I want to write a character with a mental disability, and for this story, it’s a girl around 10 years old with autism. She’s not the main, but she and her two friends have to face a lot of crap as they grow up and learn how to navigate this messed up world.
I’ve done tons of research regarding autism so far. I’ve looked up several websites, some legit some not, to understand behavior, symptoms, and interaction with other people. I’ve also read a few books and watched some videos. We’ll also be covering autism in a psychology class I’m taking. I even know a few people with autism, although we’re not all that close.
The point is, I feel like I’m prepared in the research aspect, but I’d like help making her as real as possible. I don’t want readers to think “what a special snowflake” or “why does this author hate autistic people.” I want to accurately represent autism and highlight its trials and beauty without making her seem like a bland character for the sake of diversity. Most writers understand the worries along these lines. Autism is a major part of her life struggles, but it shouldn’t define her whole personality, but then I want to give the subject the weight it deserves. She functions completely differently from myself and most people I know in ways I don’t completely understand and I don’t want to make her seem stupid.
How do I make a well rounded character who’s brain functions and cognitive reasoning are completely different from mine? Are there pitfalls to avoid or creative ways to represent autism? How do I avoid offending people too much or seeming naive in the way I represent such a heavy topic? Any advice would help a lot.
Source: reddit post