Holding a conversation or recognizing facial expressions may seem natural, but kids with autism struggle with these skills that many take for granted. In fact, kids with autism often face difficulties processing emotions or sensory input. Luckily, there are several books for kids with autism that can help them learn about emotions, communication, and social cues.
Children with autism often have difficulty regulating emotional behavior and understanding social cues. Granted, emotional regulation is a struggle for many kids (and plenty of adults), but children with autism spectrum disorder tend to struggle with recognizing and understanding certain emotions, according to Raising Children Network. This emotional difficulty may also impact their ability to socialize. In addition, many people with autism struggle to understand facial expressions or hold eye contact, according to Medical Daily. When all of these struggles are taken into account, simply navigating a classroom or a birthday party can prove exceptionally stressful for these kids.
To help children with autism navigate these social and emotional complexities, there are excellent resources in books. Some of the books offer gentle explanations about social skills. Others are fictional stories about kids who successfully navigate a social situation or deal with disappointing emotions. Basically, these reads can help kids with autism respond to common difficulties in a positive way.
1'Armond Goes To A Party' by Nancy Carlson
Parties are supposed to be fun, but the noises, distractions, and crowds can make some kids on the spectrum feel uneasy. In Armond Goes To A Party by Nancy Carlson, the title character learns how to navigate the party atmosphere. By acknowledging his feelings, and giving Armond a break every now and then, the adults in his life help him attend his friend's event.
2'The Asperkid's Secret Book Of Social Rules' by Jennifer Cook O'Toole
The tween years are socially tough for almost everyone, but kids with autism may have particular difficulties navigating these times. The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules by Jennifer Cook O'Toole explains crucial social cues to kids with Asperger's syndrome. It's a practical guide covers everything from using social media wisely to accepting compliments with grace. Best of all, the guide is written in a friendly way that isn't patronizing or dull.
3'My Book Full Of Feelings' by Amy Jaffe & Luci Gardner
Navigating the emotional world can be tricky for most everyone, especially kids who have autism. An interactive workbook, My Book Full Of Feelings by Amy Jaffe and Luci Gardner helps kids recognize and express emotions more clearly. Kids can learn how to keep emotional responses in perspective, and to work on managing meltdowns.
4'The Conversation Train' by Joel Shaul
Getting a conversation started, and staying on topic, can be challenging for some kids with autism. The Conversation Train by Joel Shaul explains the parts of conversation in a straightforward way, accompanied by helpful visuals. Plus, the metaphor is spot-on: a sudden topic change in conversation can feel like a derailed train.
5'My Day Is Ruined!' by Bryan Smith
It's easy for some kids to get stuck in a negative thinking loop. In My Day Is Ruined! by Bryan Smith, the main character Braden experiences crushing disappointment when his much-anticipated baseball game gets rained out. Braden learns some lessons about flexible thinking, and how to stop meltdowns.
6'A Little Book About Feelings' by Abbie Schiller & Sam Kurtzman-Counter
If your child with autism needs some help understanding emotions, this book may be the perfect resource. A Little Book About Feelings by Abbie Schiller & Sam Kurtzman-Counter uses felt characters to explain basic emotional literacy. It explains feelings in a straightforward, kid-friendly way.
7'The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control' by Lauren Brukner
This book can be a game-changer for parents of kids with sensory issues. The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control by Lauren Brukner is all about emotional and sensory regulation. Tips about breathing exercises, fidgets, and even noise-reducing headphones can help your kid find the life hacks that work for them.
8'The Kraken's Rules For Making Friends' by Brittany R. Jacobs
With some help from a great white shark, the kraken learns how to stop being lonely and start making friends. The Kraken's Rules For Making Friends by Brittany R. Jacobs offers thoughtful lessons about what it means to be a good friend. Hey, even sea monsters need buddies.
9'Making Friends Is An Art!' by Julia Cook
Even pencils can get lonely. With Making Friends Is An Art! by Julia Cook, kids can learn real-life skills in friendship building. Socialization is a skill like any other.
10'The Social Skills Picture Book' by Jed Baker
How can kids on the spectrum learn to navigate complex social situations? The Social Skills Picture Book by Jed Baker uses photographs of kids in real-life social situations to teach appropriate reactions. It can act as a sort of study guide for the real world.
11'Understanding Myself' by Mary C. Lamia
Emotions can be tricky for some kids with autism to navigate (and to be honest, basically everyone else in the world, too). Understanding Myself by Mary C. Lamia explains 18 distinct feelings in an engaging, interesting read. It can help kids label and understand emotions in themselves and others.
12'Personal Space Camp' by Julia Cook
Broaching the topic of personal space can be difficult for some kids who have autism, as they sometimes struggle with impulse control. Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook approaches the idea of personal space in a humorous, relatable way. The character Louis, who knows all about outer space, has a lot to learn about other people's physical boundaries.
13'Squirmy Wormy' by Lynda Farrington Wilson
Many kids with autism also experience sensory processing disorder (SPD), which can make daily activities feel overwhelming. Squirmy Wormy by Lynda Farrington Wilson follows the adventures of Tyler, who learns all sorts of coping techniques for his sensory issues. Whether it's by running fast or burrowing into the couch cushions, Tyler knows how to help himself feel better.