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Discussion: An Army of One, Autism in SF - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Discussion: An Army of One, Autism in SF
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From: chordatesrock Date: January 12th, 2013 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not an expert on fictional representation of autism spectrum disorders, but here are the works that come to mind:

1. Arthur, the children's cartoon on PBS, has an episode featuring a special new friend with Asperger's syndrome.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is a story whose first-person narrator has autism... but which was not well-received by autistic people on the grounds that it was inaccurate.

3. The Speed of Dark by, I believe, Elizabeth Moon.

4. The earlier seasons of The Big Bang Theory are usually regarded as accurate, but still have a mixed reception within the autistic community, because apparently holding up an accurate example of an autistic person as something to laugh at doesn't sit well with them.

5. I believe Glee portrayed a character whose Asperger's manifested solely as a desire and willingness to insult people.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 13th, 2013 07:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I'm not an expert on fictional representation of autism spectrum disorders, but here are the works that come to mind:<<

Thank you!

>>1. Arthur, the children's cartoon on PBS, has an episode featuring a special new friend with Asperger's syndrome.<<

I looked that up, and wow, it seems really sweet. There are some good resources about it:
http://media-dis-n-dat.blogspot.com/2010/04/pbss-arthur-makes-friend-with-aspergers.html
http://blog.autismspeaks.org/2010/04/04/arthur/
http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2010/04/22/watch-the-arthur-aspergers-episode-online.htm

This is the kind of entertainment I really like to see. It takes bits of real life and explores them through storytelling so that people can think about them. It lets everybody have characters who are like them. That is very much the same kind of thing I hope to accomplish with this series.

>>3. The Speed of Dark by, I believe, Elizabeth Moon.<<

Added to my wishlist.

Huh, that reminds me of The Truth Machine, whose protagonist is a genius with odd coping mechanisms. I was extremely displeased that he got normalized during the story. I kind of shredded it in a review, for that and other reasons ... and that was one of two occasions when an author thanked me for that kind of feedback.

>>4. The earlier seasons of The Big Bang Theory are usually regarded as accurate, but still have a mixed reception within the autistic community, because apparently holding up an accurate example of an autistic person as something to laugh at doesn't sit well with them.<<

I can see that. From a literary perspective, it is common to introduce new or marginalized character types as comic relief first. That's listed as a stop-trope in several different identity literature canons. I think it's a cart-before-horse problem, really. People use the human tendency to joke about things that unsettle them, without stopping to think that you should establish new ideas in a neutral-to-positive manner first before fooling around with them.

>>5. I believe Glee portrayed a character whose Asperger's manifested solely as a desire and willingness to insult people.<<

*wince* Added to list of Mistakes Not To Make.

So far I've only found one character with a really fricative streak, and that's because he get pushed into new responsibilities and flakes over the lack of structure (among other things). And frankly I think even a neurotypical person would've melted down over that.
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