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Suggested Books about ADHD and Autism

These are all books I have read, which have been recommended to me by my supervisor and other therapists.
I hope they help you expand your understanding of neurodiversity!
Please note any purchases you make through these links will support me with a small commission. All book descriptions came from Apple Books. Thank you for your support!

Books with asterisks/stars were written by neurodivergent authors. Others might also be included, these are just the ones where the authors have mentioned it.

Unmasking
Books I read

Books I have read

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For every visibly Autistic person you meet, there are countless “masked” Autistic people who pass as neurotypical. Masking is a common coping mechanism in which Autistic people hide their identifiably Autistic traits in order to fit in with societal norms, adopting a superficial personality at the expense of their mental health. This can include suppressing harmless stims, papering over communication challenges by presenting as unassuming and mild-mannered, and forcing themselves into situations that cause severe anxiety, all so they aren’t seen as needy or “odd.”
 
In Unmasking Autism, Dr. Devon Price shares his personal experience with masking and blends history, social science research, prescriptions, and personal profiles to tell a story of neurodivergence that has thus far been dominated by those on the outside looking in. For Dr. Price and many others, Autism is a deep source of uniqueness and beauty. Unfortunately, living in a neurotypical world means it can also be a source of incredible alienation and pain. Most masked Autistic individuals struggle for decades before discovering who they truly are. They are also more likely to be marginalized in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and other factors, which contributes to their suffering and invisibility. Dr. Price lays the groundwork for unmasking and offers exercises that encourage self-expression, including:

• Celebrating special interests
• Cultivating Autistic relationships
• Reframing Autistic stereotypes
• And rediscovering your values

It’s time to honor the needs, diversity, and unique strengths of Autistic people so that they no longer have to mask—and it’s time for greater public acceptance and accommodation of difference. In embracing neurodiversity, we can all reap the rewards of nonconformity and learn to live authentically, Autistic and neurotypical people alike.

Neuroqueer
ADHD 2.0
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The work of queer autistic scholar Nick Walker has played a key role in the evolving discourse on human neurodiversity.

Neuroqueer Heresies collects a decade's worth of Dr. Walker's most influential writings, along with new commentary by the author and new material on her radical conceptualization of Neuroqueer Theory.

This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the foundations, terminology, implications, and leading edges of the emerging neurodiversity paradigm.

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World-renowned authors Dr. Edward M. Hallowell and Dr. John J. Ratey literally “wrote the book” on ADD/ADHD more than two decades ago. Their bestseller, Driven to Distraction, largely introduced this diagnosis to the public and sold more than a million copies along the way.

Now, most people have heard of ADHD and know someone who may have it. But lost in the discussion of both childhood and adult diagnosis of ADHD is the potential upside: Many hugely successful entrepreneurs and highly creative people attribute their achievements to ADHD. Also unknown to most are the recent research developments, including innovations that give a clearer understanding of the ADHD brain in action. In ADHD 2.0, Drs. Hallowell and Ratey, both of whom have this “variable attention trait,” draw on the latest science to provide both parents and adults with ADHD a plan for minimizing the downside and maximizing the benefits of ADHD at any age. They offer an arsenal of new strategies and lifestyle hacks for thriving with ADHD, including

• Find the right kind of difficult. Use these behavior assessments to discover the work, activity, or creative outlet best suited to an individual’s unique strengths.
• Reimagine environment. What specific elements to look for—at home, at school, or in the workplace—to enhance the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit inherent in the ADHD mind.
• Embrace innate neurological tendencies. Take advantage of new findings about the brain’s default mode network and cerebellum, which confer major benefits for people with ADHD.
• Tap into the healing power of connection. Tips for establishing and maintaining positive connection “the other Vitamind C” and the best antidote to the negativity that plagues so many people with ADHD.
• Consider medication. Gets the facts about the underlying chemistry, side effects, and proven benefits of all the pharmaceutical options. 

As inspiring as it is practical, ADHD 2.0 will help you tap into the power of this mercurial condition and find the key that unlocks potential.

Faster than Normal
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Peter Shankman is a busy guy -- a media entrepreneur who runs several businesses, gives keynote speeches around the world, hosts a popular podcast, runs marathons and Iron Mans, is a licensed skydiver, dabbles in angel investing, and is loving father to his young daughter. 

Simply put, he always seems to have more than 24 hours in a day. How does he do it? Peter attributes his unusually high energy level and extreme productivity to his ADHD. 

In Faster Than Normal, Shankman shares his hard-won insights and daily hacks for making ADHD a secret weapon for living a full and deeply satisfying life. Both inspiring and practical, the book presents life rules, best practices, and simple but powerful ways to:

Harness your creative energy to generate and execute your ideas
Direct your hyperfocus to get things done 
Identify your pitfalls--and avoid them
Streamline your daily routine to eliminate distractions
Use apps and other tech innovations to free up your time and energy

Filled with ingenious hacks and supportive self-care advice, this is the positive, practical book the ADHD community has long needed - and is also an invaluable handbook for anyone who's sick of feeling overwhelmed and wants to drive their faster-than-normal brain at maximum speed...without crashing.

Radical Guide
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Note: You might want to skip chapter 3, it goes over common negative comments we have ADHDers have heard people say to us.

If you are a woman with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you've probably known-all your life-that you're different. As girls, we learn which behaviors, thinking, learning, and working styles are preferred, which are accepted and tolerated, and which are frowned upon. These preferences are communicated in innumerable ways-from media and books to our first-grade classroom to conversations with our classmates and parents.
Over the course of a lifetime, women with ADHD learn through various channels that the way they think, work, speak, relate, and act does not match up with the preferred way of being in the world. In short, they learn that difference is bad. And, since these women know that they are different, they learn that they are bad. It's time for a change.
A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD is the first guided workbook for women with ADHD designed to break the cycle of negative self-talk and shame-based narratives that stem from the common and limiting belief that brain differences are character flaws. In this unique guide, you'll find a groundbreaking approach that blends traditional ADHD treatment with contemporary treatment methods, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), to help you untangle yourself from the beliefs that have kept you from reaching your potential in life.

Born on a Blue Day
Gift of ADHD
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Bestselling author Daniel Tammet (Thinking in Numbers) is virtually unique among people who have severe autistic disorders in that he is capable of living a fully independent life and able to explain what is happening inside his head.

He sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He can learn to speak new languages fluently, from scratch, in a week. In 2004, he memorized and recited more than 22,000 digits of pi, setting a record. He has savant syndrome, an extremely rare condition that gives him the most unimaginable mental powers, much like those portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man.

Fascinating and inspiring, Born on a Blue Day explores what it’s like to be special and gives us an insight into what makes us all human—our minds.

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Note: There are some good gems in here, but the book is centered on strategies for elementary aged children.

As a parent, you already know that your child has many gifts. What you may not know is that attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) related symptoms—the very qualities that lead him or her to act out and distract others—may be among them.

This second edition of The Gift of ADHD includes compelling new research indicating that the impulses that lead your child to act exuberantly may correspond with unusual levels of creativity and a heightened capacity for insight into the feelings and emotions of others. Could it be that ADHD is not a hindrance, but an asset in our fast-paced digital age?

ADHD expert Lara Honos-Webb presents the evidence for this revolutionary concept and explains how you can help your child develop control over inattentive, hyperactive behavior and enhance the five gifts of ADHD: creativity, attunement to nature, interpersonal intuition, energetic enthusiasm, and emotional sensitivity. Filled with easy skill-building activities you and your child can do together, this book will help your child transform problematic symptoms into strengths, then build the self-esteem they need to let those gifts shine.

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Divergent Mind

A paradigm-shifting study of neurodivergent women—those with ADHD, autism, synesthesia, high sensitivity, and sensory processing disorder—exploring why these traits are overlooked in women and how society benefits from allowing their unique strengths to flourish.

As a successful Harvard and Berkeley-educated writer, entrepreneur, and devoted mother, Jenara Nerenberg was shocked to discover that her “symptoms”--only ever labeled as anxiety-- were considered autistic and ADHD. Being a journalist, she dove into the research and uncovered neurodiversity—a framework that moves away from pathologizing “abnormal” versus “normal” brains and instead recognizes the vast diversity of our mental makeups. 

When it comes to women, sensory processing differences are often overlooked, masked, or mistaken for something else entirely. Between a flawed system that focuses on diagnosing younger, male populations, and the fact that girls are conditioned from a young age to blend in and conform to gender expectations, women often don’t learn about their neurological differences until they are adults, if at all. As a result, potentially millions live with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed neurodivergences, and the misidentification leads to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and shame. Meanwhile, we all miss out on the gifts their neurodivergent minds have to offer.

Divergent Mind is a long-overdue, much-needed answer for women who have a deep sense that they are “different.” Sharing real stories from women with high sensitivity, ADHD, autism, misophonia, dyslexia, SPD and more, Nerenberg explores how these brain variances present differently in women and dispels widely-held misconceptions (for example, it’s not that autistic people lack sensitivity and empathy, they have an overwhelming excess of it).

Nerenberg also offers us a path forward, describing practical changes in how we communicate, how we design our surroundings, and how we can better support divergent minds. When we allow our wide variety of brain makeups to flourish, we create a better tomorrow for us all.

Dirty Laundry
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What if you stopped feeling ashamed of constantly being late or of getting so hyperfocused on a task that you drop everything else you had to do? How can you as a partner, parent, or friend better understand your neurodivergent loved one’s way of moving through the world?
 
In Dirty Laundry, life partners Rich Pink and Rox Emery unapologetically guide you through the ups and downs of life with ADHD. Every chapter starts with a common symptom of ADHD, like impulsivity or struggles with finances, and an earnest moment from their own lives to show you how they navigate the symptom together. Rox reminds you to be kind to yourself and love yourself for who you are; Rich offers tips on how he uses compassion and honesty instead of jumping to conclusions. Whether it's helping your ADHDer with friendly time-checks before an appointment or reminding yourself to take breaks during hours spent hyperfocusing on a new project, Rox and Rich give you the tools to destigmatize and normalize life with ADHD.

Different not less
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Growing up, Chloe Hayden felt like she'd crash-landed on an alien planet where nothing made sense. Eye contact? Small talk? And why are you people so touch-oriented? She moved between 10 schools in 8 years, struggling to become a person she believed society would accept, and was eventually diagnosed with autism and ADHD. When a life-changing group of allies showed her that different did not mean less, she learned to celebrate her true voice and find her happily ever after. 

This is a moving, at times funny story of how it feels to be neurodivergent as well as a practical guide, with advice for living with meltdowns and shutdowns, tips for finding supportive communities and much more. 

Whether you're neurodivergent or supporting those who are, Different, Not Less will inspire you to create a more inclusive world where everyone feels like they belong.

But you don't look
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Autism – that’s being able to count matches really fast and knowing that 7 August 1984 was a Tuesday, right? Well, no. In this book, Bianca Toeps explains in great detail what life is like when you’re autistic.
She does this by looking at what science says about autism (and why some theories can go straight in the bin), but also by telling her own story and interviewing other autistics. Bianca talks in a refreshing and sometimes hilarious way about different situations autistic people encounter in daily life. She has some useful tips for non-autistic people too: what you should do if someone prefers not to look you in the eye, why it is sometimes better to communicate by email, and, most important of all, why it is not a compliment if you say: “But you don’t look autistic at all!”

Recommended Books

Books recommended to me/on my reading list

I Overcame
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Sarah Kurchak is autistic. She hasn’t let that get in the way of pursuing her dream to become a writer, or to find love, but she has let it get in the way of being in the same room with someone chewing food loudly, and of cleaning her bathroom sink. In I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder, Kurchak examines the Byzantine steps she took to become “an autistic success story,” how the process almost ruined her life and how she is now trying to recover. Growing up undiagnosed in small-town Ontario in the eighties and nineties, Kurchak realized early that she was somehow different from her peers. She discovered an effective strategy to fend off bullying: she consciously altered nearly everything about herself-from her personality to her body language. She forced herself to wear the denim jeans that felt like being enclosed in a sandpaper iron maiden. Every day, she dragged herself through the door with an elevated pulse and a churning stomach, nearly crumbling under the effort of the performance. By the time she was finally diagnosed with autism at twenty-seven, she struggled with depression and anxiety largely caused by the same strategy she had mastered precisely. She came to wonder, were all those years of intensely pretending to be someone else really worth it? Tackling everything from autism parenting culture to love, sex, alcohol, obsessions, and professional pillow fighting, Kurchak’s enlightening memoir challenges stereotypes and preconceptions about autism and considers what might really make the lives of autistic people healthier, happier, and more fulfilling.

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Neurotribes

A New York Times bestseller

Winner of the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction

A groundbreaking book that upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for acceptance, understanding, and full participation in society for people who think differently.
 
What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.
 
Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
 
Along the way, he reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, the father of Asperger’s syndrome, whose “little professors” were targeted by the darkest social-engineering experiment in human history; exposes the covert campaign by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for fifty years; and casts light on the growing movement of "neurodiversity" activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, accommodations in the workplace and in education, and the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences.

Scattered Minds
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In this breakthrough guide to understanding, treating, and healing Attention Deficit Disorder, Dr. Gabor Maté, bestselling author of The Myth of Normal, and himself diagnosed with ADD:

Demonstrates that the condition is not a genetic “illness” but a response to environmental stressExplains that in ADD, circuits in the brain whose job is emotional self-regulation and attention control fail to develop in infancy – and whyShows how ‘distractibility’ is the psychological product of life experienceAllows parents to understand what makes their ADD children tick, and adults with ADD to gain insights into their emotions and behaviorsExpresses optimism about neurological development even in adulthoodPresents a program of how to promote this development in both children and adults
Whereas other books on the subject describe the condition as inherited, Dr. Maté believes that our social and emotional environments play a key role in both the cause of and cure for this condition. In Scattered Minds, he describes the painful realities of ADD and its effect on children as well as on career and social paths in adults.

While acknowledging that genetics may indeed play a part in predisposing a person toward ADD, Dr. Maté moves beyond that to focus on the things we can control: changes in environment, family dynamics, and parenting choices. He draws heavily on his own experience with the disorder, as both an ADD sufferer and the parent of diagnosed children. Providing a thorough overview of ADD and its treatments, without blaming anyone, Scattered Minds is essential and life-changing reading for the millions of ADD sufferers in North America today.

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