As part of my How to Write Autistics series, I thought I’d share a list of questions that can help create an authentic character who doesn’t feel like a stereotype.
And I should point out these are just question that occurred to me. As with anything, other autistics might have their own thoughts. But here we go.
Ten Questions to ask your autistic characters (some might apply just generally to neurally diverse characters):
1. Were they diagnosed late in life or early?
It can affect how they develop coping skills.
2. Are they self-diagnosed?
3. Do they suffer from hypersensitivity? Are they overly sensitive to light, sounds, textures?
For example, I can’t stand the sensation of most fabrics touching my fingertips. It makes drying off with a towel or folding laundry particularly frustrating. I often have to repeatedly dip my hands in water or lotion my fingers to deal with it.
4. What are their special interests?
I hate the term special interest…but obsession sounds equally wrong. Most autistics I know have specific topics or things that qualify as their special interest. Some of us have lifelong ones while others are temporary. Some of my special interests include Bioware Video Games, TV Shows (As Time Goes By and others), and Football (as in soccer.)
5. How do they stim? Also, how do they feel about their stim? How do those around them react to their stim?
6. What coping mechanisms do they use for dealing with social stresses?
7. How do they deal with meltdowns and/or shutdowns?
8. Are their family supportive of them finding independence as an adult?
9. How do they deal with eye contact?
10. Do they live atypically? In other words, do they try to blend in and mask their neural divergence?
I’m sure there are a ton of other questions.
There’s a brilliant Youtube channel that can be an amazing resource for you (there are others, but this is one of my favourites):