I never make a grand announcement at the beginning of my current novel in progress, but everyone guesses right away that the teen boy has asperger’s. Yet no one ever asks about the main character, his twin sister.
As it is currently written, I did not intend for them both to be autistic, but it seems plenty of markers pop up. It’s certainly enough for someone to notice, to question. Unless we don’t notice asperger’s in girls.
Here’s quick rundown of a few things about my female teen character that might point to autism or a related condition.
She is anxiety ridden, repeatedly picks at her skin to the point of bleeding, often speaks bluntly, has a phobia, hates surprises, finds deception almost impossible, has difficulty with emotions, problems with executive functioning, poor fashion sense, craves structure, has a primary initial emotional response of anger, follows the rules, is emotionally immature, liked to spin when she was younger, has a TWIN with autism, a father with geek syndrome, and a mom who is super organized and hides her own feelings. I describe her going into a dissociative state when she becomes overwhelmed. While in this state, she tears at her flesh until she bleeds. (Shutdown vs. meltdown) She is sloppy when painting her room, but is a talented artist who sells her work.
While I didn’t write my main character to be on the spectrum, I do wonder why no one asked. They asked about the father. It could be due to my writing, or maybe, just maybe, we don’t think of girls as having aspergers’. And would we know an aspergirl staring us right in the face? According to what I’ve found out, not likely.
When, exactly, does a quirky, troubled girl start looking like an aspie? Especially if you didn’t know her before she entered the teen years? And what does an aspie look like anyway? By the way, please don’t ever, ever tell someone their kid doesn’t look autistic.
Boys and girls are different. Why would an aspie girl behave in a male aspie way? Aspergers or autism is not strictly a boy’s condition. Girls are simply staying under the radar.
“If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.”
And why I am even talking about it? Because girls on the spectrum function under a tremendous amount of pressure. They end up misdiagnosed. Anxious and depressed. Judged. People don’t have to make life harder than it already is.
Honestly, snap judgments about why a person acts the way they do are rarely useful. Struggling people act out. Grieving children act out. I know in fiction we won’t tolerate a character we don’t like. Fine with me, as long as in real life when you meet a real person who acts odd, hold off a minute before jumping to conclusions. Try adjusting your perspective a little before deciding they “aren’t acting right” no matter if they are spectrumy or neurotypical.
Years ago I read a book titled Pretending to be Normal about one autistic female’s experiences. It was quite good. I need to reread it before I review it, but it’s on my ever lengthening To Be Reviewed list.
I plan to get to the book Aspergirls as well, someday.
The children’s novel Rain Reign, has a girl on the spectrum as its main character. It was an excellent read. You can find my review of that novel here.
Can you think of any fictional female characters who display aspie traits on television shows or in movies? Books? If any come to mind, please list them in the comments.