Special Needs Resources and Recommended Reading



When I first realized that my child had special needs, naturally I wanted to learn everything I could on how to help her. I checked out all the books on autism from the library, but found them mostly to be parents personal stories; helpful, but not exactly what I was looking for- same with the local book stores. The librarian didn’t have any recommendations. When we had her evaluated by a specialist team, I asked them for book recommendations and got none.

I haven’t been very successful at getting professionals to recommend books (I think they were afraid that I’d miss-read the information, since I don’t have an educational background in child development ~eyeroll~), so it took me longer to find them than I would have liked. That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorites with you!

  • These books aren’t just for parents with special needs kids; I’ll note which ones would be especially helpful for families of children without special needs, so that they can better understand what’s going on with special needs families.

Behavior-Related Books for Children on the Autistic Spectrum and with other Special Needs

It Takes Two To Talk: A Practical Guide For Parents of Children With Language Delays It Takes Two to Talk– The first book we bought, helpful for encouraging children to talk.  It did work much better than what I was doing before- before the book I would talk incessantly, thinking that the more I talked the more she’d pick up.  Not true, she needed simple sentences and lots of patient waiting and encouragement to coax the words out. I suppose I should say it helps rather than ‘works’ – My little one is still very speech delayed, but is making steady progress, which I see as success!
Son Rise: The Miracle Continues Sonrise: The DVD set is actually what we found most useful.  Sometimes we don’t have time to read all the books we’d like to, watching movies is faster and my husband and I are learning the same thing at the same time, which helps.  Sonrise is similar to Floortime.  I love that Sonrise is about accepting your child as they are and gently but persistently encouraging them to learn and do what needs to be done in life.
Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensational Kids is about Sensory Processing Disorder and is one of my favorite books.  Sensational Kids is a book I would recommend everyone who works with or is around children read. It explains why different children react differently to stimuli and how developmental delays can present in children who are mostly normal functioning.  Reading this book I ‘saw’ so many children that I knew through the years: The 5th grader who was smart but could not ride a bike or tie her shoes, the second grader who had no impulse control whatesoever but could sit and play board games for hours. It also helped me with my daughter, explaining things like why she seems to have a very high pain tolerance, but a very low noise tolerance.  Suggestions are made for what parents can do to help these children too, which we have integrated into our home with success.
The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder, Revised EditionThe Out of Sync Child is also about Sensory Processing Disorder, and focuses on what the parents can do to help their child.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children The Explosive Child– This book was a little old for us (it’s about children who are more verbal) but I thought the content was very helpful anyway.  The book tells parents of children who ‘explode’ or melt down often how to talk them through situations. These children are different than just strong willed children- they aren’t exploding as a manipulation tactic, but because they do not have the capability of censoring input and output like the rest of us do. Again, helpful ideas are given for parents to use and help their children.

Mommy, Teach Me: Preparing Your Preschool Child for a Lifetime of LearningMommy Teach Me isn’t specifically a special needs book, but it is full of Montessori-type activities to do with toddlers and pre-schoolers, which is great for teaching  special needs children basic skills like how to hold a pencil right, motor control, and pre-reading skills.  The activities in this book are fun and inexpensive.

Diet-Related Books for Children on the Autistic Spectrum and with other Special Needs

Special-Needs Kids Eat Right: Strategies to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Focus, Learn, and ThriveSpecial Needs Kids Eat Right by Judy Converse (she has another book coming out that I can’t wait to review) is one of the first books I read about dietary interventions with special needs children.  This book is primarily about the gluten free casein free diet, but it is a good introduction to dietary intervention and special needs kids.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome (2010 New Edition) and Internal Bliss-GAPS Cookbook (2 Books)Gut and Psychology Syndrome This is my favorite overview book for why and how dietary interventions work with special needs kids. See more in my Gut-Brain Connection post.  As you know, we are on this diet now and seeing great improvement.

GAPS Guide (Simple Steps to Heal Bowels, Body and Brain)The GAPS Guide was a helpful introduction to the GAPS diet and is helpful for those of us who are overwhelmed with the idea of making such a drastic change!  For those who want to start GAPS, it gets easier, I promise!
Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through DietBreaking the Vicious Cycle – This book is about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is also what GAPS is based on.  If GAPS seems a little too overwhelming for you, then just SCD as described in this book might be a little more doable. Personally, we have done a combination of the two.  I think reading both books is helpful.

Other Resources for Children on the Autistic Spectrum and with other Special Needs

Other resources around the web:

Autism Army Mom: A humorous blog about her autistic daughter. I love this blog because Lynn does such a great job telling the stories of everyday life with a child with autism.   I’ll warn you, though, there is ‘adult’ language used on her site.

Do2Learn: This site has free picture icons, we have used them in social stories before. I haven’t subscribed to their paid service before, but I’m sure that would be helpful too.

Autism Treatment Evaluation: This is a checklist that can be used as a more objective look at what’s working as you try different treatments.

Autism Diagnostic Criteria: This is a checklist used for diagnosing autism.  It may be helpful for you to look over if you suspect delays with your child.

Therapeutic Horseback Riding:  We recently started therapeutic horseback riding, or hippotherapy. We had to take a break because it’s so cold right now, but we’ll be doing it again in the spring. Horseback riding provides a  unique movement for special needs kids, which I believe can help their brains to connect where they need to. We saw improvement in balance, talking, and emotional regulation after starting horses, which honestly surprised me!

Is this helpful to you? Sign up for email updates so you don’t miss any posts!  I’m going to have posts coming up with dietary supplements that have been helpful for us, and also some of our favorite toys that have been used for completing occupational and physical therapy objectives.

Blog Update: I’m working on a big project that I’ve been talking about on Facebook a little bit- come join us there if you’d like– that I hope to have out later this month or next :)

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About Cara

Cara is the main author here at Health Home and Happiness. She loves the health and energy that eating well and playing well provides and has a goal to share what she's learned with as many families interested in making healthy changes as possible.

She helps other families achieve health in simple steps with the GAPS Starter Package, The Empowered Mother Pregnancy Resource, and helps them stock their freezer for busy days with Grain-Free Freezer Cooking Guide.


  1. Thanks Cara for the book recommendations, and especially to the Autism Army Mom site! I need more blogs to subscribe to that are about raising asd kiddos (it helps me feel not so alone in this crazy journey!).
    I also like The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, and 10 Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew. The last book made ASD easier for my son’s grandparents and other family members to understand.

  2. The book that changed our lives (about 8 years ago and I haven’t needed to look since so I am sure there is tons more out there now)was Enzymes for Autism and other Neurological Conditions by Karen L. Defelice. It opened our eyes (we saw ourselves as children as well as our own children in the anecdotes)and then changed our world (essentially the combination of food enzymes and a few other supplements that made a world of difference for all of us).

    • That sounds like one I’d like to look into too! I’ve just started with enzymes a little bit, but I don’t know much about them.

  3. Appreciate the recommendations and reviews.

  4. You are such a good mama, Cara. Your positive spirit, determination and down-to-earth philosophy are truly inspiring.

  5. Thanks for the shout-out Cara…and your warning about salty language is entirely deserved :)

  6. Another great resource that supports familes that have children with special needs through healing with food and direct parental support.

  7. I stumbled upon your site this morning while looking for a cranberry muffin recipe- they were fabulous!
    I think your book list for special needs is great, I would second your choices. I am a chiropractor that focuses on pediatric, prenatal and family care. As a chiro that works with children with SPD I would recommend considering adding a chiro to your team of health care providers. The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association has listing of docs that enjoy helping kids and have specialized training in many areas, including neurosensory integration therapy! Find someone in your area at http://www.icpa4kids.org

    Your site is great, keep sharing information about how healthy life choices contribute to healthy kids and families!


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