Books about invisible & undiagnosed disability
Quick Things You Need To Know:
- I’m trying to make my articles accessible off Facebook. So I’ll include that below. But first- books!
- Find more books validating the experience of kids with social disabilities right here
- Many of these books cover microaggressions and emotional labor that goes into hiding or masking an invisible disability, to accommodate non-disabled folks.
Quick & Messy Book List:
- Red, A Crayon’s Story
- Noah The Narwhal
- I’ll Tell You Why I Can’t Wear Those Clothes
- El Deafo (Bell) – In some of the book, she hides her disability to avoid being judged, and this comes with its own set of hurdles.
- A Tiger Tail – Allegory for the stress of worrying about what will happen when folks find out, and touches on the prep work that has to go into hiding it.
- Perfectly Norman
- Fish In A Tree – Chapter book. Diagnosed dyslexia
- The Boy Who Loved Math (Paul Erdos)- Did an article about this book when discussing interdependence. That’s over here.
- Odd boy out (Albert Einstein)- brown & I Am Albert Einstein (Meltzer) – Einstein would be a perfect example for this list, but still haven’t found a great book about him. Prefer the one by brad meltzer. Boh are fine, but not great. Neither are stories, lean toward didactic. Both contain narratives of how he’s odd/weird/whatever, but in the end he’s remembered not for those things, but for being a genius. Which is fine, I guess, but not worth reading. Ages 4+ disability history, jewish history
- Not Quite Narwhal – Sima – this is perfect and i love it. Cute, funny, and simple enough for 3 but entertaining for adults and older kids. The challenges the little unicorn faces trying to do narwhal things feels suuuper validating. Simple story but a sense of adventure – a lot packed into a very short book. Additional keywords: unicorns, narwhals, validating for neurodiversity & invisible disabilit. I’ve seen a lot of these pop up as books for coding transracial adoption, but it eels…wrong. So don’t use it for that.
- Quackers – wong – Quackers thinks he’s a duck just like all the other ducks, until he meets a cat. he hates getting wet, all the food ducks eat, and can’t communicate with the ducks, but is way better at doing cat stuff. still misses and loves his duck friends and family, so goes back to them, but becomes a part of both groups. This is similar to Not Quite Narwhal but less memorable. makers of color. AAPI maker
- Bunnybear – same idea, but clumsier and not as entertaining
“But you don’t look autistic!”
Is. Not. A. Compliment.
When I disclose the fact that I’m autistic to people IRL, it feels like getting slapped. I’m not alone in this. I don’t know ANY autistic person who enjoys this.
Let’s unpack this microaggression:
1. It’s just pain RUDE. You don’t say “But you don’t LOOK like you could run a marathon” to someone who just ran a freaking marathon. Manners!
2. It betrays your ignorance. Don’t negate people about crap you don’t know about. The only people who throw this nonsense my way are folks who rely on stereotypes and media depictions of autistic characters (guess what – those actors ARE NOT ACTUALLY AUTISTIC).
3. You’re basing what autism looks like off your cousin’s dentist’s 4-year-old. Lady, you don’t look like my chimney sweep’s allistic sister, but that doesn’t mean you don’t look allistic.
4. You don’t neg people. Again, MANNERS. I just told you a huge part of my identity, how I think, and a core part of what makes me ME. I’m proud of it. I’m proud that that I’ve made it to this age alive in an culture that’s designed to kill me off. You don’t slap that aside and erase it.
5. The fact that I’m contorting myself to fit in a public space is called masking. It’s VERY VERY HARD. I do it so I don’t lose my job, get ostracized from the community, and so no one calls the cops on me or has my kids taken away. Negging my all that work erases and dismisses the huge amount emotional labor I’m putting into having a conversation with you.
6. If you consider ‘looking allistic’ to be some kind of gold standard, what does that say about those of us who don’t pass? Should we be ashamed of ourselves?
You don’t compliment Asian people by telling us we look white. That’s white supremacy.
You don’t compliment me for being thin unless you think fat is something to be ashamed of.
You don’t tell a person with a disability that they don’t look disabled. That’s ableism.
6. You, as an allistic person. Don’t get to define what autism LOOKS like, or how my identity shows up on my body.
So when you claim an autistic adult isn’t an expert in autism because we don’t fit your narrow definition of what what autistic people look like….
As a justification for why we can’t possibly offer any insight about how your autistic kid experiences the word…
And use that as an excuse to boost allistic ‘experts’ who read up on autism and study a narrow swath of autistic people OVER #ActuallyAutistic people…
That’s ableist. Cut it out.
Follow the group We Are Like Your Child and listen to ACTUALLY AUTISTIC PEOPLE. They do a ton of emotional labor offering insight. Center this voice and boost it.