Autism for Friends

The books in this section are intended to be read with the peers of autistic children–classmates, neighbors, cousins, and anyone else who has the opportunity to play with an autistic child. They encourage authentic inclusion and kindness. I wish there were more good books on this topic. I will be keeping an eye out!

A Friend for Henry

Written by Jenn Bailey
Illustrated by Mika Song
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a really lovely read for children who are autistic and interested in making friends, as well as children who are not autistic but who struggle with inflexibility around rules (e.g., sharing) and literal interpretations (e.g., challenges with imaginary play). It aligns with a child who is feeling frustrated with the behavior of their peers who don’t always follow the rules or act logically, and it compassionately helps children to consider what they might look for in a friend, and how a bit of flexibility may help with this. This book could also be a good read for the peers of an autistic child who could use a reminder that their autistic classmate’s perspective is valid and that many friendships are forged on shared interests.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is great for the siblings of autistic girls, who are very underrepresented in children’s literature about autism. It validates the challenges of having an autistic sibling while highlighting love and connection between the siblings. It particularly supports conversations about what to do if a friend rejects an autistic sibling and presents a model of what inclusive play might look like. The book explicitly states that Leah is “autistic.”
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book, written by an autistic author, is a celebration of parallel play and perspective taking, and it is excellent for the peers or siblings of autistic children who are minimally verbal and/or who prefer parallel play (i.e., playing side-by-side but independently) to cooperative play. This story models non-patronizing, inclusive play and encourages kids to learn to play in ways that are fun for everyone.