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Whether an autism diagnosis is new or a parent is already several years into the journey with their child, autism can be a challenging condition to understand and live with.

According to the National Autism Association, autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 68 children in the United States. Some may have difficulty with social interactions, communication, and play activities.

Read on to learn about some of the best books that offer essential reading for families who have children on the autism spectrum.

Barry M. Prizant, PhD, is an authority on autism. In “Uniquely Human,” he shows the disorder in a new light. Rather than portraying autism as a disability in need of treatment, he focuses instead on understanding autistic people. By seeking to understand the person behind the diagnosis, you can better enhance their experience and help them build a better life.

What if autism could be boiled down to 10 simple things? In “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew,” author Ellen Notbohm gets close. The book is organized by 10 different characteristics of autistic children. The latest edition also includes 10 things to share with autistic kids as they reach puberty and adulthood. This book is a great resource for parents, teachers, and caregivers alike.

Children on the autism spectrum experience the condition in different ways and to different degrees. Many are high-functioning and go on to live productive, fulfilling adult lives. In “A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder,” authors Sally Ozonoff, PhD, Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and James C. McPartland, PhD, help parents raise children who’ll go on to be independent contributing members of society. The book contains useful advice and examples on how to help children on the spectrum build relationships and act appropriately.

Temple Grandin, PhD, is a well-known animal scientist and perhaps the most well-known autistic person. She lectures on the topic and is the author of several books, including “Thinking in Pictures.” In this volume, Grandin tells her story of what it’s like to be autistic. For outsiders it’s a foreign world, but Grandin manages to illustrate it clearly and delivers insights otherwise not seen.

Sometimes, you need a book that covers all of the basics — those things you might hear from a doctor, behavioral scientist, or other autism expert — but in a format easy to understand. The “Complete Guide to Understanding Autism” by Chantal Sicile-Kira is that primer. You’ll find chapters on causes, diagnosis, treatments, and more. It’s a great first autism book for parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else in the life of an autistic child.

What if autism and other disorders like ADHD weren’t seen as disorders, but variations? In “NeuroTribes,” author Steve Silberman proposes just that — that autism spectrum disorder is simply one of many variations on the type of humans in existence. He reaches back to outline the history of autism research and uncovers many things, including why autism diagnoses may be increasing.

Sally J. Rogers, PhD, Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and Laurie A. Vismara, PhD, wrote “An Early Start for Your Child with Autism” to give parents of autistic kids a jump-start on their child’s development. The book is geared toward parents, teachers, and caregivers, and offers everyday strategies for helping children learn and communicate. It also guides you on how to make daily tasks like bath time and meals as opportunities for growth and development.

Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. For parents, this eventuality can be worrying. In “Autism Adulthood,” author Susan Senator uses her own personal experience as the mother of an autistic adult son to educate other parents on the challenges and rewards they and their children will face. The book is filled with personal stories of Senator and others navigating adulthood as an autistic person.

Cynthia Kim knows what it’s like to find out you’re an autistic adult. She shares her knowledge and personal journey in “I Think I Might Be Autistic.” The book is a great resource for adults receiving new diagnoses or who have a suspicion that their uniqueness is actually autism. She discusses the symptoms and goes into what it’s like to adjust to your new reality once you’ve received a diagnosis. The emotional side of such a diagnosis can be difficult, and Kim offers actionable advice for coping.

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