It’s April, which means it’s Autism Acceptance Month! We’ve compiled a list of great reads featuring autistic characters and books by autistic authors. Please make sure to add a few of these to your TBR and celebrate the vibrant, creative and innovating autistic community all year long!
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought. Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie — no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself–even though she’s not entirely sure how… Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car–supposedly by accident. Yeah, right. Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen–and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.
Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony reimagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn’t be more wrong for each other. But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all–an undeniable need for revenge. Soon their plan is in place: Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. Then, break up spectacularly and dash everyone’s hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all. To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder: What if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? And what if two wrongs do make a right?
But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.
When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.
In this queer contemporary YA mystery, a nonbinary autistic teen realizes they must not only solve a 30-year-old mystery but also face the demons lurking in their past in order to live a satisfying life. Sam Sylvester has long collected stories of half-lived lives — of kids who died before they turned nineteen. Sam was almost one of those kids. Now, as Sam’s own nineteenth birthday approaches, their recent near-death experience haunts them. They’re certain they don’t have much time left… But Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, their next-door neighbor. Yet the past keeps roaring back — in Sam’s memories and in the form of a thirty-year-old suspicious death that took place in Sam’s new home. Sam can’t resist trying to find out more about the kid who died and who now seems to guide their investigation. When Sam starts receiving threatening notes, they know they’re on the path to uncovering a murderer. But are they digging through the past or digging their own future grave?
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him — the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with. But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all. Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own. Perfect for fans of Gideon the Ninth and Annihilation.
Zoe Kelly is starting a new phase of her life. High school was a mess of bullying and autistic masking that left her burnt out and shut down. Now, with an internship at an online media company—the first step on the road to her dream writing career—she is ready to reinvent herself. But she didn’t count on returning to her awkward and all-too-recent high-school experiences for her first writing assignment. When her piece, about her non-existent dating life, goes viral, eighteen-year-old Zoe is overwhelmed and more than a little surprised by the response. But, with a deadline and a list of romantic contenders from the past to reconnect with for her piece on dating, she is hoping one of her old sparks will turn into a new flame.
Five friends take a trip to a cabin. It’s supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways—a chance to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past three years. But they’re all dealing with their own demons, and they’re all hiding secrets. And as they start to play the murder mystery game that brought them together in the first place, the lines between the game and reality blend, with deadly consequences. Someone knows their secrets. Someone wants to make them pay. Soon, it’s a race against time before it’s game over—forever. Are you ready to play?
Sixteen years ago, a plague wiped out nearly all of humanity. The Company’s vaccine stopped the virus’s spread, but society was irrevocably changed. Those remaining live behind impenetrable city walls, taking daily doses of virus suppressant and relying on The Company for continued protection. They don’t realize that everything they’ve been told is a lie… Clover Donovan didn’t set out to start a revolution–quiet, autistic, and brilliant, she’s always followed the rules. But that was before they forced her into service for the Time Mariners. Before they condemned her brother to death, compelling him to flee the city to survive. Before she discovered terrifying secrets about The Company. Clover and the Freaks, her ragtag resistance group, are doing their best to spread the rebellion and stay under The Company’s radar. But when their hideout is discovered, they are forced, once again, to run. Only this time, The Company has special plans for Clover, plans that could risk her life and stop the uprising in its tracks…
Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy — if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.
January 29, 2035: That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit–the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter–a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
Around 1 in 100 people in the UK are autistic, but rarely do autistic people have a voice. They are the ones on the daytime tv sofas, in parliament, or writing about their experiences with us. While these voices are important, the balance is tipped, and rarely do we get to use our own voices to talk about our experiences or to show how creative, smart and funny we are, how different from the stereotype most people have. This anthology represents an important step in reclaiming that power, of using our own voices. This book will bring together some of the best autistic writers, showcasing the immense talents of people who just happen to be on the spectrum. It won’t just feature essays about what it is to be autistic, but also stories, illustrations and art. So this isn’t just a book for autistic people or those who work or live with us; Stim will be an enjoyable, insightful collection for people around the world, who want to discover and champion unheard voices.
Written by autistic trans people from around the world, this vital and intimate collection of personal essays reveals the struggles and joys of living at the intersection of neurodivergence and gender diversity. Weaving memories, poems and first-person narratives together, these stories showcase experiences of coming out, college and university life, accessing healthcare, physical transition, friendships and relationships, sexuality, pregnancy, parenting, and late life self-discovery, to reveal a rich and varied tapestry of life lived on the spectrums. With humour and personal insight, this anthology is essential reading for autistic trans people, and the professionals supporting them, as well as anyone interested in the nuances of autism and gender identity.
For every visibly Autistic person you meet, there are countless “masked” Autistic people who pass as neurotypical. Masking is a common coping mechanism in which Autistic people hide their identifiably Autistic traits in order to fit in with societal norms, adopting a superficial personality at the expense of their mental health. This can include suppressing harmless stims, papering over communication challenges by presenting as unassuming and mild-mannered, and forcing themselves into situations that cause severe anxiety, all so they aren’t seen as needy or “odd.”
In Unmasking Autism, Dr. Devon Price shares his personal experience with masking and blends history, social science research, prescriptions, and personal profiles to tell a story of neurodivergence that has thus far been dominated by those on the outside looking in. For Dr. Price and many others, Autism is a deep source of uniqueness and beauty. Unfortunately, living in a neurotypical world means it can also be a source of incredible alienation and pain. Most masked Autistic individuals struggle for decades before discovering who they truly are. They are also more likely to be marginalized in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and other factors, which contributes to their suffering and invisibility. It’s time to honor the needs, diversity, and unique strengths of Autistic people so that they no longer have to mask–and it’s time for greater public acceptance and accommodation of difference. In embracing neurodiversity, we can all reap the rewards of nonconformity and learn to live authentically, Autistic and neurotypical people alike.
Autism — that’s being able to count matches really fast and knowing that 7 August 1984 was a Tuesday, right? Well, no. In this book, Bianca Toeps explains in great detail what life is like when you’re autistic. She does this by looking at what science says about autism (and why some theories can go straight in the bin), but also by telling her own story and interviewing other people with autism. Bianca talks in a refreshing and sometimes hilarious way about different situations autistic people encounter in daily life. She has some useful tips for non-autistic people too: what you should do if someone prefers not to look you in the eye, why it is sometimes better to communicate by email, and, most important of all, why it is not a compliment if you say: “But you don’t look autistic at all!”
How To Be Autistic charts Charlotte Amelia Poe’s journey through schooldays and young adulthood, with chapters on food, fandom, depression, body piercing, comic conventions, and technology. Poe writes about her memoir: ‘The best way to describe it is to imagine a road trip. If a neurotypical person wants to get from A to B, then they will most often find their way unobstructed, without road works or diversions. For an autistic person, they will find that they are having to use back roads and cut across fields and explore places neurotypicals would never even imagine visiting’. How To Be Autistic challenges narratives of autism as something to be ‘fixed’, as Poe believes her autism is a fundamental aspect of her work. She writes: ‘I wanted to show the side of autism that I have lived through, the side you don’t find in books and on Facebook groups. My piece is a story about survival, fear and, finally, hope. It is an open letter to every autistic person who has suffered verbal, mental or physical abuse and come out snarling and alive. ‘If I can change just one person’s perceptions, if I can help one person with autism feel like they’re less alone, then this will all be worth it. So please, turn the page. Our worlds are about to collide.’
Supporting Transgender Autistic Youth and Adults: A Guide for Professionals and Families by Finn V. Gratton
Providing advice on how professionals working with autistic trans youth and adults can tailor their practice to best serve their clients and how parents can support their trans autistic children, this book increases awareness of the large overlap between trans identities and autism. By including chapters on gender diversity basics, neuroqueer trauma and how to support neuroqueer individuals, this book sets out strategies for creating more effective support that takes into account the unique experiences of trans people on the spectrum. Written by a therapist who identifies as neuroqueer, this book is the perfect companion for professionals who want to increase their knowledge of the experiences and needs of their trans autistic clients.
A literary omnivore and influential Bookstagrammer, Layne applies her vivid creativity for every title we promote by deftly coordinating news coverage and events for authors, writing and editing diverse content for social media, and assisting with Books Forward’s social media engagement initiatives.
As a former special education teacher, Layne firmly believes in the importance of literature and accessibility. This unique point of view is an asset in her publicity efforts as she works to reach readers across various platforms and demographics.
Layne received her Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing and Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and her Masters of Art in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. She lives in New Orleans with her loyal, but sadly illiterate cat, Macaroni.