Ada Hoffmann on Autistic Characters and the “Neurotypical Gaze”

Rose Lemberg pointed me to this post by Ada Hoffmann: Note to people thinking of writing autistic characters.

“If you write a story where your character has no character traits except for impairments and behavioural issues, and where they take no actions not related to these issues (or to someone’s desire to “cure” them), you are presenting a distorted and objectified picture of autism. This goes double if you are writing from the autistic character’s point of view.”

Personally, I think it’s worth reading even if you’re not a writer and have no intention of ever writing an autistic character.

There’s a part of me that wants to write a much longer blog post here, talking about my son, about the character of Nicola Pallas in Libriomancer, about the need to listen when people tell you you’re portraying people like them in a one-dimensional way. But I worry that doing so would pull attention from Hoffmann’s piece, when my goal was to divert attention to that piece.

I’ll probably write that post one of these days. But for now, go. Read. Think. And write better.*

*”Write better” is advice I’d give to everyone, myself included, and wasn’t meant to suggest that you’re a bad writer.**
**Disclaimer written to try to avoid hurt feelings, and because footnotes are cool.