Fictional Accounts of Autism

See also:    Film & Television   

Internet Resources

The notion of an autistic spectrum has far reaching significance in relation to how we regard autism culturally and how we read Haddon's novel about a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome. Since autistic disorders are genetic and neurological, our understandings of these disorders have changed with the rapid expansion of knowledge over the past twenty years in genetics and neurology. The idea of a genetic-neurological spectrum of autism re-emphasizes and transforms Sacks', Grandin's, and other writers' more humanist and spiritual suggestions of links between the autistic and the normal. Recent research in genetics and neurology shows both the almost unimaginable complexity of the physical workings of the mind and also the minuteness of the differences that lead to what seem such different outcomes. Thus, longstanding philosophical and theological concepts of otherness have difficulty when confronted with contemporary neurology.
James Berger
Summary: An accident with a temporal monitoring device sends LaForge and Barclay back in time to 2015.
Ventura 33
It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation today. When I began my work in the field of autism genetic research, I felt very fortunate to be able to pursue my lifelong interest in neuroscience. I hoped to make a substantial contribution to the public health by identifying genetic markers that would enable the development of a prenatal test and, ultimately, the worldwide eradication of autism. (The above "letter" is actually a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people or events is purely coincidental. The issues raised, however, are very real.)
What's behind the impulse to unearth autism in the classics? In part, it may reflect our growing awareness of the disorder and its milder cousin, Asperger Syndrome. Critics seeking to diagnose literary icons may also be taking the current vogue for finding autism in dead geniuses -- Michelangelo, Wittgenstein -- to its logical conclusion. Given these trends, it's not surprising that the wave of fascination with neurological quirks has also touched contemporary literature. Over the past decade or so, novelists and short-story writers in various markets -- from genre authors to writers of young adult fiction to avant-garde experimentalists -- have all created characters who could be labeled autistic.
Polly Morrice, New York Times Book Review
Summary: Spock evaluates a planet's application for Federation membership.
underground aspergian
Not only does she unveil the often dubious treatment of autistic children, but also she offers arguments that debunk Freudian theory and practice. (She uses loony quotes from Freud to open each chapter.)
Mary Houlihan
Summary: During a visit to the doctor, Shelia McHenry reflects on her son's future.
There was a man asleep on the sand. He should not be here. It was my island. I had just returned to my mechano and it was time for me to go to work. He should not be here.
Pat Murphy
Star Trek fan fiction in which neurodiversity is part of the author's vision of the future. '...even small children in the Federation are taught about neurodiversity...'
Summary: Miral Paris reflects on her sister's disabilities.
High-functioning autistics, like me, who love fiction, appreciate metaphor, enjoy humor, and can speak and write quite well for themselves are not given a level playing field--particularly when fiction supersedes fact and the limitations Haddon attributes to Christopher, for instance, militate against autistic self-representation. As the Chicago Tribune 's blurb asserts, "Haddon's gentle humor reminds us that facts alone don't add up to a life, that we understand ourselves only through metaphor," a humor that relegates individuals perceived as unable to use metaphor as equally incapable of relating their truths to the world. Finally, instead of questioning the multifarious flaws in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time --flaws that should make the student of literature question the novel's artistic merits--too many critics have been all too willing to attribute the book's inconsistencies to Christopher and the mystique that surrounds autism than to Haddon's inability to sustain his creative vision.
Gyasi Burks-Abbott
Kamran Nazeer's memoir Send in the Idiots recalls his days at a school for autistic children. He tracks down former classmates and explores how they are handling their autism as adults.
Weekend Edition, National Public Radio
Summary: "We do not like your brain."
Sir Rich
Sara the Famous is based on a true story, as told in the voice of the author´s young friend Sara, a Christian autistic girl with a deep faith in Jesus. It chronicles Sara´s experience with isolation and discrimination, and it shows the flip side of what such experiences can mean when one´s highest aspiration is to be a different kind of famous: A Jesus kind of famous.
Lisa Jean Collins
It is, in summary, too easy to use mental illness -- often a devastating condition -- for all kinds of manipulations, political, romantic or dramatic.
P.C. Jersild
Summary: Kara of "Spock's Brain" describes how her people's ancestors lost their ability to understand their advanced technology.
No one could be so knowingly in the dark: faux autism and stand-up comedy simply don't mix. ('How did your set go? Did you tear the roof off?' 'No, the roof was still on when I left.')
Guardian UK
Summary: 'Voyager' must get through a dangerous region of space, relying on Tom Paris' remarkable piloting skills.
In her fifth novel, "Banishing Verona," one of the characters has Asperger syndrome... The disorder, she says, "is an interesting lens through which to look at behaviors and life experiences."
Lisa Zwirn, Boston Globe

Opinions expressed by the authors of pages to which this site links do not necessarily reflect this site developer's opinions. In other words: Sublime or ridiculous? You decide!
Copyright © 2004-2008, Kathleen Seidel. All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on 5 November 2008, 3:48 pm
Hosted by TextDrive