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Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Autistic Authors, Featuring Autistic Characters

Are you looking for books for children or teens that feature autistic characters? The following authors are all autistic themselves and highlight autistic and neurodiverse individuals in their writings. The book descriptions are adapted from the author's website, unless noted otherwise. Please note that there may not be an autistic character in every work by these authors.

Tiffany Hammond

A Day With No Words invites readers into the life of an autism family who communicate without spoken language. This colorful picture book shares what life can look like for families who use nonverbal communication, utilizing tools to embrace different methods of "speaking." Told from the perspective on a nonspeaking boy, "A Day With No Words" provides insights into the child’s thoughts. The story highlights the bond between mother and child and follows them on a day where they use a tablet to communicate with others. Young child picture book

Ivelisse Housman

Unseelie follows the adventures of changeling Seelie and her human twin as they embark upon the heist of a lifetime for a mystery legacy. As they evade capture by both human and fae forces, Seelie discovers more about her own autistic identity, her magical powers, and love along the way. Young adult fantasy

Mike Jung

“Thrown” is a short-story featured in the middle grade anthology The Hero Next Door, which showcases a collection of stories about diverse everyday heroes. In “Thrown,” Stevie is an 11-year-old martial-arts students. When Stevie gets promoted to the teen-and-adults akido class, he gets to train under a new sensei, who is autistic, just like him. Middle-grade short story (Description based on various reviews.)

The Boys in the Back Row. Best friends Matt and Eric are hatching a plan for one big final adventure together before Eric moves away: During the marching band competition at a Giant Amusement Park, they will sneak away to a nearby comics convention and meet their idol — a famous comic creator. Without cell phones. Or transportation. Or permission. Of course, their final adventure together is more than just that — really, it’s a way for the boys to celebrate their friendship, and their honest love and support for one another. Middle-grade novel

Unidentified Suburban Object. The next person who compares Chloe Cho with famous violinist Abigail Yang is going to HEAR it. Chloe has just about had it with people not knowing the difference between someone who’s Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. She’s had it with people thinking that everything she does well — getting good grades, winning first chair in the orchestra — are because she’s ASIAN. Of course, her own parents don’t want to have anything to do with their Korean background. Then a new teacher comes to town: Ms. Lee. She’s Korean American, and for the first time Chloe has a person to talk to who seems to understand completely. Middle-grade novel

Sarah Kapit

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen stars Vivy Cohen, an autistic 11-year-old who loves baseball. Vivy throws a wicked knuckleball, but fears that she’ll never get the chance to pitch in a real game. She writes to her idol, MLB pitcher VJ Capello, about her life and frustrations. Then, two very exciting things happen: Vivy gets recruited to join a team, and VJ writes back to her. Middle-grade reader

The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family focuses on two autistic sisters, Lara and Caroline. Caroline uses AAC to communicate. Lara, a mystery novel aficionado, starts her own detective agency with Caroline as junior detective. In uncovering family secrets, the girls find more than they bargained for and must confront their relationship to each other. Middle-grade reader

Second Chance Summer Maddie and Chloe have always been best friends, until last year, when Chloe’s popularity and budding fame as an actor left Maddie in the dust one too many times. But when the girls arrive at summer camp, they discover that the universe isn’t ready to let go of this friendship just yet: They’re cabinmates, and each of them has to spend the summer with her ex–best friend. Is it time to try again, or are they doomed to drift apart for good?Middle-grade reader  

(Descriptions based on Sarah Kapit’s interview in The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.)

Ido Kedar

In Two Worlds. Seven-year-old Anthony has autism. He flaps his hands. He makes strange noises. He can’t speak or otherwise communicate his thoughts. Treatments, therapies, and theories about his condition define his daily existence. Yet Anthony isn’t improving much. Year after year his remedial lessons drone on. Anthony gets older and taller, but his speech remains elusive and his school lessons never advance. Life seems to be passing him by. Until one day, everything changes. Written by a nonspeaking autistic young adult, this novel sheds light on the inner and outer lives of children with nonspeaking autism. Young adult/Adult novel

Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Moonwalking. Co-authored with the award-winning poet and novelist Zetta Elliott, this verse novel is set in Brooklyn in 1982. It portrays the unlikely friendship between Afro-Latinx science geek and aspiring graffiti artist Pierre “Pie” Velez and autistic white punk rock enthusiast Joseph John “JJ” Pankowski as their love of art helps them through difficult times in a world that seeks to silence them. Middle-grade novel

Torch. In this historical fiction novel set in 1969 Czechoslovakia, the totalitarian government investigates three misfit boys when a friend of theirs sets himself on fire to the protest foreign occupation. Among these boys is Tomáš, who has already been accused of “antisocial” behavior because he struggles to follow the unwritten rules of everyday interactions. Now he must work even harder to meet the expectations of his father, the regional leader of the communist party. Young adult novel

Rogue. Eighth-grader Kiara, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has a difficult time making friends. Most of the time, she relies on Mr. Internet — her go-to when the world doesn’t make sense — and her imagination, where she daydreams that she’s Rogue, one of the mutant superheroes of the X-Men. In the comics, Rogue hurts anyone she touches, but eventually learns to control her special power. When 12-year-old Chad moves in across the street, Kiara hopes that, for once, she’ll be able to make friendship stick. She’s even willing to keep Chad’s secrets and help him do something she knows is wrong, if that’s what it takes. Middle-grade novel

Sally J. Pla

Benji, The Bad Day, and Me. Nothing seems to be going right for Sammy. After he walks home in the pouring rain, he finds his autistic little brother Benji is having a bad day too. On days like this, Benji has a special play-box where he goes to feel cozy and safe. Sammy doesn’t have a special place, and he’s convinced no one cares how he feels or even notices him. But somebody is noticing, and may just have an idea on how to help Sammy feel better. Picture book

The Someday Birds. Charlie is a bird-obsessed autistic boy who loves his orderly life at home. But his war-injured dad now lies in a hospital room across the country, and Charlie’s compelled by his siblings to find a way to get to him. Along the way, Charlie decides to spot all the birds that he and his dad had hoped to see together someday. Their journey takes many unexpected twists, as Charlie discovers that “sometimes the birds you look for… are not the birds you find.” Middle-grade novel

The Fire, The Water, and Maudie McGinn. Maudie is a sweet, sensitive autistic girl who has social and sensory issues. She also has a new stepdad, one who gets so confused and frustrated by her behavior, his anger gets out of control. Her self-esteem and confidence plunges. This is the story of Maudie’s profound journey back to safety and self-worth. Middle-grade novel (Available July 11, 2023)

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