There have been thousands of books written about autism. They include hundreds of books written by persons with autism, hundreds of books written for children, books on high functioning autism, picture books about autism, books for autism parents, books with autistic characters, books written from the perspective of a child with autism, and on and on. There are even websites that provide guidance on how to write books about autism.
But my aggressive search has found only seven books written for autism grandparents. I’ve now read all seven, and following are my brief comments. The seventh book is the best.
Autism & the Grandparent Connection, Practical Ways to Understand and Help Your Grandchild with Autism Spectrum Disorder, by Jennifer Krumins, Autism Aspirations, 2010, 235 pages
The author is knowledgeable, credentialed, and has first-person empathy, but the book reads like a long-day back-and-forth-between-topics discourse. Dip into the book anywhere and you’ll find good stuff, but you may also find information on the same topic 50 pages distant. The book has helpful charts and lists and personal stories and guidance, etc., but – and this is a nice way to say it – everything is abundantly flavored with the author’s heartfelt thoughts and feelings. The book is 8 ½ x 11 inches - the same size as standard paper. It looks like a manuscript fresh off the printer without benefit of a book designer, and thus is more cumbersome to read than if it were designed in a read-friendly manner. Also there are proofreading errors throughout.
Helping Grandparents Understand Autism, by Dr. Linda Barboa and Jan Luck, KIP Educational Materials, 2020, 23 pages
This slim book (with lots of white space) offers some very good basic tidbits about autism, all of which can be helpful for anyone who is just beginning to learn – but very little of which seems to be written specifically for grandparents. A full five pages are filled with a list of autism terms and acronyms and their meanings: “Auditory: The sense of hearing.” “Calming Skills: Persons with autism may need to be taught skills to calm themselves,” and so on.
REVOLUTIONARY GRANDPARENTS, GENERATIONS HEALING AUTISM WITH LOVE AND HOPE, collected by Helen Conroy and Lisa Joyce Goes, Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 166 pages
The book’s Foreword states that vaccinations cause autism. The Introduction states that autism is a “disease” that can be cured. In the book’s first chapter the authors state their mistrust of the medical/science community. The book features “Nineteen Stories from Extraordinary Families.” The book is sincere and heartfelt but its challenge is in its dismissal of scientific research.
Your Special Grandchild, by Josie Santomauro, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009, 48 pages
This little book is a poorly written hodgepodge of information, but it has its moments. For example, there is a good list of mannerisms that are common among persons with autism, some good information about the grief process that often follows an autism diagnosis, good comments from persons with autism, and a variety of good tips regarding autism.
GRANDPARENTS & Young Children with AUTISM, by Susan Louise Peterson, self-published, 2016, 35 pages
The value of this book is questionable. It briefly – very briefly - touches on some random aspects regarding autism, and does so with random organization. For example, the “section” on tantrums reads as follows (in total): “Tantrums: A tantrum can be a characteristic of autism as a grandchild resists a change of routine, but it can also be seen in a sick child. A grandchild who wants to go home may tantrum because he or she wants to rest or go to bed.”
What Does the Squirrel See? A Grandparent’s Guide to the Autistic Grandchild, by C.B. Brown, United Resource Books, 2018, 108 pages
My favorite thing about this book is the projects and activities that you can do with autistic children. They are sprinkled throughout and then there is a whole section at the end. The book contains lots of wonderful information – much of it directed specifically to grandparents - but it is not organized in a way that makes sense to me, and much of it, while appropriate for one child with autism, doesn’t adequately address the wide variety of autism. For example, the “Making New Friends” section begins with this: “When you go someplace with people he doesn’t know well, patiently reassure him. As you smile and say hello to a new friend or relative, encourage him to wave to the person.” The book also presents some checklists and lists of bullet points that, when taken as a whole are a bit much, but when carefully considered item by item can be instructive. Again, the very valuable part of this book is the projects and activities that it presents.
Grandparent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders, Making the Most of the Time at Nana’s House,by Nancy Mucklow, AAPC Publishing, 2012, 128 pages
This is the perfect book for autism grandparents. The author knows her stuff and she’s walked the walk. It can be helpful for all varieties of autism – which means that there are portions of the book that will be especially relevant and helpful to each specific autism grandparent. My advice is to read the book with a yellow highlighter handy to highlight the portions that apply to your situation. Following is a review that I published earlier:
I’ve read a bunch of books on autism, and a clear favorite has now emerged: the 128-page Grandparent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders by Nancy Mucklow. My thought is that everyone – autism families, autism friends, autism professionals, the general public – can benefit greatly from this easy-to-read, easy-to-apply-to-your-own-life guide.
I love the book’s upbeat, encouraging, hope-filled tone – a tone that permeates even the book’s attention to the most challenging and disheartening aspects of autism. And I love the book’s theme of practicality – the constant message that problems and challenges can’t always be solved right now: “Sometimes the right thing to do is to just let it go,” and “Some issues can wait for another day.”
Susan J. Moreno, CEO and founder, OASIS@MAAP says this: “This is a must-read for grandparents, their children, and all teachers, counselors and support staff who work with individuals on the autism spectrum. All levels of functioning and a cornucopia of circumstances are addressed.”
A challenge for any book on autism is how to organize it. Nancy Mucklow has organized this book in a wonderfully engaging and readable manner. There are nine chapters, but the book’s organizational brilliance is in its four categories of materials that are sprinkled throughout.
One category is short autism stories that illustrate certain areas. For example, the book’s first page tells how three-year-old Leisa’s grandparents reacted to Leisa’s diagnosis and began their interaction with her.
Another category is called “Quick Tips,” such as “Quick Tips for Dealing with a Meltdown.” I’ve found every Quick Tip in the book not only helpful, but also revealing of the author’s deep understanding and personal experience. (She’s an autism grandparent herself.)
A third category isn’t named, but I’ll call it “Boxed Information.” Sprinkled in appropriate places throughout the book are boxes containing special information with titles such as, “How to Respond to Friends who say ‘What’s Wrong with Him?’” or “What If You Don’t Agree With What the Parents Are Doing.” I love some of the guidance in this specific box, such as, “Remember that the parents are doing this for the first time too, so your support will be much appreciated,” and “Your job is to support their decisions and make the child’s life as calm and happy as possible.”
And the fourth category is one that I simply call “Charts.” For example, there is an annotated chart that lists all of the senses (taste, touch, vision, etc.) and lists the various ways that a child with ASD may either seek or avoid each sense. Another example is a chart that’s titled, “Common Communication Challenges In Children With ASD,” that lists and describes the causes and emanations of those challenges.
I’ve found a great way to enhance the book’s benefit to me. I’ve highlighted everything that relates to my situation. For example, Angelina doesn’t have depression or pessimism, so the part of the book that deals with that isn’t highlighted. But the book’s box entitled, “The Ten-Minute Tidy-Up,” is highlighted.
And finally, the book offers an analogy that can possibly be beneficial for everyone’s overall understanding of autism: autism is a cat living in a dog’s world. (At least for everyone who is familiar with the ways that dogs and cats see and relate to the world.)
I bought my copy on Amazon for $18.55.