>Parents and teachers of children with autism, friends of people with Asperger’s, people who know the ropes and recognize the characteristics will appreciate these books. Some intentionally include characters with autism as major or important supporting characters. Others feature characters that fit so precisely on the spectrum I have to say it.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Imagine a novel with chapters numbered in prime numbers. That’s just one unique twist in British author Mark Haddon’s Curious Incidentof the Dog in the Night-time.
The Truth Out There
I read this book aloud to my sixth grade class a few years ago. The computer game element, the potential for alien sightings, skateboarding and other age-appropriate elements all make this mystery a page-turner. Asperger’s Syndrome is an important piece of the puzzle.
Al Capone Does my Shirts
This Newbery honor book reveals the impact of autism on the entire family and the challenge in seeking appropriate educational placements and services. The historical element of the story lends an interesting perspective because autism wasn’t a known diagnosis at the time. The parents just know their daughter needs help; a lot of specialized help.
Rules is another Newbery honor book that depicts the impact of autism on a family. By noted author Cynthia Lord, Rules is written in first person from the perspective of the disabled child’s older sister. An interesting character in this story is another disabled young person, and the plot twists tightly as he find his place socially with the neurotypical and non-disabled students.
The Art of Keeping Cool
Set on the east coast of the U.S. during WWII, The Art of Keeping Cool involves two high school boys, an authoritarian grandfather, and a German refugee artist. The main character’s cousin Elliot shows so many autistic-like traits that I’m certain a real-life Elliot would be on the spectrum. An “aha” moment for Elliot is the day he realizes his actions have an effect on others. Until then, he thinks only of his own small circle, his own perspective on life.
Silent to the Bone
Elaine “E. L.” Konigsburg wrote a thriller in this one. Older brother Branwell loses the power of speech when his baby sister is seriously injured and blame falls on him. This isn’t the part that suggestions autism, however. Branwell’s character traits before the tragedy and his inability to cope suggest Asperger’s. It takes a close friend to see through the silence and find a way for Branwell to communicate and help himself.
The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry features a non-verbal boy as the title character. An asylum for the insane looms in the background as a young girl learns to accept and reach out to the boy in the field, the one who despite his disability loves animals and takes care of babies of all breeds – or tries.