📑 The Trouble With Autism in Novels

Bookmarked The Trouble With Autism in Novels by Marie Myung-Ok Lee (nytimes.com)
The disorder is poorly understood. Should novelists be able to make it mean whatever they want?
Marie Myung-Ok Lee reflects on the place of autism within literature and discusses some of the issues with this.

The crux of the issue is that with autism there is often, not metaphorically but literally, a lack of voice, which renders the person a tabula rasa on which a writer can inscribe and project almost anything: Autism is a gift, a curse, super intelligence, mental retardation, mystical, repellent, morally edifying, a parent’s worst nightmare. As a writer, I say go ahead and write what you want. As a parent, I find this terrifying, given the way neurotypical people project false motives and feelings onto the actions of others every day.

Interestingly, Myung-Ok Lee does not mention Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I remember reading Haddon’s thoughts on the matter in a review:

I think it’s true there are two types of kids as school. One type probably breezes through school like gazelles across the veldt. For the more troubled types on the edge of the playground, how you get from one day to the next is a mystery. All writers come from the latter, because only if you’re in that group does the working of the human mind become an object of interest.”

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