Why We Diagnosed Some Fictional Characters as Autistic

To the person(s) currently playing Sherlock Holmes, or any other character unofficially diagnosed as autistic: If we autistic people diagnose your character as such, please do not take it as an insult. We do not. We only use autistic as a descriptor, like blue-eyed, or dark-skinned, or long-haired. We prefer our own role models, because the autistic characters general people base their opinions on absolutely suck. We are portrayed as useless morons who are better off dead. The TV movie about Temple Grandin as a capable woman is, woefully, an exception, not the rule. Plus, most of us know we are not all like any fictional person diagnosed autistic, officially or unofficially. For example: since I am using Sherlock Holmes as an example, he is currently being perceived in one case as somewhat asexual (expressing disinterest or lack of interest in sexual attraction and activity). While many autistics are asexual, I for one can certainly tell you I am not. This is just one example. I can sight a lot of examples of this. Truth is, so many of us are struggling to come to terms with the autistic characters given us…we are to only show our exploitable side, then to just go away. Unfortunately, we will not just go away. We’re here, we’re autistic, get used to it.

Okay, that is not the main problem. The main problem is that our autistic characters shown to us by mainstream media suck. When trying to find the right role model, we are not given a lot of options. As I have said before, we’re portrayed as incapable morons on a certain level, except when someone actually autistic (like Temple Grandin) is involved. To site the most extreme example, Kim Peek, the person Raymond “Rain Man” Babbit was based on, was not even autistic! He had FG Syndrome, a genetic disorder which manifests itself in him with similar behaviors (or not, I’m sure) to autism. Also, we are usually portrayed as white, cisgendered, male and awkward. Don’t get me started on the similarities to Sherlock Holmes and Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory,” another character slapped with the autism diagnosis unofficially! Of course, on the gender gap between male and female autistics, a lot of girls and women are denied their proper autism diagnosis simply because they’re girls! Many doctors, unless specializing in autism, do not believe a girl can be autistic, simply because of their gender. “You can’t be autistic; you’re a girl/woman!” That’s what they say. (I suggest a self-diagnosed woman who wants a paper diagnosis do her best to get herself to University of California, Los Angeles, where they are serious about autism study. That is where I got my paper diagnosis in the 1980s.)

But what bothers me most about people who fight the characters’ unofficial diagnosis of autism, know this: it means we actually like your character and find ourselves in him. Would it not be better to stand up and fight the stigma that the autism label or any other disability label gives? Would it not be better to accept that autistic people have a voice, and that we want to use it? Why do you want us to go away?

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