Monthly Book Recommendation: The Body Keeps the Score

Monthly Book Recommendation:  The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. 

As an educator, this is one of the most important books I have read this year.  

The Body Keeps the Score is packed full of research and personal illustrations for anyone interested in learning more about the effects of trauma on the body, including the accompanying physiology. 

If you work with children or adults who have had trauma (based on statistics, we all have, whether we realize or not), practical applications are found in “Part Five: Paths to Recovery.” 

This book is a must-read for teachers, psychologists, nurses, physicians (virtually anyone working closely with people). 

Monthly Book Recommendation: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity


This month, I am recommending the book:

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

If you are interested in a deeper understanding of the history of autism, this is a great and in-depth book to read.

The book definitely has some heft, and took me awhile to get through. In the afterward, Silberman shares that it took him five years to research the history of autism.

His main emphasis is a positive one: the world thrives with neurodiversity. He also advocates for people on the spectrum to have a larger role in advocating for themselves, and for a greater push in services. 

Note: The book is not without some controversy. My simplified read on his take regarding some controversial issues is: overall, autism has not increased dramatically, rather, now we have an increase due to society identifying autism and widening of the spectrum, and that vaccines have no bearing on the increase. Even if you disagree with some of his viewpoints (I felt his section on pollutants skimmed the surface), it is still a very worthwhile and great read! 

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Outliers

This book has been out for awhile, and I finally got to it! You may have seen the author on 60 Minutes, when the news show discussed parents holding back their children a year in school to give them an advantage. That was an unintentional byproduct of this book!

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallI recommend The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He makes nonfiction really interesting, as he posits his different theories for why things occur.

Gladwell’s point is that things don’t occur in a vacuum, though he does seem to make a shift towards the end of the book to emphasize the importance of hard work. If you haven’t read this book, I think you will enjoy it!

Monthly Book Recommendation: Grain Brain

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallI had a chance to read some good books this summer, and I really found this book to be fascinating:

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers   —written by neurologist David Perlmutter, MD.

An interesting point the author makes is…we all know diet can affect various aspects of our body, but we rarely think about how diet affects our brain. The author makes a compelling case for eliminating wheat from your diet (so much so, I have given it up!).

If you are interested in reading about a gluten free diet, or are curious just to know how diet can affect your brain, I highly recommend this book.

As to students, many children (though not all) on the autism spectrum have responded well and have shown improvement after being on a gluten free diet.

Happy reading!

Monthly Book Recommendation: Unleash the Power of the Female Brain

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallBecause teaching is a demanding job…this recommendation is for the educators–actually, for all women (sorry men, this book is written for women).

I recommend: Unleash the Power of the Female Brain, by Dr. Daniel Amen. You may have seen Dr. Amen on PBS, talking about his SPECT scans and mental health.

My husband bought me this book for me, and I really love it–I have the book all marked up (not that I have done it all!). This book discusses optimizing your health, and gives many practical steps. It talks about diet, supplements, exercise, different brain types, and hormones. It is very informative, and I think you will enjoy it!

Monthly Book Recommendation: Brain on Fire

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallMonthly book recommendation:

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

By Susannah Cahalan

There is still so much we do not understand about the brain, diseases, and the effects of disease and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI). I am always very interested and fascinated about stories and studies regarding the brain.

This book is a true story–and an eye opener, with lots to learn about how we view the brain, mental illness, etc.

Monthy Book Recommendation: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallMonthly book recommendation:

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

By Oliver Sacks

This book has been around for a long time (since 1970 with updates in 1985), but it is a real gem. Oliver Sacks, neurologist, discusses his unusual case histories. Knowing what we know about  autism (and having more sophisticated ways to detect abnormalities in the brain)–it is clear when reading this book that Oliver Sacks was ahead of his time. He adds a very human element to all his recordings of unusual things that can go wrong with the brain and body.

Monthy Book Recommendation: Born on a Blue Day

Monthly book recommendation:

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

Written by Daniel Tammet

This book is written by a man from England who is on the autism spectrum and is a savant. The title of the book can throw you off, because “blue” is usually associated with being sad, but that is not what the author, Daniel Tammet, is referring to. Tammet actually sees numbers and words in color, shapes, and different textures, and with this ability, he is able to do amazing figures in his head.

I always find savant abilities fascinating, but what I really appreciate about this book are the explanations Tammet gives for certain behaviors that are often associated with people on the spectrum. For example, he explains why he walked around the perimeter of the playground as a child, something I have observed as a teacher. He explains that he did not want to get bumped or hit with the ball. He talks about sensory issues and perfectionism, other traits I have observed. I am always so appreciative of insight from a person who is on the spectrum because people do have different experiences of the world based on sensory input and neurological makeup.

I highly recommend this book!

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Boy in the Moon

Monthly book recommendation:

The Boy in the Moon

Written by Ian Brown

There is something really special about a book that can take a person into the world of another. In his book, author and father Ian Brown, does just that. This book is about Walker, Ian’s son, who was born with a syndrome known as cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, a rare genetic mutation that affects about 100 people worldwide. It is also a book about the journey of these parents as they care for Walker.

This book is both beautiful and incredibly raw and honest at the same time.  Trying to understand the different realities of different people/parents and what they go through is why it is so important to read this book; the hours of screaming, the perpetual sleepless nights, the financial burden, trips and stays in the hospital, the beauty, the moments, the lessons, the guilt, searching, anger, and mostly the honesty and love…there is so much to this book.

Monthly Book Recommendation: Carly’s Voice

Monthly Book Recommendation:

Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism

Written by: Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann

I could not more highly recommend a book. This is a true story about a girl (now woman) named Carly who is on the autism spectrum and is nonverbal. I see this book as two separate stories:

  • the parents’ story (including Carly’s teachers)
  • Carly’s story

I am particularly drawn to books about autism that are told from the perspective of family members, and especially from the person with autism her/himself.

Carly learns to type at the age of ten, and is finally able to express her needs/wants–and witty personality (not a spoiler–it’s on the back cover of the book). One is able to read a first-hand account explaining many of the behaviors Carly exhibits and how it feels to be Carly with autism. It is significant, because this is all from a person who was presumed to have low intellectual functioning.

If you read this book, you will grow in both compassion and understanding. It is excellent.