- TQS Book Club
When you’re the parent of a teenager, you can expect to have challenging conversations.
Adolescence is a tumultuous time in a child’s life, and it often requires families to have deep discussions about big, sometimes uncomfortable, topics. At the same time, it can be challenging to initiate these conversations, especially if your teen is not enthused by talking about their feelings and emotions.
When that teen is also diagnosed with autism, the complexity of these conversations increases dramatically.
In last month’s TQS Book Club, “Helping Children Identify Emotions,” I offered resources for parents of younger children and preteens to help with emotional conversations. But as any parent of a teenager knows, trying to talk to a teen about their emotions is a completely different ballgame.
Helping adolescents with autism identify their emotions and process their feelings first requires conversations about why they find learning these critical self-regulation skills so difficult -- why, unlike their neurotypical peers, they have not developed these skills automatically.
That means talking to adolescents with autism about emotions first requires a conversation about their autism.
Fortunately, I can recommend two terrific books to facilitate these discussions, and both are by Dr. Temple Grandin.
Dr. Grandin is an American scientist and activist, who also happens to be diagnosed with autism. Known for her pioneering work in the livestock industry and on animal behavior, as well as her role as a spokesperson for people with autism, Dr. Grandin is devoted to understanding her own autistic mind in order to help others with the condition. She shares these insights in two books that are must-reads for any parent of a youth with autism:
Thinking In Pictures (My Life With Autism) is Dr. Grandin’s personal autobiography, and it describes her experience with visual thinking. Since its publication in 1995, this book has helped the masses understand how people with autism see the world. In it, she builds empathy, awareness, and admiration for individuals with autism.
The Autistic Brain (Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed) offers advice based on the emerging neuroscientific understanding of autism as well as Dr. Grandin’s research and experience. I love how she uses images of her own brain scans to show her readers how people with autism learn. This book is full of inspiration and practical strategies for families.
By helping adolescents both understand and appreciate the unique ways in which their minds work, parents can open up conversation channels to bigger topics.
Do you have any other book suggestions for helping teens understand their own autism? Share in the comments below, join the conversation on Facebook, and make sure you subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss future TQS Book Club recommendations!