“My brain is always sending me off on little missions, whether or not I want to do them. And if I don’t obey, then I have to fight a feeling of horror. Really, it’s like I’m being pushed over the brink into a kind of Hell. For people with autism, living itself is a battle.”

~Naoki Higashida from The Reason I Jump

Very profound words, right? That book was life-changing for me. It’s a fantastic book for special needs parents.

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books for special needs parents

If you haven’t read it and have an autistic child, it’s a must-read. There are many first-person books from people living with disabilities, and hearing their words and their thoughts can be life-changing.

Let me just put it out there–I have the phrase “special needs” in the title and I really dislike that phrase. As do many disabled people. However, not everyone is there yet, and if I want to people to see this post, I have to use words that they are searching.

I asked my readers what they have read that are life-changing books for them. Books, that when you’re reading them, you’re having that Oprah “a-HA!” moment. It has changed the way you interact with your child, helped you understand your child better.

Side note: I am aware that I am not using people-first language, and I am also using disabled rather than special needs. All are acceptable to use. Neither people first nor using identity first is better than the other.

And avoiding the word disabled implies that it’s a bad/negative word. It’s not. There is a movement right now called #SayTheWord to take back ownership of the words disabled and disability.

So, here is the list of books from my readers–books that gave them an “a-ha!” moment and were life-changing for them, as far as raising a child with disabilities or learning disabilities. I realized when I was grabbing the pictures and links from Amazon that they have a feature where I can grab a widget with the price too.

So the price you are seeing on these life-changing books should be current, though it might vary for Kindle and so on. And there’s always the library!

Special Needs Parenting Books

You can tap any of the bolded links to see the special needs parenting book on Amazon.

  1. The Explosive Child: One of my favorite authors or experts in this field is Ross. Greene. This is a fantastic book. A groundbreaking approach to understanding and parenting children who frequently exhibit severe fits of temper and other intractable behaviors, from a distinguished clinician and pioneer in this field.
  2. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison. Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.”
  3. Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin: Originally published in 1995 as an unprecedented look at autism, Grandin writes from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person to give a report from “the country of autism.” Introducing a groundbreaking model which analyzes people based on their patterns of thought, Grandin “charts the differences between her life and the lives of those who think in words” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
  4. No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-Of-Control Behavior by Jed Baker: Dr. Jed Baker offers parents and teachers strategies for preventing and managing meltdowns. Over twenty years of experience working with children on the autism spectrum combined with his personal experiences raising his own children have yielded time-tested strategies―and results! 
  5. School Struggles: A Guide to Your Shut-Down Learner’s Success by Richard Selznick:  School Struggles offers aid, comfort, and perspective to parents whose children have difficulty in school for a multitude of reasons. Selznick addresses reading and writing issues, task analysis, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, difficulties with organization, social skills, medication, parents’ interactions with teachers, and more, in a practical, down-to-earth manner. The book is filled with takeaway points, surprising insights, and new actions to try with your child that are a godsend for families struggling with school and behavioral issues.
  6. Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents’ Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline: The number of anxious, depressed, hyperactive and withdrawn children is staggering—and still growing! Millions have experienced bullying, violence (real or in the media), abuse or sexual molestation. Many other kids have been traumatized from more “ordinary” ordeals such as terrifying medical procedures, accidents, loss and divorce.
  7. Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline: What parents, educators, and health professionals can do to recognize, prevent, and heal childhood trauma, from infancy through adolescence.
  8. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century by Alice Wong: “Disability rights activist Alice Wong brings tough conversations to the forefront of society with this anthology. It sheds light on the experience of life as an individual with disabilities, as told by none other than authors with these life experiences. It’s an eye-opening collection that readers will revisit time and time again.” —Chicago Tribune
  9. Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann: One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human.
  10. About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times : Boldly claiming a space in which people with disabilities can be seen and heard as they are―not as others perceive them―About Us captures the voices of a community that has for too long been stereotyped and misrepresented. Speaking not only to those with disabilities, but also to their families, coworkers and support networks, the authors in About Us offer intimate stories of how they navigate a world not built for them.
  11. The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Differences by Carol Stock Kranowitz: The groundbreaking book that explains Sensory Processing Differences (SPD)–and presents a drug-free approach that offers hope for parents–now in a newly updated third edition (2022).

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