Autism: We Are Not What You Think

What do you think of when you hear the word Autism? Do you think of a person with the mentality of a toddler, screaming and flapping their arms? Or do you think of Shaun Murphy, the brilliant but socially awkward doctor? Both of your assumptions are correct, but there is so much more that you don’t know. That’s why Autism is called a spectrum. No person experiences it the same.

Now, what would you say if I told you I was autistic? Yeah. I have what is known as Asperger’s syndrome, or high functioning Autism. This means that I am able to get along in society without much help. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my moments where I lose it and freak out. This is called a meltdown. I may also become very quiet and almost selectively mute when distressed, called a shutdown.

I think of it as an electrical malfunction. A meltdown is when everything suddenly becomes too much, like too many cords plugged into a wall overriding the circuit. It’s loud and may cause a fire. Obviously, an Autistic person isn’t going to burst into flames, but you get it.

Meanwhile, a shutdown is when the lights just suddenly go out. During this, an Autistic person folds in on themself, becoming quiet and withdrawn as a coping mechanism. They may stim in an attempt to self-soothe. This could involve rocking, humming, flapping, or anything else that could calm them down. In my experience, it’s best to just let us sort this out on our own, as we may get startled if you try to hug us or something. Just let us deal with it in our own way. 

Advertisements

How to Write a Character With Autism

First off, you want to decide if they’re high or lowfunctioning. This will have an impact on how they act in your story.

Secondly, and the most important, please do research. You need to do this for any character you write that is different than you are. A good website for the symptoms of Autism is Mayo Clinic.

Keep in mind that not everyone with Autism has the same symptoms. You definitely don’t need to make your character have all of the symptoms. However, make sure that they have enough, because otherwise, that will be PDD-NOS or Pervasive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

I’m sure you’re asking why you can’t go to the Autism Speaks website. Please don’t, because they have everything all wrong about the Autism community. They want to cure something that cannot be cured and believe Autism is akin to a death sentence, which it definitely isn’t.

Also, people with Autism and Aspergers have some different symptoms. Aspergers is usually diagnosed later in life. In addition, there is a real issue with diagnosis rates between males and females. Males with ASD tend to be diagnosed more frequently than females – and earlier on in life, too. For instance, I was diagnosed at eighteen with Aspergers. I am a female. 

Well, I think I’ve ranted enough. To wrap up, if you want to portray an Autistic person, please do your research and keep an open mind. Remember that we are not all the same. Let us have other things about ourselves and our personalities that make us interesting characters. Just because we see the world differently, doesn’t mean we’re bad. We have hopes and dreams, just like a neurotypical person does. 

For more information on how to write diverse characters well, see the general blog post on the topic.

Advertisements
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Diversity, Food for Thought, Resources, Writing Advice

Related Articles

Diversity FAQs For When You’re Confused

Diversity is a complex but important topic to speak about. You no doubt have lots of questions. Here are some FAQs to help you when you’re confused.

Is the Author Dead or Not?

The Death of the Author is a common idea in literature and media at large, but it’s not the only way you can look at an author’s involvement in their own story.

What Should You Do with Criticism?

Criticism can be hard to accept, but it is an important part of growing as an author. Here’s how to take it like a pro.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Great Plot

Trying to write an amazing story? Here are the things that you need to think about if you want to make a great, interesting plot.

How to Write Gay Characters Well In Your Stories

Writing gay characters well is easier than you’d think! All you need is an open mind and willingness to learn. Check out our tops for success!

Responses

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Hey Ouija! I love this article! I think it’s amazing! I had to keep it off the homepage because it doesn’t have a featured image, but if you can sort that out, I’m happy to put it up on the main page straight away!