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Powerful Special Needs Books You Must Read

These books change your whole perspective on your own life. And that’s a must sometimes!

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Learning about special needs requires a change of perspectives, especially if you want to better understand someone with special needs. Through understanding we know how to communicate, educate, parent, and have fun with someone with special needs.

These incredible books are not only informative on the perspective, they are also inspirational stories about special needs. If you’re passionate about disabilities, you’ll just have to read every single one of them!

#1 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
An amazing book that shows the deep disconnect between the family’s and professionals’ perceptions of the child’s disability and the medical care the child received and how the child’s and family’s lives were shaped by this disconnect.

This book allows an in-depth understanding of how family’s experience can be completely inaccessible to the professionals working with them, and how this can play out over time and create deep ripple effects that go beyond anything that was anticipated.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#2 How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move? by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move? by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay
A first person account by an autistic young man who grew up in India, unable to communicate verbally, and whose mother helped him discover an ability to communicate by typing, allowing him for the first time to be able to communicate his intelligence and unique perspective. A window into the life of individuals with autism, and those who are non-verbal as children.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#3 Occupaional Therapy for Children by Jane Case-Smith

Occupaional Therapy for Children by Jane Case-Smith
I work for an extramural company where we develop creativity in children between the ages of three and 13. We service many special needs schools worldwide and this book is the cornerstone of our fine motor skills program. It may be technical, but it is an excellent source of information for children that have motor problems. The children we work with are at a critical stage and we owe many of our breakthroughs in fine motor skills to this book and its contents.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#4 Sienna’s Locket by Chrissy Bernal

Sienna’s Locket by Chrissy Bernal
This book teaches kids that what makes them different is what makes them wonderful, and that they can actually use what makes them different for great things.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#5 Unmasking the Trauma by Dr. April J. Lisbon

Unmasking the Trauma by Dr. April J. Lisbon
This book shares the raw experiences of both educators and parents who have experienced the negative side effects of school related bullying on family members. I recommend this book for individuals who desire to build trauma free schools by decreasing school bullying and increasing school acceptance.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#6 Autism in April by Dr. April J. Lisbon

Autism in April by Dr. April J. Lisbon
I recommend this book as it is designed to uplift and empower mothers of children on the Autism Spectrum and other differential needs as they move through the highs and lows on their child’s journey. As these ‘mom warriors’ move through each chapter, they will find hope in knowing that they are already equipped to be the best support system for their child. Autism in April is an international award winning book in the category of Best in Parenting.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#7 The Kilwade Tragedy: Tragedies don’t just happen by Terry Keys

The Kilwade Tragedy: Tragedies don't just happen by Terry Keys
The importance of teen health and teen mental health cannot be overstated. Sadly, Terry’s novel is punishingly timely with all of the violent events so razor sharp at present. This is a novel to read not only because it is fine prose, but it also suggests a flaw in our society. A book every parent MUST read.

Amazingly graphic, terrifyingly real-life and current time. A parental must read. Terry Keys, USA Today bestselling author of Lie No More and The Missing pens his most captivating book to date. This is the heart-breaking story about a small-town boy who’d taken everything from everyone until he could take no more.

Seventeen-year-old Blaze Planter is a Jr. at Kilwade, High School.
His parents have recently divorced.
His grades are slipping.
His anger is growing with each day.
Relationships with his closest friends are failing.
Secrets about his life are being uncovered.
No one understands what he is going through.
And everyone who has betrayed him needs to be taught a lesson.
So now he stands with the one friend that has never betrayed him.
The one friend that does what he asks every time he squeezes the trigger.
The only friend that he can depend on.
Tragedies don’t just happen. The signs are simply overlooked every day until it’s too late.

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#8 The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
This book is full of fascinating stories showcasing the power of the brain’s ability to change itself. When my daughter was very young and we knew she would be dealing with cerebral palsy for the rest of her life, the future looked overwhelming and bleak. This book gave us hope. In the years that have passed since reading this book, I’ve seen first hand the power of neuroplasticity evidenced in my own daughter.

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#9 Daniel’s New Friend by Becky Friedman

Daniel's New Friend by Becky Friedman
This is a great children’s book teaching that although people may have differences on the outside, we can always find ways we’re the same. My daughter who has cerebral palsy loves it because Daniel’s friend is “different” like she is, and I think it would be also great for introducing inclusivity to typically developing children.

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#10 Beyond the Finish by Brent Pease

Beyond the Finish by Brent Pease
Emotional and uplifting, Beyond the Finish is a memoir that shares Kyle Pease’s quest to becoming an IRONMAN despite using a wheelchair due to spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. With the help of his brother, Brent, the Pease’s fulfilled their lifelong dream and made history last October becoming the first brother duo to complete the grueling IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#11 Superstar by Mandy Davis

Superstar by Mandy Davis
As someone who has struggled with autism all my life, I consider the book Superstar by Mandy Davis a great help. The book is about the story of an autistic boy who learns to live well with others. It goes into the boy’s thoughts in great detail. This was effective for me because I always felt I am weird and knowing that this boy was having the same thoughts and experiences as me provided comfort and made me more confident in my abilities.

Also, the book shows that the boy is getting a great deal of social support from friends, classmates, and his parents, and by reading this book, I realized I can also get social support from my colleagues and family members. In the end, the boy grows above everyone’s expectation, providing me hope and making me realize for me and other autistic people there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#12 A Home for Sally by Stenetta Anthony

A Home for Sally by Stenetta Anthony
This book shares Sally’s perspective on the emotions, reactions, and effects associated with having a disability. Her story sets the stage for conversations about love and acceptance for everyone regardless of their outer appearance.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#13 Roll With It by Jamie Sumner

Roll With It by Jamie Sumner
R.J. Palacio’s Wonder initiated a much-needed dialogue regarding disability in literature. Publishers took notice. Books like Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Sharon Draper’s Out of My Mind and Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree followed with great success.

The literature is there. The hole in the canon is finally filling with rich and distinct characters who bring much more than their disabilities to light. Roll With It features a main character with cerebral palsy. Ellie is fierce. She has her own opinions and is not afraid to voice them, whether that be about her aide’s involvement during the school day or the latest recipe she’s testing or the level of care her grandpa gets for his Alzheimer’s.

She is a girl who loves to bake. And a girl who refuses to be underestimated. And a girl who will do anything for her family, because that’s what families do. She is a tamer of cockatoos and a champ at mini golf and a fiercely loyal friend. She also happens to have cerebral palsy.

This story is for all the kids living with a disability who have to fight to be known beyond their differences.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#14 Lost At School by Ross W Green

Lost At School by Ross W Green
Lost at school addresses children with behavioral challenges and how current discipline practices often do not support these children’s need and promote success. Green gives a framework for understanding some of this behavior and strategies for teachers/parents to begin to address these behaviors in a more productive manner. A true must read for educators.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#15 The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident Of A Dog In The Night-Time is written from the perspective of a teen with autism. This book was shared with me as a teacher when I had a student with autism in my 4th grade class. This captivating novel truly helps the reader understand how the main character, Christopher’s thinks, as an autistic teen. The insights gleaned from Christopher’s perspective are endearing and eye opening for parents and educators.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#16 Wonder By R.J.Palacio

Wonder By R.J.Palacio
Wonder is a phenomenal book that both children (older elementary and up) and adults can appreciate. Wonder is about a boy who is born with a facial difference/deformity and his struggle to fit in and be a regular kid.

The book is written from the perspective of the main character, Auggie, but also includes the perspectives of his sister, classmates and others. SO many wonderful lessons to be learned from this book including forgiveness, acceptance, empathy and compassion.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#17 The ABC’s of Learning Issues by Dana Stahl

The ABC's of Learning Issues by Dana Stahl
The ABCs of Learning Issues is a terrific resource by educational expert, Dana Stahl, M.Ed., which has won the NAPPA and Parent Teacher Choice Awards. Stahl, who has a history of being learning disabled and became a learning specialist provides a practical guide for parents to help them further understand their children’s learning, attention and anxiety issues.

The book bridges the home-school gap by demystifying areas of concerns and captures how parents and educators can work together guiding children to reach their full potential. The book also provides a glossary of terms professionals use, and identifies community resources where parents can find support.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#18 Power Wheelchair Safety for Kids by Charisse Montgomery

Power Wheelchair Safety for Kids by Charisse Montgomery
A power wheelchair provides freedom, but it is also a big responsibility. Because wheelchair accidents and falls can be dangerous, it is important for children and families to practice safety skills when they travel in a wheelchair.

Power Wheelchair Safety for Kids (A Super Safe Kids book) engages kids and families with ways to stay safe and avoid accidents in a power wheelchair, while fostering early independent living skills. Power Wheelchair Safety for Kids is aligned with national safety initiatives to improve safety and enable community travel for wheelchair users.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

Book Depository (International)Waterstones (International) Read more reviews and buy the book here

#19 Hospital Safety for Kids by Charisse N. Montgomery

Hospital Safety for Kids by Charisse N. Montgomery
Research shows that patients and families who are engaged and involved in health care have better health outcomes. Hospital Safety for Kids (A Super Safe Kids book) engages pediatric patients and their families in advocacy for the hospital setting, including medication safety, reducing infections, avoiding falls, and collaborating as part of the health care team.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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#20 Central Line Safety for Kids by Charisse N. Montgomery

Central Line Safety for Kids by Charisse N. Montgomery
In alignment with national initiatives to reduce the occurrence of central line infections (CLABSI), Central Line Safety for Kids (A Super Safe Kids book) engages pediatric patients and their families in caring for a central line.

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#21 The Spine Surgery Book for Kids by Charisse N. Montgomery

The Spine Surgery Book for Kids by Charisse N. Montgomery
The journey to having spinal surgery can be tough for kids and their families. It helps when children understand what will happen to their bodies and why. The Spine Surgery Book for Kids (A Super Safe Kids book) helps children understand the basics of spinal surgery. With kid-friendly explanations and images, this book guides families as they prepare for spinal surgery.

Before buying a copy make sure to compare the price at various outlets:

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Contributors to this article
Yulika Forman from The Expert Ally

Vincit-Lee Lloyd from Beaux-Arts Creativity!

Chrissy Bernal from ChrissyBernal

April J. Lisbon from AdvocacyCoaching

Terry Keys from Terry Keys Books

Melanie Musson from Exercise

Colleen Murphy from Kyle Pease Foundation

Jesse Harrison from HopeTree Legal Funding

Stenetta Anthony from StenettaAnthony

Audrey Gibbons from Simon & Schuster Children’s

Kristy Leader from Education For Progress

Sharon Farnell from Finn Partners

Charisse N. Montgomery from Super Safe Kids Books

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