For Neurodiversity Celebration Week, the Creased Puddle Team recommend some of their top neurodiversity reads:
Dr Alice Siberry (Specialist Neurodiversity Criminal Justice Consultant)
Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Adults by Dr Luke Beardon
Why I chose this book?
Up to 47% of autistic people experience severe anxiety (National Autistic Society, 2020), which is often a cumulation of navigating a vast variety of environments and situations. Whether it’s social situations or just going to the supermarket, there are so many ways that autistic people can become quickly overwhelmed by sensory information and / or expectations of others, the pervasiveness of which can lead to constant and consistent anxiety.
What is so great about this book?
Dr Luke Beardon writes in an accessible way, that is easy to read and understand. Though informative, he also provides examples and anecdotes that brings an element of humanity and reality to the conversation. This book promotes progressive perspectives of autism, which moves away from the idea that anxiety is something that the autistic person should fix, to looking at the ways in which environments (in particular, education and workplaces) can help in reducing anxiety.
How can it help others?
This book not only supplies information about what autism is, but it also helps autistic and non-autistic people alike, assess how best to support wellbeing. With anxiety affecting 42% of autistic children, in comparison to only 3% of non-autistic children (Autistica, 2022), it is essential that people are aware of the impact that anxiety can have an autistic people throughout their life.
Nigel Archer (Criminal Justice Neurodiversity Consultant)
The Pocket Guide to Neurodiversity by Daniel Aherne
Hot off the press…! Archie’s pick is Daniel Aherne’s ‘Pocket Guide to Neurodiversity.’ Daniel has over 18 years’ experience of working with employers, and is the Founder and Director of Adjust, a consultancy that raises awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace.
This handy guide takes you through the basics of neurodiversity, including different neurological conditions, and introduces some of the common differences experienced by neurodivergent people, including processing, working memory and communication styles.
It is easy to read, accessible, and a great ‘dictionary’ style book to dip in and out of as and when you need information about neurodiversity.
Caroline Turner (CEO and Founder)
Raining Cats and Dogs by Michael Barton
It will come as no shock to those who know of my attention span that my book has lots of pictures in it!
However, there are much deeper (and hopefully more interesting) reasons that I’ve put forward this helpfully illustrated, engaging resource.
Firstly, this was one of the first books that I bought when my son was diagnosed as autistic, 18 years ago. An Autism specialist teacher recommended it to us to assist him in understanding idioms. To be honest, I didn’t understand what they were or how on earth they related to autism at the time.
The basic premise of this book is to illustrate that we (English speakers) have grown a complex language which we appear to take great delight in making…. Well… even more complex. We do this by using words and situations which may not resemble the original message WHATSOEVER.
Take the phrase ‘Sat on the fence’. In this idiom, I see a person sat on a fence – but it has a mysterious and hidden meaning. It actually means ‘remaining neutral in a matter’ or ‘can’t make their mind up’.
I think you can see where I’m going here…
If you google, like I have, where certain idioms come from then this is also rather unpredictable. Some have rather interesting origins. For example ‘Turn a blind eye’ is commonly accepted to have come from a comment by British Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Copenhagen.
Anyway, before I start to go down a very interesting rabbit hole (there’s another one for you – you’re welcome). I should explain why this is relevant to Michael, my son and generally to the neurodiversity conversation.
For me, this book represents the opportunity for the neurotypical community to take advantage of a beautifully honest, uncomplicated, and humorous window into the minds of millions of literal thinkers. In writing and publishing this book, Michael shows the world the potential for creativity, the ridiculousness of our language and the ability to forge understanding of minds of all kinds.
Michael went on to write Different Kettle of Fish – A Day in Life of a Physics Student with Autism, I can highly recommend this for exactly the same reasons.
So, what started out as a way to explain idioms to my son turned into a tool for me to explain the benefit of providing literal language to the 1000’s of people I have trained. I recommend it as a communication tool and to further understanding of language and interpretation, perception and meaning.
Oh and it is also good if you want to win at Idiom Addict (which I can also recommend!)
Cheryl Winter (Lead Coach and Neurodiversity Consultant)
The Power of Neurodiversity by Thomas Armstrong
Why is this my chosen book?
My journey into the world of dyslexia began with this book The Power of Neurodiversity, little did I know it would take me to a new career and passion. I am grateful to this book for being my introduction to a whole new way of thinking and understanding the different processing styles that people have. This forms the foundation for the way that I have coached my clients for the last 10 years.
What is so great about this book?
Back in 2010, if you looked up dyslexia in the workplace, the internet could only offer you a small sample of around 20 articles to read, and many of those related to children. Thomas Armstrong writes about the workplace too. He shares a beautifully clear understanding of neuropsychological conditions, shining a light on the natural diversity of the brain’s advantages and special skills. Just take a peek at some of the chapter titles and you will want to explore more: ‘The joy of the hyperactive brain’, ‘The Rainbow of Intelligences’ and ‘Thinking in a different key’. They all shine a light on what had been hidden by the medical model of disability for years.
This book will guide you to resources for building inclusive environments, how to take advantage of the range of technology and even explore career paths which utilise the many strengths of neurodivergent thinkers.
There is scientific evidence to back up the theory and ideas, and a host of reference books and websites to tap into.
My favourite quote from the book is by Edwin Markham:
‘He drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took him in’.
This started me thinking of how neurodivergent individuals had been excluded in the past. Fast forward to 2023, and I see that organisations have grown immensely since this book’s publication. More and more circles are being drawn to build neuro-inclusive workplaces.
How can it help others?
In the early days of coaching neurodiversity, this book provided me with an insight into the different thinking styles of ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia. The book broadened my awareness of the challenges individuals may come across in a neurotypical world and showed me that neurodiverse traits have the joyful flip side of strengths which had been missed previously.
More recent publications, such as ‘Neurodiversity, From Phenomenology to Neurobiology and enhancing technologies’ by Lawrence K Fung have now superseded Thomas Armstrong. However, Armstrong remains my go to book for an introduction to neurodiversity.
Tamsin Hartley (Partner Coach at Creased Puddle)
Through Autistic Eyes by Nicky Collins
I have been coaching in the field of neurodiversity for over 8 years, and throughout that time I have read many books and attended some wonderful events.
I was recommended this book by a fellow neurodiversity coach. It has helped me gain rich insights into the lives of the clients that I work with, and autistic friends and family members.
I love the fact that the book is so accessible and easy to read. Each chapter tells the story of a different woman’s experience of being autistic. There are ten chapters in all.
Whilst I already had significant awareness of the theory about autism, reading about their lived experience helped to me to get a more tangible, three-dimensional sense of the challenges that these women face. It was profoundly moving in places.
I could also appreciate their strengths, the way their autism enriches their lives and the lives of those around them.
Each woman gave tips for others in their situation. Mostly about knowing their worth, accepting themselves for who they are, and not trying to be someone they are not. In the words of Allie:
… it needs to happen in stages and you’re going to need to start dropping the mask around people you’re comfortable around. When you find those people, that’s when you will be the real you. That is where your power lies.
I would highly recommend this book to others – whether already you are starting your journey of understanding autism or you are already working in the field of neurodiversity. Autistic women who I have recommended this book to say that it has been both reassuring and validating to know that others have similar experiences to them.
I wish there were similar books available for other neurodiverse conditions.
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