A Literature of Autism for Empathy-Creation

On one of my other blogs, Interdisciplinary World, I wrote about a CNN article that discusses some of the more recent work that has been done on the connection between fiction and empathy-creation. This connection suggests several things to me regarding the gulf between autistic and neurotypical people.

One of these is perhaps very obvious, which is that autistic people need to read more fiction, and neurotypical people need to read/view more fiction with autistic characters. What is perhaps less obvious is that autistic people don’t actually seem to read much fiction or be all that interested in it (perhaps because too many works of fiction do not have many characters to which they can connect). Further, there is probably not a lot of fiction out there with explicitly autistic characters.

This means that autistic people cannot create the anchor needed to become interested in fiction and thus be exposed to other minds than theirs, and neurotypical people cannot delve into the fictional minds of autistic characters to develop empathy for them.

Meaning, we need a literature of autism. Or, at the very least, a reading list of autistic authors and fiction with autistic characters. Anyone care to contribute to creating that list?

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6 thoughts on “A Literature of Autism for Empathy-Creation

  1. That’s a great idea. The only novel I can recall at the moment is in French (L’empereur, c’est moi – The Emperor is Me) by autistic author Hugo Horiot, published in 2013. It was so successful that I assume it will soon be translated in English. It is an autobiographic tale, though, so it may or may not fit on your desired list of fictions.

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  2. “What is perhaps less obvious is that autistic people don’t actually seem to read much fiction or be all that interested in it…”

    Wait, what? I’ve not heard that before, and it is WILDLY not the case for my son. Admittedly he’s young enough to be a bit low on the actual reading side (though he has read six volumes of Squirrel Girl plus lots of Captain Underpants and Dog Man), but he’s been obsessively listening to fiction audiobooks since he was five. Harry Potter, How to Train Your Dragon, Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Percy Jackson (et al)… he’s got to be well over 200 novel-listens just in those four series!

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  3. I’ve read the claim, and my son certainly fits out, but like your son, I don’t. There are exceptions, but the exception doesn’t negate the rule.

    Of course, I’ve also read autistics are much less creative, but I’m positive the complete opposite is true. And not just because I’m a poet, playwright, and fiction writer.

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