50 best special education books is a resource for parents, educators, and children. This collection of books is a compilation of literature that aims to:

  • give you a glimpse at the history of special education
  • guide you through difficulty with practical research-based advice
  • inspire you when you are at a place wondering “what do I do next”
  • relate to you in difficult times and beautiful moments
  • empower you when advocating for your child
  • amaze you at the true grit and tenacity of these individuals with exceptional minds

Sarah Ambrose is a graduate from UCL Institute of Education, the co-founder of NOLArts Learning Center and has been teaching music to young people with autism and other exceptionalities in New Orleans, Louisiana for six years.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

After ten years of research and over 300 interviews comes Andrew Solomon’s colossal work Far From the Tree. Solomon himself recognized from an early age that he was somehow different and has spent his life’s work searching for meaning and “forging identity” through life’s deepest most engulfing trials. This story is for anyone who has struggled but mainly focuses on stories of how families adapt and adjust to accommodate their lives for children with physical, mental, and social differences. He writes about disabilities including:

  • autism spectrum disorders
  • Down syndrome
  • deaf culture
  • dwarfism

This 700-page book will not be a quick read but a terrific opportunity to live life through the eyes of all types of minds through their trials and through their triumphs.


NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

NeuroTribes is a groundbreaking book that provides a sweeping history of autism spectrum disorders and reads like a thrilling detective novel. From monk scribes to the geniuses of Silicon Valley, many people throughout history have and had what we currently call autism. Steve Silberman looks at autism historically and genetically. The neurodiversity movement is at the core of Silberman’s writing as he emphasizes that he wants to “suggest a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.” This book will be a terrific resource on anyone’s shelf and especially valuable for those who are interested in rethinking ways each individual can be integrated into society. Silberman writes “society should regard [autism] as a valuable part of humanity’s genetic legacy.”

The Child Who Never Grew by Pearl S. Buck

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck wrote this personal account of her daughter who grew up to have an intellectual day. The Child Who Never Grew was originally published in 1950 and is about Carol, Buck’s daughter who was born in 1920 and later had an intellectual delay. This memoir is considered a landmark in the field of special education, as it was the first time a public figure had discussed what otherwise was a proscribed topic of the day. Though written over 60 years ago, the emotions still resonate for parents today. This book is a helpful look back to the past to see how far special education has come for people who learn differently. The Child Who Never Grew would be a terrific book to have in a collection for any parent with a child with exceptionalities.

The Siege: A Family’s Journey Into the World of an Autistic Child by Clara Claiborne Park

In 1967 Clara Claiborne Park wrote this break-through novel, The Siege about her daughter, Jessey who was diagnosed with autism. This book is monumental as Park dismissed the popular understanding of autism at the time; the “refrigerator mom” or inadequate nurturing that was used to explain children who were autistic. Park chooses to forge her own path into treating and loving her daughter. The Siege served as one of the great books for special education teachers and therapists and guided the world towards a new way of viewing autism spectrum disorders.

Verbal Behavior by B.F. Skinner

Conceived almost entirely theoretically, B.F. Skinner, also known as the grandfather of behavior science, pins principles of behavior on language. At the time it was written, the notion of language as a behavior that is shaped through the environment was utterly inconceivable. However, Skinner’s then theory has, over the recent decade, become a common teaching tool for practitioners of applied behavior analysis. This special education academic read is often reserved for the higher education classroom but would be an enriching addition to anyone who is seeking to teach language skills as well as anyone who wants a different perspective on linguistics.

In Schools for Parents

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy- The Special Education Survivor Guide 2nd Edition by Pam Wright and Pete Wright

In 1963 Martin Luther King had a dream and in 2004 the United States had an IDEA; that is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. However, we all know that dreams and ideas are just those without advocates to make them a reality. From Emotions to Advocacy helps parents to navigate all the way from the basic skills of advocacy to becoming the “parent as expert” to writing smart IEP goals, understanding IDEA all the way to tactics and strategies to make your voices heard. This special education book should be on the bookshelf of every parent who has a son or daughter with a disability. Advocacy can be frustrating and often times overwhelming, sometimes the special education system almost encourages the family to settle for less. If you’re not willing to settle but need the tools to make your voice heard, snatch this book up immediately.

Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work: An Insider Guide by Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves

Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work is one of the best books on special education for parents navigating the American school system for their child. It covers everything from IDEA to FAPE, and IEPs.   The book runs chronologically from diagnosis to the transition out of high school. Judith and Carson Graves leave no stone unturned covering everything a parent would encounter in the special education system.

Knowledge is power.  As a parent of a son or daughter with special needs, this is one of the most powerful special ed books on your bookshelf. Public education is terrifying for most parents as the promises of IDEA 2004 often are incompatible with things like the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Graves and Graves will make sure that no parent is left behind. Pick up and share this phenomenal resource today!

Lost at School: Why Our Kids With Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them by Ross W. Greene

Doctor Ross Greene is a child psychologist who writes about solutions for problematic behavior that is currently prevalent in schools and special education programs. He originated the collaborative problem-solving approach, which is now known as Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS). Greene provides tools such as real life examples and templates as well as guidance on how to approach new ways of teaching children with problem behavior. Greene also suggests ways to collaborate with:

  • professionals
  • parents
  • students

This is not considered to be a cure-all approach to fixing problem behaviors, but it certainly addressed a core issue.  When there is a skill deficit, that deficit needs to be identified and targeted for change in conjunction with negative behavior change. This book would work well for principles, special education teachers, and parents.  As suggested in Greene’s methodology– it’s collaborative.

Special Education Teachers Resources

Teaching Motor Skills to Children with Cerebral Palsy And Similar Movement Disorders: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Sieglinde Martin

This is a phenomenal resource for special education teachers and parents. Along with descriptions of the exercises, the book includes illustrations of each movement with photos often with variations differentiated by skill level. This book is for any family who wants a comprehensive understanding of cerebral palsy and an outline of what to expect developmentally. Each movement exercise is broken down into specific areas such as:

  • head control
  • proper positioning
  • muscle tone
  • involuntary movements

The book emphasizes the necessity of developing movement through physical therapy outside of the home and incorporating that learning into the home.

Essential for Living by Patrick McGreevy, Troy Fry, and Coleen Cornwall

Essential for Living is a communication, behavior, and functional skills assessment curriculum and skills-tracking tool for children and adults with moderate to severe disabilities. This curriculum includes must-have skills, should have, good-to-have, and nice-to-have skills within each “domain”. Chapters are broken down by skills and within those skills domains are delegated. Chapter 7 focuses on the skill-set of speaking and listening. The domains within that skill-set includes:

  • making requests
  • waiting
  • making transitions
  • accepting no

Essential For Living is perfect for families, special education teachers, and other practitioners who are looking to create obtainable measurable skills for IEPs.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners by Carol Ann Tomlison

Classrooms today are more diverse than ever and include children of all backgrounds and learning styles. Classrooms are connected to technology more than ever before. How can educators adapt their pedagogy, remain relevant, and reach learners of a variety of backgrounds and learning abilities? The answer comes in this word: differentiation. In The Differentiated Classroom, Carol Ann Tomlison, explains that teachers still face the same challenges teachers faced in the one-room schoolhouse and engages the reader to tackle these challenges through strategy and planning. Tomlison shows educators how to build a curriculum that includes differentiation and provides helpful portraits or “snap shots” of real-life scenarios in classrooms today. This book is excellent for any special education or general education teacher who is seeking a user-friendly book to reference for including differentiation in their lessons.

Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom by David A. Sousa & Carol Ann Tomlinson

Regardless of ability, an educator and as is argued in Differentiation and the Brain, the student are the stewards who ensure that each individual can learn. Accommodating a classroom of different-style learners with varying ability levels can look like a daunting task. Do you have to double your time spent lesson planning? David A. Sousa and Carol Ann Tomlinson argue to plan “smarter” and thus more effectively.

Differentiation and the Brain uses language that is accessible to the reader.  The book backing claims with findings in neuroscience and encourages educators at all levels to approach how children learn with fresh eyes. This relevant book will serve as a perfect resource for educators who are striving to provide sound education for all types of learners.

Handwriting Without Tears by Emily F. Knapton

Handwriting Without Tears is more than just a book. It’s a curriculum for creative ways to teach learners to write. A box of goodies arrives, and the learner engages with the sometimes-pedantic task of writing in a fun new way. Handwriting Without Tears provides chalk slates and sticks and curves while using a clear system to show learners where to start and stop when creating lines and curves and ultimately forming letter, numbers, and words. Learners are encouraged to:

  • trace with a wet sponge
  • use their fingers in sand
  • build letters with curves and lines on surfaces

There’s even an app Wet Dry Try that encourages learners to follow the same model on a tablet. Handwriting without Tears materials are extensive and differentiated for learners at all handwriting stages.

Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd Edition) by John O. Cooper, Timothy E. Heron, and William L. Heward

This is a reference book for the field of applied behavior analysis. Applied behavior analysis aims to change behaviors on a scale which is deemed as socially significant i.e., impacting a wide community of people including people with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities as well as the homeless community, veterans and many others. John O. Cooper, Timothy E. Heron, and William L. Heward wrote the comprehensive text on principles of behavior analysis. Cooper, Heron, and Heward cover a range of topics from reinforcement to ethics. Applied Behavior Analysis, reads much like a textbook but is not overly technical so would be accessible to anyone who is looking to learn about behavior science. The second edition includes chapters on verbal behavior, functional behavior assessment, and others. This book is essential for any practitioner in the field of applied behavior analysis and could be used as a reference for parents as well.


An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks

Written ten years after A Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, neurologist Oliver Sacks writes An Anthropologist on Mars about seven medical case studies including:

  • “The Case of the Colorblind Painter”
  • “The Last Hippie”– a man whose massive brain tumor prevents him from remembering anything that occurs after the later 1960’s
  • “A Surgeon’s Life” about a surgeon with Tourette’s syndrome
  • “To See and Not to See” about a man whose site recovers
  • “The Landscape of His Dreams” the story of an Italian man and his visualizations of his village

He also wrote two stories about autistic people including “Prodigies” about an autistic savant and artist who draws landscapes after seeing them once, and “An Anthropologies on Mars” about Temple Grandin. This book is a fantastic collection of essays suitable for anyone interested in neuroscience, diversity, and humanity.

A Great Book For Dads

Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier

“A parent’s love is unconditional. A parent’s satisfaction comes with caveats,” writes political journalist Ron Fournier about parenting his son Tyler who happens to have Asperger’s. Fournier’s story is about the challenges of parenting. Love That Boy is an inspirational book for fathers (for once) and discusses “wants” that stem often from corporations, media, and general societal pressures verses parental “needs”. In the first part of Love That Boy Fournier cites normalcy, popularity, and success as a few parental “wants” and grit, empathy, and acceptance as “needs”. Love That Boy is a great choice for parents who are looking for a new type of compass towards the journey of parenting.


Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant

Uniquely Human is a must-read for parents with autistic children. Barry M. Prizant pulls in 40 years of personal experience and expertise as well as research when talking about asset-focused learning for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Rather than labeling an action as “just a behavior” Prizant detects the reasons or the why behind the behavior. Prizant highlights therapists who have the “It” factor– a characteristic he describes as a natural ability to observe and work with unique learners. Creativity and fun are at the core of this book. Hope and a new approach can be found in the pages of Uniquely Human. Though this book is focused on autism, it would be a fantastic resource for persons with other exceptionalities. Uniquely Human is one of the top special education books for teachers, parents, therapists, and principles interested in understanding the unique autistic mind.

Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin

“The world needs all types of minds,” says author, professor and autism spokeswoman Temple Grandin. In Thinking in Pictures – Grandin illustrates her perspective as a woman living with autism. Considering words to be her second-language and visual “mind movies” her first, Grandin provokes the reader to glimpse insights from a new perspective.  She aims to describe her experiences with autism while explaining how visual thinking is an advantage in her career in the livestock industry. “Visual thinking has enabled me to build entire systems in my imagination,” writes Grandin. For those interested in different learning styles, neurodiversity, and exploring asset-based solutions to living with autism, this book is a great place to start.

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking by Julia Bascom

Loud Hands is a collection of essays written by and for autistic people. The collection begins at the dawn of the neurodiversity movement and follows through to present day. This book will shift your perspective of autism as the experts–the autistic community, write it. A greater movement has emerged since the dawn of neurodiversity and it is palpable. Julia Bascom advocate and founder of the Loud Hands Project shares a memory: “I also remember being 15 and scared and looking at people saying some very big and terrifying things about me, and then going online and finding other people like me, who were writing for themselves. And I don’t think they meant it to, but their writing changed my life. Their writing told me I could have a life.” This book is perfect for advocates and parents!

Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

“I needed to stop forcing myself into something I could never be apart of,” John Elder Robison writes in his charismatic, heart-felt memoir of growing up with undiagnosed high functioning autism, known widely as Asperger’s Syndrome. Robison chronicles, through both hilarious and plagued anecdotes, what it means to forge a truly unique and gripping identity. Look Me in the Eye is a great read not just for people interested in how an individual lived his life with Asperger’s Syndrome but also for anyone looking for a captivating story appealing to triumph over tragedy.

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism by Naoki Higashida

Naoki Higashida’s book The Reason I Jump is an opportunity to gain very rare insight into living with autism. Written from the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy living without expressive language, Higashida answers questions and welcomes the reader to explore the world from his unique perspective. This book is a very quick read and will be a welcome breath of fresh air for parents, educators, or anyone who is seeking a bigger understanding of what it means to be human. Higashida asks, “Can you imagine what your life would be if you couldn’t talk?”

Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism’s Silent Prison by Ido Kedar

Author and advocate Ido Kedar, describes his book Ido in Autismland as a diary. He was “trapped” in a silent prison until learning to type on a keyboard. “The hardest part of autism is the communication challenge. I feel depressed often by my inability to speak. I talk in my mind, but my mind doesn’t talk to my mouth. It’s frustrating even though I can communicate by pointing now. Before I could, it was like a solitary confinement,” writes Kedar. He describes being subjected to painstaking repetitive drills with word cards regardless of the fact that he had already taught himself to read. He describes loneliness and wanting to express his emotions. At times a painful read, this book remains extremely hopeful and enlightening for parents who have non-verbal children. This is a worthy read of anyone who wants a unique glimpse into the world of “Autismland” and anyone seeking an alternative means for teaching communication.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy: A Complete Guide for Caregiving second edition by Freeman Miller & Steven J. Bacharach et. al

Cerebral Palsy is comprehensive. This book, as is made clear in the forward, is not tailored treatment for individuals but rather a collection of information about cerebral palsy. This book covers everything from the definition of cerebral palsy broken down into varying types, what the health care system could look like; as well as advocacy. Freeman Miller and Steven J. Bacharach et. al, even explain how to care for the caregiver– an area often overlooked in the field of special education. You will find information on how to give treatments to individuals including tube feeding and even purchasing the right kind of adaptive equipment for the individual. This book is easy to understand and informative. It is an absolute must-have reference for any parent or caregiver with a child or student with cerebral palsy.

Trapped: My Life With Cerebral Palsy by Fran Macilvey

“The only thing to do with tears is water your flowers with them, so that there is something to show the world when the sun comes out,” writes Fran Macilvey in her memoire Trapped. Fran Macilvey was born in Belgian Congo in the 1960’s. She was the second of twins unbeknownst to the doctors at the time. As a result, Fran was born an hour later and with cerebral palsy. Macilvey writes about a life of anger, depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as triumphs that occur over and over again. Macilvey doesn’t allow for physical or mental impairments to keep her down but rather she bounces back again and again in this gripping and personal story of living with cerebral palsy.

Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy by John W. Quinn

This is a truly inspirational book written by a man with cerebral palsy. Regardless of his diagnosis John W. Quinn hid this fact and had a 20-year career in the military. After his first attempt to enter the military he was told “no” and then forwent one year of physical therapy. He never gave up and never took no for an answer. This is a book about triumph and gave Quinn an opportunity to finally tell the truth. Quinn writes, “My story tells of the secret life I led… it feels good to finally tell the truth.” Someone Like Meis a great find for anyone who has ever been told “no” or “you can’t” and truly motivates the reader to think otherwise.


Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It by Gabor Mate

Physician and columnist Gabor Mate approaches an explanation for ADD differently in that his prime focus is not on genetics but rather disposition. Mate describes a world where environmental factors play as much a role in ADD as does a predisposition. He notes the world can often be hostile. Mate is practical in his advice in that he is not set out to point the reader in a direction of a cure nor is he a doomsayer, he merely points the reader into the direction of how to live with and make the most of life with ADD. This book is scientific and it is comprehensive but it is not overly daunting for any reader who wants to gain a fresh insight into ADD. The most exciting take away personally was his insight into motivation and socialization for young people with ADD. If you or someone you know suffers from AD/HD pick up a copy immediately!

Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell M.D. and John J. Ratey M.D.

In many ways Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) has become a controversial topic through recent years. How exactly can it be defined? Are children being given unnecessary medication as a knee jerk response to symptoms that present like ADD? In Delivered From Distraction Dr. Edward M. Hallowell and Dr. John J. Ratey give the most up-to-date information on the diagnosis, new drugs that have come on the market and how they may or may not work for everyone. Hallow and Ratey also highlight positive ways that people with ADD can reveal their fun quirky and often gifted personalities.

Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting A Child With ADHD by Penny Williams

International book award winner and parent to a son with ADHD Penny Williams brings you Boy Without Instructions an inside account of parenting a boy with ADHD. This book is painful, is realistic, and also a page-turner. Every account in her story is relevant and filled with true grittiness and a brave new view on motherly instinct. “My motherly instinct is to be a fixer… but some things simply can’t be “fixed.” Part of my journey into successful parenting was recognizing and accepting that my son’s disabilities couldn’t be “fixed.” Williams discusses that while there were no quick “fixes” to her son’s disabilities, there was a lot of hard work and verve that went into serving her son’s needs. Boy Without Instructions is a difficult journey for parents but not without a road map that points towards joy.

Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life by Sari Solden

Author Sari Solden claims that just as many women suffer from AD/HD as do men. Why then are women not as readily diagnosed with ADD? According to Solden, women present differently– their symptoms may not look like hyperactivity flitting from one subject or idea to the next but perhaps present more like a “dreamer” or wanderer. Though a dreamer or wanderer may not have AD/HD. It is important for many both professionally and interpersonally to be able to make that distinction. Women With Attention Deficit Disorder may just be that book that pus the “ah” in ah-ha! Solden sought to help women who were living lives of “secrecy and shame”, and wanted to give attention to a topic that has not had much attention in the past. Solden highlights “inattentive type” AD/HD, and aims to help women find a diagnosis before the lack of diagnosis leads to depression and anxiety. This book is a gem the uncovers the hidden world of women with inattentive AD/HD.

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

From (www.understood.org), the eight executive functions are:

  • Impulse Control or thinking before acting
  • Emotional Control or keeping emotions “in check”
  • Flexible Thinking or adjusting to the unexpected
  • Working Memory or keeping information in mind
  • Self-Monitoring or evaluating how you’re doing
  • Planning and Prioritizing or setting up goals for success
  • Task Initiation or getting started
  • Organization or keeping track of information

In Smart but Scattered, Dr. Peg Dawson takes the reader through every step of what is coined, as “executive skills” including what the detriments are if these skills are lacking and how to boost them when they are. Dawson will also help parents to work on executive skills within schools. Smart but Scattered is a resource for young learners through to middle school and serves as a reminder that we all need to cultivate executive skills to function well in school and beyond.

Intellectual Delay

Legacy of the Blue Heron: Living with Learning Disabilities by Harry Sylvester.

“I could see that the heron had a bad reputation, undeserved, just like me. The blue herons and I have quietly been trying to sneak through life without getting into trouble,” writes Harry Sylvester. Legacy of the Blue Heron is a story about learning to live and thrive with a learning disability. This warm personal account of growing up severely dyslexic is a wonderful narration of Sylvester’s discoveries and progress through life with his learning disability. Now a retired engineer and former president of Learning Disabilities Association of America, his journey continues to inspire educators, parents, and administrators alike. Legacy of the Blue Heron is an easy read and would be a wonderful gift for anyone who is looking to relate to another with a learning disability.

The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal by Jonathan Mooney

Jonathan Mooney was diagnosed severely disabled with dyslexia and ADHD. He was unable to read until he was 12 years old (at this time he had made plans to commit suicide), and even his principle told him that he would be flipping burgers. After graduating from Brown University, Mooney buys a short bus and journeys across America looking to answer the question: “what is normal?” Along his journey he encounters people with:

  • autism
  • dyslexia
  • Down syndrome

He is confronted with his own preconceived notions about these “disabilities.” Some of the contents of this book are jarring as it reveals some of the atrocities that take place in special education classrooms across the country. The Short Bus is for all readers, and a must for parents with children with exceptionalities.

Down Syndrome

Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parent’s Guide third edition edited by Susan J. Skallerup

Babies With Down Syndrome has been a resource for families since 1985. In this third edition released in 2008, expect to find updates on new therapies and better understandings of Down syndrome from scientists. There are also insightful chapters written from the hearts of parents who have experience and insights and from Michael Levitz who shares what it’s like to live with Down syndrome. This is a terrific resource that covers from birth to age five. In this edition you will learn about:

  • Down syndrome itself
  • what life may be like as you adjust to having your baby
  • what to look out for symptomatically
  • daily care for your baby
  • what an enriching family life is like with a baby with Down syndrome

This book is a must for parents who have just received the Down syndrome diagnosis.

Rare: Craniofacial

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder is a compelling, powerful, and masterfully crafted story of August “Auggie” Pullman who has a rare craniofacial anomaly and is entering into the fifth grade. Auggie had never been to school because of the multiple surgeries he underwent when he was a little boy. “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse,” tells Auggie. This story is woven together with multiple narrators and truly captures the complexities of living life in middle school pulling out August’s best and worst encounters. Wonder has the capacity to make you laugh and cry and is accessible for all ages. If you are looking for a novel to inspire you, to teach others about acceptance, to help and encourage yourself and others who may have exceptionalities or just anyone who needs a glimpse into loving oneself, look no further and pick up this book immediately!

Epilepsy and Seizure

Seizures and Epilepsy in Childhood: A Guide For Parents third edition by John Freeman

Sometimes walking into a doctor’s office and hearing a stream of medical jargon can be overwhelming and scary. In Seizures and Epilepsy in Childhood, Dr. John Freeman addresses a difficult and scary topic by explaining what to expect from epilepsy in clear easy-to-understand terms. This book combines all of the science necessary for effective treatment in the terms of a caregiver. Expect to find up-to-date:

  • terminology on types of seizures
  • explanations on types of epilepsy
  • drugs and how they react to the brain
  • coping strategies
  • information on the psychology of epilepsy

This book is an essential reference for parents and will be one to revisit again and again!

Living Well With Epilepsy and Other Seizure Disorders: An Expert Explains What You Really Need to Know by Carl Bazil

This book is extremely useful to help individuals make the distinction between epileptic seizures and seizures caused for other reasons. Dr. Carl Bazil’s book is popular and useful especially for those looking for information on medications available. Bazil does not shy away from explaining various topics involving the brain and even what different times of seizures feel like (e.g., some touching on emotions). Bazil will discuss:

  • the differences between seizures in children and adults
  • various treatments to seizure disorders including when surgery and when that may or may not be an appropriate option
  • the scope of other symptoms of persons living with seizure disorders
  • alternative treatments


Fish in A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” The Common Core and standardized tests have both been sited as the wrong way to teach and test for intelligence and aptitude for people who learn differently. It is literally the equivalency of asking a fish to climb. Ally, the protagonist of Fish in A Tree, is no different. She has dyslexia and can not read. She retreats into herself and goes to great lengths to mask this fact. She becomes a school-wide trickster. Like so many people with dyslexia her gifts are different and her inability to read is debilitating. Lynda Mullaly Hunt does a wonderful job explaining dyslexia and tells a tale of triumph without being cheesy– yes! Ally’s progress doesn’t come in one magical moment but practically and slowly alongside the help of her teacher Mr. Daniels. This is a wonderful realistic perspective on life in middle school coping with dyslexia.

The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock L. Eide and Fernette F. Eide

Brock and Fernette Eide write a terrific inspiring asset-focused book on the benefits of having dyslexia. In The Dyslexic Advantage, the reader is pulled into new approaches to viewing dyslexia. Eide and Eide look examine the brain and how it is organized differently from other “typical” developing brain maps. Eide and Eide look at various strengths and examine the types of careers who one may come across with from a person with dyslexia. “Next time you run across an unusually good designer, landscaper, mechanic, electrician, carpenter, plumber, radiologist, surgeon, orthodontist, small business owner, […] photographer, artist, boat captain, airplane pilot [etc.] ask if that person or anyone in his or her immediate family is dyslexic or had trouble learning to read, write, or spell…that person will say yes.”

Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program For Reading Problems at Any Level by Sally Shaywitz

Dr. Sally Shaywitz is the co-director at the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention and has created a phenomenal resource for anyone who has a problem with reading because of dyslexia. The book contains valuable information about dyslexia, information on why intelligent people have difficulty with reading, and includes many more answers to questions about dyslexia. Overcoming Dyslexia also includes information on school hunting and also a 20-minute nightly reading enhancement program as well as a list of the 150 top most difficult words. This reference book will give parents a head start in helping your child through some of his or her more frustrating years. This book is also relevant for adults with dyslexia as well as educators who want to bolster their approach to teaching people with dyslexia.


The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

“Moni’s diagnosis lies in my father’s grim recognition that some kernel of the illness may be buried, like toxic waste, in himself” writes physician and scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee in his colossal work The Gene: An Intimate History. Our genes signify who we are, and our genetic history indicates who we may become, and what we may transmit to our offspring. The Gene includes a thousand-year history of genetics; science and also the ethical and philosophical components that make us question our humanity. Mukherjee does an excellent job mapping out the history of our genes and weaves in personal anecdotes from his family’s issues with mental health. Many people have wondered, “What will I pass along and why?” There is so much to this book and really a fantastic read for many people. I’m including it here as a book to consider for anyone who wants to look closer at what it means to be human.


The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon

Depression is pervasive in that it affects as many as 1 in 33 children in America and upwards to 1 in 8 in teenagers and has a significant impact on learning and interpersonal relationships. “When [depression] comes, it degrades one’s self and ultimately eclipses the capacity to give or receive affection. It is the aloneness within us made manifest, and it destroys not only connection to others but all the ability to be peacefully alone with oneself,” writes Andrew Solomon. The Noonday Demon examines depression in not only scientific terms but also personal drawing on stories from individuals who battle with depression. Solomon includes his own personal struggles with the illness. Solomon’s scholar, wit, and tremendous compassion for humanity make this a must-read for anyone interested in the subject of depression. The latest edition includes information on new treatments for depression.


Deaf in America: Voices From a Culture revised edition by Carol A. Padden and Tom L. Humphries

In Deaf in America both the authors Carol A. Padden and Tom L. Humphries are “Deaf” which is defined in this book with the uppercase D meaning any person who is deaf and shares the same language– American Sign Language. This book is very much written from the insider’s perspective and touches on personal accounts from within the Deaf culture, stories about famous Deaf people and the origins of American Sign Language. This book is perfect for people in the Deaf community and people outside of it who wish to gain a better understand of the culture and what it means to be deaf.

Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks

“The existence of a visual language, Sign, and of the striking enhancements of perception and visual intelligence that go with its acquisition, shows us that the brain is rich in potentials we would scarcely have guessed of, shows us the almost unlimited resource of the human organism when it is faced with the new and must adapt.” Seeing Voices is a journey into deaf culture in three parts: A Deaf World which is an examination of deaf culture and history that has since its conception been revised. Thinking in Sign, which is about the visual language of the deaf community, and the Revolution of the Deaf, which describes the rise of deaf culture, and its changes are the second and third sections of this book. Oliver Sacks discusses the deaf culture with great compassion and awe. His scientific mind and detailed story-telling abilities draw in the reader making this a fascinating book for anyone.


A Sense of the World: How A Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts

By 1846 British adventurer James Holman had circumnavigated the globe and visited every inhabited continent. He was blind. His method of getting around was also extraordinary. Rather than using his sense of touch, Holman’s method for interpreting the landscape was sonic in that he would navigate the topography by tapping his cane and listening for the echoes. This is known as human echolocation. Without the work of Jason Roberts the life of this extraordinary man may have been lost. Becoming blind at the age of 25 in the 18th century came with a myriad of stigmas he too had to overcome in addition to his blindness. A Sense of the World is a truly inspirational and incredible true story about how because of not despite his blindness James Holman was enabled to live an extraordinary life.

Spina Bifida

Children with Spina Bifida: A Parent’s Guide second edition edited by Marlene Lutkenhoff

Children With Spina Bifida is a terrific guide for parents as it is accessible and clearly outlines what to expect when a child is born with spina bifida. Spina bifida affects every child uniquely and this book gives comprehensive information on all levels of development and care including:

  • prenatal discovery
  • toileting
  • orthopedics
  • common medical problems

Included are the child’s legal rights, the kinds of accommodations that should be made in schools as well as taking a look at emotional health. This is one of the top special needs books for any parent or caregiver who works with children with spina bifida from birth to age six.

For Kids

Yuko-Chan and the Daruma Doll by Sunny Seki

In Japan the Daruma doll is a symbol for perseverance and resilience as the doll, even when tipped over, always bounces back up. Sunny Seki’s beautifully illustrated book about Yuko-Chan, a blind orphan who is able to scale mountains, fight off burglars, and ultimately save her village is able to bounce back and persevere regardless of the many obstacles that come her way. This book is a truly inspirational story for anyone who lives with or without blindness and serves as a reminder that when life knocks us down, we can, like the strong spirit of Yuko-Chan, pick ourselves back up.

We’ll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen tells the story of what it means to be a sibling of someone with Down syndrome. As Emma anticipates the birth of her new baby brother, she is not quite ready to share the house with someone new. Emma and her father discuss the many ways that she could enjoy spending time with her new brother. But when the diagnosis of Down syndrome is announced Emma is not certain that she will be able to do all of the things she and her father had discussed. Father and daughter imagine the journey again this time highlighting the importance of patience and love.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rule number 18: “Pantless brothers are not my problem.” Anybody who has lived with a family member with autism may laugh and cry simultaneously at this very important “rule.” Cynthia Lord’s debut novel, Rules, is told from the perspective of twelve-year-old Catherine who is the older sibling of David. David is eight and has autism. Catherine wants David to fit in and understand the rules of “normal” life and also wants her life to be “normal” too. This book does not shy away from topics like resentment, frustration and embarrassment. Catherine feels all of those and feels them deeply. She also protects, reflects, and searches for meaning. After encountering Jason, a boy in a wheelchair at David’s occupational therapy clinic, Catherine is forced to reevaluate her perception of what is “normal.” This book is perfect for anyone with a sibling with autism.

The Alphabet War by Diane Burton Robb & Gail Piazza

The Alphabet War is a realistic account of a boy named Adam and his experience with the frustrations of living with dyslexia. It starts with his difficulties in kindergarten and continues through to fourth grade. The Alphabet War gives insightful accounts of the problems that may arise when dyslexia goes undiagnosed and consequently the right kind of help is unavailable. The Alphabet War touches on reading difficulties, social difficulties, and behavioral difficulties that come with the frustrations of living with dyslexia.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is a true story about Cece Bell and her experiences with the Phonic Ear, an awkward and bulky hearing device she used in the 1970s. Bell became deaf at the age of four from spinal meningitis. This spectacularly illustrated graphic novel, where all the characters are rabbits, hilariously and warmly chronicles her experiences with deafness as she learns to lip read, search for friends, and utilize her new superpower– the ability to hear her teacher no matter where she is in the building. El Deafo is for everyone. This graphic novel is an opportunity to inspire readers of all ages both for those who live with hearing impairments and for those who do not.