Those who have struggled through intense challenges have a lot to teach us about the human spirit. These 10 books highlight people who have refused to let their impairments stop them from doing what they wanted in life, and in the process can show us what really matters. If you're a fan of uplifting reads, try this list of books based on inspiring true stories.

10 Inspiring Books About People Living With Disabilities

  1. "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller
  2. "Planet of the Blind: A Memoir" by Stephen Kuusisto
  3. "Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism" by Temple Grandin
  4. "Tough As They Come" by Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton
  5. "Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter" by Kate Clifford Larson
  6. "Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him" by Sally and Nathan Clarkson
  7. "Skin Deep: All she wanted was a mummy, but was she too ugly to be loved?" by Casey Watson
  8. "Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's" by John Elder Robison
  9. "Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most" by Timothy Shriver
  10. "Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love" by Jay and Katherine Wolf

SSG Travis Mills Tells His Story

Who Was Helen Keller?

Helen Keller was an author and speaker who was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She is famous for being the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Left unable to see or hear at a young age, Helen struggled to communicate until she was taught sign language by Anne Sullivan. Their story became popular from the play and film "The Miracle Worker." Not only did Helen learn to communicate, but she attended a university, wrote books, and spoke out about political causes she believed in. Her story has long been synonymous with the movement for greater recognition and opportunity for disabled persons.

Timothy Shriver On The Special Olympics

More Information

While there are many memoirs written by successful people, it's important to remember that success takes many different forms. These profiles of individuals and their triumphs in spite of disabilities demonstrate the need to accord respect and love to all people. The 10 books on this list highlight a range of conditions and the insights of people who live with them.

First up, at #1, we have "The Story of My Life." Helen Keller gives readers a glimpse of her first 22 years of life, particularly the relationship with her dedicated teacher, Anne Sullivan, who taught her to spell the names of objects with her fingers.

Helen Keller reveals the joy in her early accomplishments, including the first time she learned how to spell the word "water," and the realization that it was actually the fluid flowing over her hand. This woman's ability to overcome the loss of multiple senses shows the folly of underestimating people.

Coming in at #2 is "Planet of the Blind: A Memoir." Born prematurely, Stephen Kuusisto's retinas failed to fully develop. In the book, he divulges his efforts to conceal his lack of sight by wearing thick-lens glasses as a child, and his struggles with confidence as he reached adulthood.

His Labrador retriever, Corky, gave him the awakening he needed to chase his dreams of being a poet and a writer. His journey shows that it's never too late to get started.

At #3, we have "Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism." Temple Grandin, an animal scientist, narrates her experiences living with autism. She intertwines her perspective as a scientist with that of someone whose window into the world is different from most.

Grandin explores the idea of thinking in a visual way, and how her unique thought processes give her insight into the animals she studies. This title not only describes the experience of autism, but offers invaluable advice on how to connect with those who live with the condition.

The #4 choice is "Tough As They Come." A few days before his 25th birthday, Travis Mills was caught in an I.E.D. blast while serving in Afghanistan. The experience left him a quadruple amputee. Though he survived, he didn't know how he would face the future with no limbs. Mills describes the willpower he needed while going through rehab and eventually coming to terms with his new life, exhibiting remarkable strength and perseverance.

At #5, we have "Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter." Kate Clifford Larson tells the story of Rosemary Kennedy, who was intellectually disabled. Though she grew up in a famous family, her condition was kept hidden due to fear of public ridicule.

The book doesn't shy away from the insensitivity of Rosemary's father, especially when he authorized Rosemary to be lobotomized in her early 20s. After being isolated from the family, she was later reunited with her siblings, who adored her. The author reveals how Rosemary's plight led to her siblings' dedication to the cause of helping people living with disabilities.

Coming in at #6 is "Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him." Nathan Clarkson endured a great deal of stigma as he was struggling with anxiety and learning issues as a child. His mother, Sally Clarkson, chose to view his unstoppable energy as a strength rather than a weakness.

Sally and Nathan let readers into their loving relationship as mother and son, and the book is instructive for anyone whose children are labeled unfairly.

At #7, we have "Skin Deep." Casey Watson was a foster mother to a girl named Phillipa, who had been excluded from her school and rejected by her mother, living with fetal alcohol syndrome. Watson was shocked as the little girl asked "Am I ugly, Mummy?"

Even with many years of experience in foster care, this moment made Casey realize that she and her husband Mike were starting out on a challenging journey. In this book, Casey gives invaluable insight on F.A.S. and its consequences. She shares a story of empathy toward people who have never been taught to love themselves.

Next, at #8, we have "Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's." While growing up in the 60s, John Elder Robison knew that he was different, only he could not tell why. It wasn't until he was 39 that he learned he had Asperger's. Robison details how he struggled to fit in and what he accomplished despite these difficulties.

At #9, we have "Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most." As the chairman of the Special Olympics, Timothy Shriver has interacted with children who have intellectual disabilities. Shriver shares the life wisdom these people have given him, showing their strength and the kindness they exhibit.

Last, at #10, we have "Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love." Katherine Wolf suffered a brain stroke in April 2008. A young wife and mother, having given birth to her son six months earlier, she underwent a microsurgery that saw part of her brain removed. Her husband Jay Wolf stood by her throughout her slow rehabilitation process, sticking together in their commitment to one another.

Life struggles can at times leave us devastated and lost. Sometimes it takes the encouraging story of a person who has triumphed over adversity to remind us what we're capable of. Stories about people living with disabilities are filled with love, hope, and the courage to keep going.

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