I created and deleted this post several times before I reached this draft. Originally I had a list of books with characters who are canonically autistic, but I couldn’t post it in good faith. For one, I’m not autistic, so I was going by what other readers classified as autistic characters. Another issue I found was that a lot of these books weren’t actually written by people with autism, and while that may not necessarily be an issue, I have trouble suggesting books that don’t come from the efforts of someone who has lived the experience. My third qualm was that the majority of the books I was finding had characters with Aspergers syndrome, which is currently being debated in the medical community and is widely considered to not be a proper term. So, in order to make this post I followed the advice I’m about to give to you, the reader, ask someone who is autistic.
There aren’t many suggestions I have, but I would rather represent some of what my friends found inspiring and relatable than spew off a list of possibly polarizing works. So here we go!
The Young Wizards Series
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The Young Wizards series presently consists of ten books, focusing on the adventures of two young wizards named Nita and Kit. Each novel pits Nita and Kit against the “Lone Power”, an entity ultimately bent on the destruction of the entire universe. There are ten books in the series so read up!
M is for Autism
M. That’s what I’d like you to call me please. I’ll tell you why later.
Welcome to M’s world. It’s tipsy-turvy, sweet and sour, and the beast of anxiety lurks outside classrooms ready to pounce. M just wants to be like other teenagers her age who always know what to say and what to do. So why does it feel like she lives on a different plane of existence to everyone else?
Written by the students of Limpsfield Grange, a school for girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder with communication and interaction difficulties, M is for Autism draws on real life experiences to create a heartfelt and humorous novel that captures the highs and lows of being different in a world of normal.
Look Me in the Eye
Ever since he was small, John Robison had 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 in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings pickling himself in sherry. It was no wonder he gravitated to machines, which could, at least, be counted on.
After fleeing his parents and dropping out of high school, his savant-like ability to visualize electronic circuits landed him a gig with KISS, for whom he created their legendary fire-breathing guitars. Later, he drifted into a “real” job, as an engineer for a major toy company. But the higher Robison rose in the company, the more he had to pretend to be “normal” and do what he simply couldn’t: communicate. It wasn’t worth the paycheck.
It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told him he had the form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way Robison saw himself—and the world.
The Great Teacher’s Student
This is actually a Magic: The Gathering shot story/background story. The link to it is here, and it follows a young girl names Narset, her continuous quest for knowledge and her tutoring under a great dragon. This story is harrowing, and it does a fantastic job of forcing the reader into her mindset and showing the overstimulation and panic that can happen. It’s thoroughly engaging and a quick read, so I defiantly recommend it!