6 Fantastic Memoirs About Living With Autism

Autism is underrepresented in the media, which is why stories about life with autism should be heard. Read on to learn about some real-life stories.

Author's Corner Diverse Voices Memoirs & Biographies Recommendations
Book covers of But Everyone Feels This Way, Fearlessly Different, and Drama Queen on an orangish-white background.

While there are some basic behaviors that come from being autistic, every autistic person is not going to have the exact same experiences. They may learn they have it as a small child or as a middle-aged adult. They could be on their own, or they could have a spouse and children as a support system. Some people may find their autism difficult to manage over time, while other people have figured out ways to make their own lives easier.

Whatever the situation might be, there are many different stories to tell about a real autistic experience, which is what these memoirs are about. These memoirs give first-hand accounts of the struggles that autism can bring and the ways that those struggles can be conquered.

But Everyone Feels This Way by Paige Layle

Book cover of "But Everyone Feels This Way" with a blond girls neutral face on the front from the shoulder up.

If someone does well in school, has a lot of friends, and is able to be happy in their everyday life, they’re normal, right? That is what the people around Paige Layle believed, as she described in But Everyone Feels This Way. However, Layle had some behaviors that most people would not describe as “normal.” She absolutely could not break from routines and would often cry due to confusion, among other habits. When Layle got an autism diagnosis, it changed her world. It told everyone that she was not exactly normal, and that’s okay. Layle’s book demonstrates that even though a person can fit well into society, that does not mean that they cannot be autistic.

How to Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe

Book cover of "How to be Autistic" with the outline of someone with long pink hair and a striped shirt on a muted green background.

Autism has become a large part of Charlotte Amelia Poe’s life. It has been an influence on many of their life experiences and has truly shaped their outlook. Poe talks about autism’s influences on the choices they have made in How to Be Autistic. They talk about everything from their time growing up in school to the wild activities they do in their free time to how various people have treated them over the course of their life. This memoir is a personal reflection about growing up with autism and how Poe became the person that they are today.

Fearlessly Different by Mickey Rowe

Book cover of "Fearlessly Different" with a person facing to the right in a large size and a smaller person sitting on a stool in a yellow light on a blue background.

Mickey Rowe’s dream was always to become an actor. However, when he was younger, he felt that dream was not going to be possible because of his autism. People, including directors, treated him differently because of his autism. Rowe talks about these experiences in his memoir Fearlessly Different. He also talked about his eventual realization that he could not let these people stop him and that he could be recognized for his talents. Rowe learned how to fight his way through a neurotypical society, which is what led him to the successful theater career that he has today. Rowe talks about how he decided to always be authentically himself and was able to achieve his dreams.

Drama Queen by Sara Gibbs

Book cover of "Drama Queen" with a young woman with colorful hair on the bottom and a white background.

When she was younger, Sara Gibbs never felt like people understood her. She was constantly called a drama queen for how emotional she could get. However, Gibbs had no idea where these emotions came from. She learned the reasoning behind those emotions when she was 30 and got an autism diagnosis. In Drama Queen, Gibbs talked about the difficulties that she faced in her youth and how those difficulties still linger into adulthood. Using her talents as a comedy writer, Gibbs also talks about how, with the right support, autism does not have to stop anyone from living a full life.

Autism in Heels by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Book cover of "Autism in Heels" with a women in a short white dress and red heels from the waist down facing away towards a wall.

Jennifer Cook O’Toole sees herself as a strong, confident, and stylish woman. Most people may think it is difficult to possess these traits while also having autism, but Cook O’Toole is always ready to prove those people wrong. As she talks about in her memoir, Autism in Heels, Cook O’Toole got diagnosed with autism when she was 35, and that diagnosis helped her gain more answers about the world. She recognizes the lack of representation when it comes to autistic women, and she wants to change that. Cook O’Toole is showing her journey as an autistic woman, and she hopes to connect to other women who feel left out of society.

The Electricity of Every Living Thing by Katherine May

Book cover of "The Electricity of Every Living Thing" with a tall orange tree with a blue background.

Katherine May has felt a lot of pressure in her life. That pressure came from her day-to-day life and from the world of motherhood. Something in May’s world felt odd and confusing, and she was not sure why. That is why she decided to take a 630-mile hike down the South West Coast path. Through this journey, May learned a lot about herself, including the eventual realization that she has autism. The Electricity of Every Living Thing talks about how important this hike was for May and how it helped her with many challenges. She also goes into detail about what it is like to be a mother with autism, as motherhood can already be pretty challenging. It has been a difficult road for May, but like the hike, she is always willing to take another step forward.

There are many more memoirs available to buy that will likely describe some different experiences with autism compared to the ones listed above. However, that does not mean that any of the memoirs are better or worse than each other in terms of authenticity. If anything, it demonstrates that everyone’s life experiences are unique, and that is why each of those lives should be celebrated. The memoirs listed above are terrific narratives about living with autism, and they each might be able to connect with a reader in their own special ways.

If you want to read more books about autism, click here.

To browse these books and more, check out our Neurodiverse Literature shelf on Bookshop.