10 Must-Read Books For Parenting A Child With Special Needs

There are eleven separate chronic diagnoses between my two children.

Seven times I have sat in a beige room on a beige couch and heard a doctor say the words I knew were coming, but still didn’t want to hear.

Your child has…


Bipolar Disorder, Type 1

Anxiety Disorder


Sensory Processing Disorder


Learning Disorders

Ten must read books for special needs parents - Autism, Bipolar, ADHD, Learning Disorders

I have said it before and I will say it again –

A doctor tells you your child has a diagnosis…then you go home.

Nothing immediately changes.

The mess I made in the kitchen, trying to get out of the house to be on time to the appointment will still be there waiting for me to clean up.

The meltdowns will still happen just as often, in a haze of anxiety and stress.

My husband will still be just as frustrated that our life has become a chaotic, jumbled mess of need.

In my experience, the only thing new, post-diagnosis, is the fierce pain (literally physical pain) in my chest and the desire to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can, in order to understand and help my sons.



It helps our children when we seek out resources to be sure.

But honestly, I think finding books that explain, encourage, and speak frankly – I think it has helped me much, much more.

The more I know, the more empowered I feel, the more our life makes sense, and the more patient I am with my boys’ needs.

I want it for any parent facing their child’s diagnosis – understanding, expertise, encouragement, and confidence.

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My Top 10 Must Read Books For Parenting A Child With Special Needs

Kids in the Syndrome Mix of ADHD, LD, Autism Spectrum, Tourette’s, Anxiety, and More 

By: Martin Kutcher

This book is fantastic. More than anything else, the author understands the fluid nature of our children’s diagnoses and writes well about the overlap we often see. I cannot recommend it enough as an overall resource.


By: Sally and Nathan Clarkson

This is a new favorite. Sally and Nathan both give their perspectives (mother and son) about growing up with mental illness and ADHD. Encouraging and raw – I have already read it several times.

No More Meltdowns

By: Jed Baker

If your child has violent, out of control behavior and frequent meltdowns, this book is fantastic. Not just for children on the spectrum, the author gives realistic examples and approaches to managing, and ultimately preventing, out of control behaviors.

The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun 

By: Carol Stock Kranowitz

This book is the gold standard for helping children with sensory processing disorder. It includes real life examples and solutions throughout.

The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism 

By: Kristine Barnett

One of my absolute favorite books ever! Written by a momma, just like me and you, about her day-to-day life raising and loving her son.

The Way I See It 

By: Temple Grandin

Dr. Grandin gives us a peek into her mind and autism. I think it is a wonderful, must-read for parenting a child on the spectrum. I would much rather learn about autism, and how it affects my son, from someone who is actually autistic themselves.

Dyslexia 101: Truth, Myths and What Really Works

By: Marianne Sunderland

The author is a homeschool mother who has been homeschooling her 8 children (7 of whom are dyslexic) since 1995. She is also a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor. Marianne understands how it feels to be completely overwhelmed and frustrated by the load of information (and misinformation) about dyslexia that exists today. She provides real life examples of how to help and encourage our dyslexic children.

The Bipolar Child

By: Dimitri Papolos

The very first book about early on-set bipolar disorder and now in its third edition, this book is a comprehensive look at an illness that is only just now being understood. It includes sections on home life, school, medications and co-morbid conditions. It is one of the few books I have found that has helped me understand and accept my son’s bipolar type 1 diagnosis.

What To Expect When Parenting A Child With ADHD

By: Penny Williams

This is not your typical book on ADHD. Williams keeps it real, providing authentic, down in the trenches, trial-by-fire advice from a momma who has lived it. Real life from a real mom.

Helping Your Anxious Child

By: Ronald Rapee PhD, Ann Wignall D Psych, Susan Spence PhD, Heidi Lyneham PhD, and Vanessa Cobham PhD 

This is a book, written by experts, but with strategies for helping our anxious children in their everyday lives.  It teaches skills based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to aid you in helping your child overcome intense fears and worries. There is a significant focus on how to relieve our children’s anxious feelings while parenting with compassion.

These are my recommendations. What would you add to the list?

For more about parenting a child with special needs, please also consider my two books –

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