A comprehensive guide on how to write a character with autism, covering everything from dialogue to sensory processing.
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Writing a character with autism can be a challenge, but it can also be a rewarding experience. If you take the time to understand the condition and create a believable, three-dimensional character, you will give your readers a rich and meaningful experience.
There are a few things to keep in mind when writing a character with autism. First, autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is a wide range of symptoms and severity. This means that not all autistic characters will be the same. It is important to do your research and make sure you have a good understanding of the condition before you begin writing.
Second, remember that autistic people are individuals just like everyone else. Just because someone has autism does not mean they are not capable of love, empathy, or human connection. In fact, many autistic people have remarkable gifts and talents. Be sure to give your character the same dignity and respect you would give any other human being.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who has experience with autism. There are many resources available to help you write an accurate and realistic portrayal of an autistic character. With some research and effort, you can create a complex and nuanced character that will stay with your readers long after they finish your book.
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There is no one “type” of autism and symptoms can range from very mild to very severe. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the term used to describe all types of autism.
Some people with ASD are able to live relatively normal lives, but others may need lifelong support. People with ASD might have difficulty understanding what other people are feeling or thinking. They may also have trouble communicate their own feelings and needs. Many people with ASD prefer routine and may become very upset if there are changes to their daily schedule. Some people with ASD also have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which means they might be oversensitive to sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes, or touch.
The Different Types of Autism
There are different types of autism, each with its own set of symptoms. The three most common types are autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
Autistic disorder, also called “classic” autism, is the most severe form of the disorder. Children with autistic disorder have significant problems with social interaction and communication. They may also have repetitive behaviors and interests.
Asperger’s syndrome is a less severe form of autism. Children with Asperger’s syndrome generally have fewer problems with communication than those with autistic disorder, but they still have difficulty with social interaction. They may also have repetitive behaviors and interests.
PDD-NOS is a milder form of autism. Children with PDD-NOS generally have some difficulties with social interaction and communication, but they do not have the same problems as those with autistic disorder or Asperger’s syndrome. They may also have repetitive behaviors and interests.
Writing an Autistic Character
There is no one way to write an autistic character, as autism is a complex neurodiversity with a wide range of manifestations. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure that your character is sensitively and realistically portrayed.
Research is crucial when writing any minority character, and this is especially true for autistic characters. There are a number of autistic-led organizations which offer resources and support, such as the Autism Self Advocacy Network and the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. In addition, there are many autobiographies and memoirs written by autistic authors which can provide insight into what it’s like to live with autism.
When creating your character, it’s important to remember that autism is not a single uniform condition. Each autistic person experiences the world in their own individual way, and will have their own strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Try to avoid making sweeping generalizations about autism or using stereotypes when writing your character.
It’s also important to keep in mind that not all autistic people want or need a diagnosis. Some people may identify as autistic without ever seeking a formal diagnosis, while others may feel that the label doesn’t accurately describe their experience. As such, it’s important not to make assumptions about whether or not your character is formally diagnosed.
The Different Perspectives of Autism
There are many different perspectives of autism. Autism is a neurological condition that affects the way an individual processes information. It affects about 1 in 59 children in the United States. Autism can present itself in a variety of ways, and no two People With Autism are exactly alike.
Some common characteristics of autism include:
-Delayed or absent speech
-Delayed or abnormal social skills
-Sensory sensitivities or processing issues
-Unusual fixations or repetitive behaviors
People with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have difficulty with social interaction,markedly delayed speech, and might engage in repetitive behaviors such as spinning orfixating on objects. Some people with ASD might also have Intellectual Disability (ID), which is characterized by reduced cognitive functioning and adaptive skills in comparison to neurotypical individuals. Others might have higher than average IQ scores and abilities in specific areas, such as music or art.
When writing a character with ASD, it is important to keep in mind that there is not one “type” of person with ASD. Every individual is unique and will experience the world in their own way. In order to create a well-rounded and believable character, it is important to do your research and consult with people who are on the autism spectrum about their experiences.
The Pros and Cons of Writing an Autistic Character
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a mental condition that is characterized by difficulties with social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. It is estimated that 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with ASD, and the condition is four times more likely to affect boys than girls.
There are many different fictional portrayals of autistic characters, both in books and on screen. Some of these portrayal have been accused of being unrealistic or offensive, while others have been praised for their accuracy and sensitivity.
There are pros and cons to writing an autistic character. On the plus side, it can help to increase understanding and awareness of ASD among the general public. It can also be a very rewarding experience for the author, as it allows them to explore a different perspective and create a complex and compelling character. However, there are also some potential pitfalls to avoid.
Some autistic people argue that they are tired of seeing autism used as a plot device or source of inspiration for fictional characters, rather than being portrayed as realistic human beings with their own unique experiences. It is important to avoid stereotypes and over-simplifications when writing an autistic character, as this can be harmful and offensive.
Another potential problem is the danger of writing an inaccurate or insensitive portrayal that could do more harm than good in terms of raising public awareness of ASD. It is therefore important to do your research and consult with people who are on the autism spectrum before starting to write your character.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing an Autistic Character
Whether you are writing a character with autism for a book, movie, or play, it is important to be respectful and accurate in your portrayal. While there is no one “right” way to write an autistic character, there are some things you should avoid.
Here are some general tips for writing an autistic character:
Do your research
If you have never interacted with someone with autism before, it is important to do your research. There are many resources available (books, articles, websites, etc.) that can help you better understand the condition. It is also helpful to talk to people who have autism or know someone who does.
There are many myths and stereotypes about autism that need to be avoided. For example, not all people with autism are geniuses, and not all people with autism are nonverbal. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is a wide range of symptoms and severity levels. Each individual with autism is unique and should be treated as such in your writing.
Don’t try to fit everyone into the same mold
Just as no two people with autism are exactly alike, no two autistic characters should be alike either. Avoid using clichés and stereotypes when creating your character. Instead, focus on creating a believable and realistic character that just happens to have autism.
The Different Ways to Write an Autistic Character
There is no one correct way to write an autistic character. Writers should aim to create a realistic and relatable character by understanding the different ways autism can manifest itself.
One common misconception is that all autistic people are the same. In reality, autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is a wide range of symptoms and behaviors that can fall under the autism umbrella. Some autistic people may be nonverbal, while others may speak fluently. Some may be highly intelligent, while others may have difficulty with basic academic skills. The important thing to remember is that there is no “type” of autistic person – every individual on the spectrum is unique.
While there are many different ways to write an autistic character, here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Do your research
If you’re not already familiar with autism, it’s important to do your research before you start writing. There are tons of resources available online and in libraries – take advantage of them! Reading first-hand accounts from autistic people will give you valuable insights into what it’s like to live with autism.
2. Avoid stereotypes
There are a lot of negative stereotypes about autistic people in the media. Avoid creating a flat, one-dimensional character by Steer clear of clichés and generalizations about Autism. Remember that every autistic person is an individual with their own unique set of experiences and perspectives.
3. Be respectful
Writing about any marginalized group comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Be respectful of the experiences of real autistic people – don’t use autism as a gimmick or punchline in your story. Keep in mind that some autistic people may not want their diagnosis to be public knowledge, so be sure to get consent before including this information in your story.
4. Write from personal experience (if possible)
If you have personal experience with autism (whether you’re on the spectrum yourself or you know someone who is), writing from this perspective can add depth and realism to your story. However, it’s important to note that everyone experiences autism differently, so even if you have personal experience with the condition, it’s still important to do your research and avoid making assumptions about what all autistic people think or feel
The Different Reactions to an Autistic Character
The Different Reactions to an Autistic Character
Parents often worry about how their child with autism will be treated by others, especially when it comes to social interactions. Will other children be accepting? How will they react when they meet someone with autism for the first time?
There is no one answer to this question, as every child is unique and will therefore be met with different reactions. However, there are some general trends that can be observed in the way people react to autistic characters in fiction.
Some people may feel uncomfortable around autistic characters, as they can be seen as unpredictable or difficult to understand. This is often due to a lack of knowledge or understanding about autism, and it can lead to misunderstandings or even fear in some people.
Other people may find autistic characters refreshingly honest and direct, as they are often not motivated by the same social conventions that dictate the behavior of neurotypical characters. This can lead to a sense of camaraderie or friendship, as both parties are able to be themselves without pretense.
Still others may see autistic characters as a challenge, someone who requires extra effort to understand but is ultimately rewarding. This type of reaction is often seen in fictional stories where an autistic character forms a close bond with someone who takes the time to get to know them.
The Different Outcomes of Writing an Autistic Character
There are a lot of ways to write an autistic character. Some people with ASD will find themselves identify with characters like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory or Abed from Community. Others might find that shows like Sesame Street or The Rosie O’Donnell Show provide a more relatable experience. And still, others might feel that none of these portrayals are accurate to their own lived experience.
The important thing is that you, as the writer, do your research. While it’s important to not stereotype or make assumptions about people with ASD, it’s also important to understand that there is a wide range in terms of how autism manifests itself. There are many resources available (such as books, articles, websites, and personal accounts) that can help you to better understand what it’s like to live with ASD.
Once you have a good understanding of the different ways that autism can manifest itself, you can then start to think about how you want your character to be portrayed. It’s important to remember that there is no “right” way to write an autistic character – the most important thing is that your portrayal is accurate and respectful.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.