Characters with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have become increasingly popular in young adult literature. Using a case-study format, this article describes the communication, sensory, and social characteristics of eight protagonists in award-winning young adult novels. All told in the first person, these novels provide insight for young readers regarding what youth with ASD experience. General findings reveal that youth with ASD are portrayed as quirky geniuses, who are sensitive to sounds and light, and are thrown off by changes in routine or in the environment. Misunderstanding idioms is used as comic relief, as are the characters’ social faux pas. The characters do not represent the full range of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, especially those who also have cognitive and language impairments. However, the novels do portray sensory sensitivity well from a first-person perspective. Overall, the novels provide positive images that may challenge ableist attitudes and promote peer acceptance.
Black, R. S., & Tsumoto, C. A. (2018) Portrayal of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Adult Literature. Exceptionality Education International, 28, 45-67. Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/eei/vol28/iss1/3