kaufman, and follows the journey of his wife and him with their son Raun. While there is debate about the book and the effectiveness of the modality, what is irrefutable is the fact that it a program that focusses on the relationship between the child and the parents forming the basis of therapy. While I’ve not actually followed the program, I did find many of its premises to be valid and the strategies mentioned in the book did help my son and me tremendously.

#4 The Out-of-Sync Child: (Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder) by Carol Stock Kranowitz

This book along with its sequel. The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (The Out-of-Sync Child Series) is one of the best books ever written about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) which I’ve found occurs in many kids diagnosed with autism.  The book describes sensory integration and explains how problems with handling sensory input can manifest themselves. The three categories of sensory function are discussed – tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive – and several very useful checklists are provided to help you determine if your child has any of these sensory integration problems. The book concludes with a lengthy description of exercises and activities that a parent or therapist can do with a child to assist them in becoming less bothered by sensory issues. I found the descriptions and activities listed in the book extremely useful for my son and enabled me to provide a level of OT at home for him.


#5 More Than Words® — The Hanen Program® for Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder or Social Communication Difficulties

The Hanen Program is one of the best for language development that I have come across. Please visit their website http://www.hanen.org for details about their various programs. The programs are delivered as workshops or guide books and DVD’s that help a parent or therapist practice it with their children. The program stressed on imitation skills, play slicks and other pre requisite skills before language development can commence and marks the 5 stages of a communicator. The activities are clearly outlined with pictures and examples and easy to do activities all delivered in a very happy and positive spirit. This again is a bible I would swear by for early language development.

A few additional ones

  • The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorder by Mary Lynch Barbera
  • 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Child with Autism by Jonathan Levy

The journey is long and we need champions along the way. These books were suggested to me over the years gave me a sense of empowerment and a belief that miracles and magic can happen.

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