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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Saviors and Sinners

I haven't been posting a lot lately mostly because I just felt so out of it (FTR I have LJ too that has been neglected as well) and posting hasn't been on my priority list. Well to change that I decided I wanted to put forth a recant of a topic that I like talking about.

-Writing autistic characters

I state this topic a lot, but I approaching this from another side. A side that has been touched a lot but I never really discussed it; and that is writing from the perspective of an non-aut parent. Writers do it a lot to the point of creating a bizarre schism between the main perspective and the alternating one. It's seen with 'House Rules' mostly and even with 'With the Light' there is the same parallel POVs. One reason this happens is because the writer (NT mostly) envisions that that autistic view point is so alien that the reader will never understand and we need an NT guide (the parent) to make sense of it or to have it as the main view point because we certaintly can't focus it on the autistic.

This is frustrating as an autistic person, because while parent focused stories are awesome and full of jazz, the autistic POV stories are few to none, and if done, often have 'translator' character to help the reader. Autistic characters are different to write yes, but they are not impossible to empathize and connect. I got a lot of push-back and arguing from beta readers and ex-RP partners that couldn't relate to Tikaani. I would take it seriously if I didn't work my ass off to make sure Tikaani could be approachable to NT readers. The thing is though I didn't have to make him approachable to NTs at all, I could make him a character for autists alone and tell all the NTs to GTFO. The thing is I wanted Tikaani (and at one point Wilson another autistic character of mine) to be teaching character. To be a reference point for readers, if they can befriend and connect to a fictional character. Maybe connecting to a real autist wouldn't be so tricky.

The deal is that people find it tricky. Enough that most autism narratives (fictional ones and non fic) are all done with parents. Writers never consider the autistic perspective unless they want a "exotic" and "foreign" viewpoint. Autists are never normalize or seen as regular people. They are done either to be "sooo straaaange" or be a character obstacle for the parent to defeat. It's is done time and time again in media. What is really haunting about this. Is that in real life a similar effect is also happen. If I am a non-autistic parent raising an autist. I will get a lot of readers and support. As an autist myself with his blog, non aut readers like to read my blog to 'gawk' or say how 'brave' and 'inspiring' I am. Parents will bring up their kids and compare them to me. In fact in many circles, autistic children have been used as "street cred" measuring sticks. I have seen parents time and time again use their own kids and compare them to an autistic adult to validate adult's DX (Well you seeeeem like my son so you must be on the spectrum) it's mind boggling but common.

The point of this is bring up a fact. Autisitc perspectives in fiction are not "weird" or alien. Writing them and making them relatable is not hard. It says a lot about a culture when and about you, you think you can't relate to me because of my DX.

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