Autism is so prevalent in our children's generation that I would imagine most of us have been touched by it in some way. I won't pretend to be at all knowledgeable on the subject, but I wanted to pass on a few good book recommendations that I have found inspiring or educational:
Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure by Paul A. Offit, M.D.
Dr. Offit is chief of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I am absolutely fascinated by the influence our media has over public opinion, and in his book, Dr. Offit explains away some of the confusion surrounding autism-related theories (such as parents' fear of vaccines caused by some rather questionable science and unbalanced media coverage). I would highly recommend this book for new parents who fear they can't fully trust their doctor's recommendations to vaccinate; at least this will give you one side of the story.
This book is incredible. Mr. Tammet is (or was, when he wrote this) a twenty-something autistic sevant, highly functioning on the autistic spectrum and living a completely independent life in spite of his challenges. His mind is amazing; he sees numbers as colors and shapes and is able to memorize an entirely foreign language in one week. I was enthralled by his description of memorizing the number pi to over 22,000 digits. He describes the numbers as a landscape, complete with rolling hills and geographic features that help him recall each and every digit perfectly.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
This was an interesting fictional novel narrated from the viewpoint of a 15-year old autistic boy. He sees the world around him from a completely unemotional perspective. One scene that sticks out in my mind was his feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the people and objects in a busy train station. He needs to find the information desk. While most people would simply scan the room until finding it, Christopher must place his hands next to his eyes to physically block out all of the extra stimuli, such as advertisements and faces. Once he finds the sign he is looking for, he imagines a red line on the floor between where he is standing and where he needs to be and walks along the line to cross the station. This book is a quick read and very interesting.