Education, Special Needs

From the Bookshelf: Embracing Neurodivergent Narratives

Reading books written by or about people on the autism spectrum is a fantastic way to talk to your kids about empathy, acceptance, and why being different is a great thing. This month, we’re highlighting books written by authors with autism, and they’re all available at the New Orleans Public Library.


Flap Your Hands: A Celebration of Stimming by Steve Asbell is a fascinating and groundbreaking picture book by an autistic creator to celebrate stims–the repetitive movements that provide focused stimulation to people on the autistic spectrum. 

In Henry, Like Always by Jenn Bailey & Mika Song Henry, readers follow a first grader on the autism spectrum as he attempts to navigate friendships and sudden changes in classroom routines.

Too Sticky!: Sensory Issues With Autism by Jen Malia & Joanne Lew-Vriethoff is a wonderful tool to show how asking for accommodations is okay. In the book, we meet Holly, who loves doing experiments and learning new things in science class, but is worried about making slime when she learns that it’s made with glue, which Holly does not like. With help from family and her teacher, Holly receives the accommodations and encouragement she needs to give slime a try.

Middle Grade:

Hannah Sharpe Cartoon Detective by Janet Tashjian & Jake Tashjian follows an 11-year-old cartoonist with autism spectrum disorder as she uses her curiosity, creativity, and amazing memory to investigate her family’s newest Airbnb resident.

A Different Kind of Normal: My Real-Life Completely True Story About Being Unique by Abigail Balfe is a joyfully illustrated memoir that recounts the author’s journey growing up autistic and the challenges of navigating the “normal” world around her. This book is perfect for both neurodivergent and neurotypical kids to learn more about neurodiversity.

In Moonwalking by Zetta Elliott & Lyn Miller-Lachmann, punk-rock-loving autistic JJ Pankowski and graffiti artist Pie Velez stumble into an unlikely friendship. Set in 1980s Brooklyn, the two use their love of music and art to get through a tough semester until a run-in with the police changes everything in this heartwarming tale of acceptance and friendship.


As she’s trying to hide her recent autism diagnosis, 15-year-old Palestinian-Canadian Jesse creates a list of goals in Something More by Jackie Khalilieh. But, Jesse is forced to go off script when two very different boys capture her attention and her heart.

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White is set in an alternate Victorian England where mediums control the dead. Readers meet 16-year-old autistic, transgender boy Silas, as he exposes a power-hungry secret society, all while confined to a cruel finishing school designed to turn him into the perfect wife.

The Asperkid’s Secret Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of (Not-so-Obvious) Neurotypical Social Guidelines for Autistic Teens by Jennifer Cook & Tim Stringer is a must-read for all 10-17-year-olds on the autism spectrum. Through witty insights into baffling social codes, this book provides inside information on social rules helpful in navigating the world around them.

This article was originally published in April 2024.

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