3

A little info as to the story:

'Lily' was abandoned when she was young. She is a Deviant, a group of people who are born with powers, and across the universe either seen as either blasphemies, miracles or just people.
She's trapped on a planet, and survives through thievery. One day she meets another deviant 'Daisy', a girl who wants to befriend her. 'Lily' is suspicious, she's survived by only looking out for herself, and by trusting no one. This deviant does offer an opportunity though, as trading a Deviant is worth a ship. Worth freedom.-and that's all you get to know.

So my story is about 'deviants', not so subtle allegory for poc/queer/disability. And I really want to make sure I portray 'Lily's autism in a non stereotypical/uninformed way. From my research so far this is how her autism presents itself:

  • uncomfortable with crowds
  • can't stand slimy texture or squelching sounds
  • She is verbal, but her words are usually spare and short.
  • she has issues understanding body language, tone
  • she can't help but steal, as it's become part of her routine and she becomes angry and distressed as a result

So I've been cross-referencing a bunch of people on their experiences with autism. I'm still confused though as to whether there are some things that are universal, like avoiding eye contact, sensory issues.

And if there are issues with my listing- like can you be disgusted by specific sensations? And how do things change when time passes? Can you be sensitive to loud places as a kid, but change when you're an adult?

closed as off-topic by Cyn says make Monica whole, JP Chapleau, DPT, Chappo Says Reinstate Monica, AGirlHasNoName May 26 at 17:56

  • This question does not appear to be about writing, copywriting, publishing or editing within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 9
    FWIW, "uncomfortable with crowds" sounds like a trait of an introvert, not necessarily someone autistic. By all means someone with autism might be uncomfortable with crowds, but understand that such unease is a trait which can just as easily be found in someone neurotypical. If the only character you have which is uncomfortable with crowds is autistic, then I'd say that's going to stand out as stereotypical at best. – a CVn May 24 at 11:50
  • 11
    Also, I'm not sure Writing is the best place to ask this question. Yes, you've encountered the issue while working on a story you're writing, but Writing's scope is basically issues relating to writing and publishing. This question might get better, more professional answers at Psychology & Neuroscience; compare their subject scope. – a CVn May 24 at 11:55
  • 12
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not asking about how to writing but rather about characteristics that people with a particular disability have. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 24 at 15:50
  • 4
    Welcome to Writing.SE Grace. Please check out our tour and help center. Your question is certainly something that's going to be important to your story but it's not about writing. The stage you're in now is your primary research about autism. How to research is on topic here but not the specific research questions. Even if they were, there are way too many of them. After you've done this research, please feel free to ask questions about how to translate the information to narration, dialogue, etc. And of course hang out and read and answer questions as you like. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 24 at 15:55
  • 4
    @wetcircuit I'm shocked it stayed open this long. It's a popular question but that doesn't make it on topic. It's also a decent question, but also off topic. In addition to being about the story and the underlying research, it's insanely broad. Sure, it's a question that appeals to people. Most of the answers are about autism and have nothing at all to do with writing. I hope the OP sticks around and asks/answers more questions, but this particular question should stay closed. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 26 at 21:19
20

As one on the Autistic Spectrum, I would caution that there is no "universal" feature. Especially among the higher-functioning spectrum members, individual features are likely to be present, but it can be a significant challenge to diagnose a cooperating individual, especially a mature adult. The nearest to "universal" is the issue with facial expression, voice tone, and body language -- the general "non-verbal" communication modes. Social learning is the most affected in most individuals, but even that is far from universal -- one of the potential "savant" talents might be a hyper-observance of non-verbal cues.

That said, your list is well within the range of reasonable features one might find in a moderate- to high-functioning autistic person.

  • 1
    Key word being "spectrum" – Artelius May 26 at 9:29
12

To add to @Ziess Ikon's solid answer, as someone on the spectrum, I can tell you not all traits/habits/responses manifest every time, in every situation.

I typically don't like crowds and am exceedingly uncomfortable with sustained eye contact. But there are times I've been comfortable with many people around and been able to relax and enjoy the atmosphere, if not participate in the ongoing activities.

A couple of real-life examples:

  • I went to a party celebrating a sports event for a close friend. I sat in a chair all night, surrounded by people I didn't know, and watched the rest of the partiers. They were loud, chatty, shouting sometimes, and there was blaring music, but because I was comfortable with my friend (and a few other people from his circle), I eventually drifted off to sleep people-watching, right there in the chair. And had a fine time.
  • To contrast that: there were a LOT of school dances I attended (for some reason) where I spent the entire time on a bleacher staring at my shoes, wishing I could go home, and trying not to appear weird(er). At one such event, a nice girl wanted me to dance with her and she almost dragged me by my hand out to the dance floor. I planted my feet and pulled back while raising my voice before she let go and moved away.

Both crowded events, noisy places, full of people I didn't know (or necessarily like), but in one instance, my hackles went ALL the way up and I shut down into a semi-meltdown. The other...not so much. And this is only one example.

Sometimes the noise and action and movement is too much for me. I've come home from shopping with my wife nearly catatonic. Other times, it's fine. I've done plenty of shopping, even Christmas shopping, at malls, and been fine.

LOOOONG story longer, writing about people on the spectrum doesn't necessarily mean the behaviors identified as ASD behaviors will manifest in every situation for every person. Comfort level, situation, mood, even experiences and age, will all influence how someone on the spectrum reacts to a given person/circumstance.

  • 1
    thank you very much, these personal stories about you experience it differently is incredibly helpful. I don't mean to be ignorant, i just personally haven't known people diagnosed with autism, so i just want as many opinions and stories from those with autism as possible. Again, thank you very much for your time :) – Grace May 25 at 4:41
  • 1
    You're more than welcome, @Grace! I'm glad I could help! – Josh May 26 at 5:46
5

It's great that you are asking this question here. We have many questions that are a form of "How should I write about a group or culture that I'm not a part of…?" Awareness, sensitivity, research and accuracy are all great motives for creating a better character.

I see you've already got a few good answers so I'll address this writer-to-writer and offer you some writer-oriented ways to think about your own question.

my story is about 'deviants', not so subtle allegory for poc/queer/disability.

Valid.

In character development these are called handicaps. They are issues that put them at odds with society and make them outsiders. More important, these are traits they cannot change. They aren't just "quirks" they are long-standing wounds, and often blindspots. Your character won't always be a "victim" of their handicap, they may have developed sophisticated mechanisms of compensating, coping, and avoiding. Handicaps can help with underdog sympathy, we accept this character didn't choose the situation and we will accept they are starting from a less fair position, as long as they don't violate certain other protagonist rules that cross the line to unredeemable.

Some of these "coping mechanisms" will help the character, and some of them will actually work against the character as a flaw. Flaws are different from handicaps because the character created the problem themselves, or they perpetuate the problem by refusing to deal with the underlying issue. Narratively, flaws are approached differently. These are things that the character needs to change to "win", or to fulfill their character arc. When the protagonist fails to address their flaws the story is typically a tragedy with a negative character arc.

You'll benefit from separating your character's flaws and handicaps, so you understand how to address each. It's clear from your question that you don't want to offend, but as a writer you should also ask what your story gains from each of these traits. You'll have a discovery phase where the characters flaws and handicaps might all look alike, but your story will also have certain rules: Handicaps are not their fault but still work as obstacles to the goal. The reader needs to root for the character in these instances. Flaws look like obstacles to the character, but to the reader they look like something the character needs to fix before they deserve to succeed.

Let's look at your examples from a strictly narrative, flaw vs handicap perspective:

  • uncomfortable with crowds this sounds like a flaw that comes from a handicap. The handicap is that the character has problems focusing attention, the flaw is that she's learned to avoid crowds. If she suffers through a crowd trying to stay focused, she's dealing with a handicap. If she refuses to go to the marketplace where she can easily get help, this is more like a flaw.
  • can't stand slimy texture or squelching sounds I don't see how this will effect her story. Let's call it a handicap because I can imagine it adding stress to an otherwise normal interaction.
  • She is verbal, but her words are usually spare and short. I'd say this is probably a bit of both. It's going to work like a handicap most times, but there will be times where she communicates in few words because she doesn't want to be misunderstood, but she'll have to explain herself better to avoid the very thing she doesn't want – that's a flaw.
  • she has issues understanding body language, tone handicap
  • she can't help but steal Yikes! This is very definitely a flaw! You do not want to imply that everyone who is autistic is also a thief. Again the trick is that she might justify it by thinking it's her handicap, but no one else (including the reader) is going to see it as anything but a flaw.

As a textbook example of why you want to separate flaws from handicaps, pretend we have a young woman who is confined to a wheelchair after a terrible accident. Doctors say she will never walk again – clearly a handicap. But the love of her life comes along, and she is such a good person, that one day she stands up and walks! Love has cured her handicap! It sounds like she suffered from "old movie disease", that wasn't a realistic handicap, it was just there to pull some sympathy strings. Everyone should be offended!

In a different story, an old man was raised in a racist, sexist culture. Circumstances force him to examine his long-held beliefs. He resists, but a sort of friendship develops where he chooses to see the others as "just people". He's not marching in any parade, but his actions soften even if he doesn't really change. Here, his upbringing is treated more like a handicap. He learns to cope, even if he isn't actually cured. The story gives us clues that the upbringing isn't his personal flaw, but his behavior is, and can be changed.

  • 3
    To add to this, the last comment isn't autism, it's kleptomania. Also, I've noticed a trend to autistic people being sensitive to loud/high-pitched noises, myself included. – Kale Slade May 24 at 15:25
  • Good point @KaleSlade! Kleptomania would be a real handicap (so would being poor). Since they are separate issues the author might need to work harder to show the character doesn't have a choice. The part where she becomes angry/distressed about it makes it sound like a flaw that she'll need to work through. – wetcircuit May 24 at 15:32
  • she survives by stealing- she 'owes' a man who looked after her when she was too young, so she steals for him and gets a little reimbursement. So it's just something she's done all her life so i thought this would cause distress at first when the routine eventually changes. I didn't mean to imply autism and thievery have a relation. I should've specified she's kleptomaniac, and disruption of her schedule-which includes stealing-causes distress. thank you for your response though, very informative :) – Grace May 25 at 4:13
  • 1
    The stealing, given the particular reasons for it, sounds like an exact example of "flaw caused by handicap", and I think it's a clever idea. She steals because it's familiar and familiarity is more important to her, and changing her habits more unnerving, than they are to most people, at least until she's used to not stealing and THAT becomes the habit. (To an autistic person, the world is a confusing mess of details and if they find any pattern, they hang onto it like it's their last dollar.) But she still COULD stop. Though she might claim she couldn't if she didn't want to face that! – A. B. May 25 at 18:08
4

Close votes notwithstanding, this question is about writing in one important respect: how do you properly research what you want to write about?

You have to start with specificity. Do you want her to have low-functioning classical autism, or a high-functioning variant (such as Asperger Syndrome, which I have?)

Let's take the example of struggling in crowds. Insofar as that matches my experiences, it's partly because of the complex relationships between that many people, but it's also partly because of the complex structures of the background noise. So on the one hand an issue can have multiple causes/aspects, but on the other hand it can link to others, such as the sensory issues in your next bullet point. And note that on the spectrum there can be a mix of sensory hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity.

If you need Tony Attwood's books on Asperger Syndrome, you'll learn a lot about the spectrum's complexity, and you'll be able to pick and choose what would fit your story. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is as good a work of fiction as any to read, to learn how to convey your chosen character traits in your text.

On the other hand, sometimes you're researching the wrong thing, or not every thing you need to. For example, it looks like you would also learn the psychology underpinning kleptomania. Your character can have two things, if you motivate it. But for your purposes, I don't think you'll want it to be as comic as Bender's Futurama kleptomania.

  • I'm actually not sure that's true about the kleptomania. (Not that I know anything about kleptomania.) Lily's reason for stealing is rather unusual: she's been used to stealing for a living, for entirely practical rather than pathological reasons, and now she wants to carry on doing that (even if she no longer needs to) because it's familiar, and familiarity is very important to her. Trying to make it resemble the typical kind of kleptomania may be misleading because it isn't it. – A. B. May 25 at 17:49
  • (continued.) (Reminds me of children who are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa but in fact it's OCD - it's not food itself they're afraid of, it's that they're scared to eat in case it's got germs or poison.) Oh, and yes, Tony Attwood is great. Not every textbook about autism is recognisable by autistic readers as a description of their daily lives. For instance, sensory issues tend to be reduced to a footnote, whereas for a lot of people on the spectrum they are the biggest practical difficulty in their daily life. But Tony Attwood makes a point of ASKING HIS PATIENTS, so he gets it. – A. B. May 25 at 17:56
  • @A.B. At any rate, I'd advise against thinking of the theft in terms of autism, or letting the reader do that. The character is bound to be much too complex for that. – J.G. May 25 at 18:31
4

You've already gotten many good answers, but I'll add some thoughts and ideas. In order of importance.

Write Lily as a Person

While diving into the depth of the diagnose and all different ways it manifests, don't forget to write Lily (just like all your other characters) as a person before anything else.

Autism, high-functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome

I'm assuming Lily has "high-functioning autism" or "Asperger syndrome".

However, there are also (I don't know what they want us to call it) low-functioning autism? or classical autism? or just autism? ... needless to say, this is an ongoing debate and hopefully there will be more differing diagnoses in the future, not one umbrella diagnose.

I'm going to talk about Asperger Syndrome.

Autism is a disability

This is the one you need to keep an eye on. If you write Lily as someone with all these symptoms but no real disability, you're not writing a person with Autism, but an eccentric.

In general, health care practitioners won't give a person with no problems a diagnose. Not only because diagnoses might warrant different types of help that cost money, but also because getting a diagnose can be a hard blow and something that can take years to come to terms with.

Lily should suffer in some way from her autism.

Everyone is unique, but there is a diagnose

As some answers mention, every person is unique, but I feel I have to add that there are common traits in Autism... otherwise, there wouldn't be a diagnose... rather these traits may appear in different combinations and strengths in different people, and each person will experience them and deal with them differently.

Autism is usually diagnosed using DSM-5 or ICD-10. And they are a bit different. I've bolded what you might consider adding to Lily's symptoms.

DSM-5:

  • Problems with social and emotional interactions
  • Problems with nonverbal communication
  • Problems with developing and maintaining relationships (But I read between the lines you have this one already?)

ICD-10:

  • Normal early development (language etc. during the first 3 years)
  • Problem with social reciprocal interaction
  • An unusually intense interest or restrictive, stereotypical patterns of behavior
  • No other disability explains the disorder (however, there are so-called comorbidity—see below)

Some personal takes on these criteria:

Social interaction

I think most Aspies will tell you they don't have or don't trust, their gut instincts. We can't make a guestimate about social interactions. Instead, we have to do what I like to call Social Math. Using observation and logical reasoning to figure out what social situations mean. This usually presents as being "slow" to figure these things out, if at all... after all gut reactions are faster than reasoning and logic... unless you're a savant.

It also means a more intellectual approach to emotions, even things like love.

I've seen an example where someone breaks up with an Aspie and can't give a logical reason. This becomes very confusing and upsetting to the aspie. And the ex is just as confused because there's suddenly a request for logic and reason... love isn't logical... right?

Emotions and emotional interaction

Aspies have feelings just like any other person, however, it can sometimes, due to problems reading social situations, be hard for an Aspie to know when to express these feelings or not. It's also harder for an Aspie to read emotions in others, sometimes making them seem emotionless because they can't see what the other person is feeling.

I like to think of both emotions and social interaction as people waving flags, and Aspies as being blind. If people wave the flag really hard, you can understand that some flag waving is going on, but not what color the flag is or what pattern it has.

Unless you do the social math on the situation, what happened before, and what's probably happening now, you're going to have to ask, or be told what's going on, with words.

Communication

People like to say 10% of communication is spoken words and 90% is body language. That isn't right. I'd guess about 5% is spoken words, 45% is body language and 50% is what was said before, what everyone knows, what is common and custom in this situation, what's in the Employee Handbook, etc.

Most Aspies will have to fight to not default on what's being said, have to strain to observe body language and do tons of social math to get to the last 50% of what's commonly known as invisible rules.

Unusually intense interest or stereotypical patterns of behavior

An unusually intense interest speaks for itself. I have few, very intense interests. Computers since I was eleven. And writing about since the same age. They haven't changed, and I'm now soon turning 50.

I find myself creating rituals. I wash my hands the same way every time, as well as brushing my teeth and showering. I've had my current oven, a shiny black, flat stovetop that just cries to be kept shiny, for more than ten years and I know with 100% certainty that I have never placed anything on top of it before wiping it off.

I count when pouring water. To "clean old water out of the pipes" I pour to the count of ten with the tap fully opened. When filling my water cooker I count to ten again. To top it off I count to 3 or 5. Filling a pan for cooking, I count to 10 or 15.

When I was younger I counted in more situations, but I guess it's a behavior diminishing with age. And counting is an as good measure as anyone, I guess. However, most of my pans have a measure at the side, and the water cooker has marks inside it. I could just do it on feel... or maybe I can't...

Male vs Female

I'm usually not a fan of male vs female and am of the conviction that these are learned behaviors, but there is a conundrum in autism. Much fewer females than males are diagnosed.

Lily is a female, but I think most of the answers here are about and/or by males (no wonder since there are more males than females with the diagnose). I'm a male.

Look at the link and other research material to find where your female character might differ from a male one. Perhaps the Female Autism Phenotype?

Comorbidity in autism

Your character suffers from autism and kleptomania. This is not at all unusual. Other types of comorbidity (simultaneous diagnoses) could be ADHD, ADD, depression, anxiety and phobias (her problem with crowds?), OCD, etc.

Of course, the number and types of comorbid diagnoses differ from person to person.

Inheritance

Autism usually doesn't appear out of thin air. In many cases diagnosing it in a son will also reveal the father has it. But I think you could see it in siblings and the mother as well... not to mention older generations. My personal experience; it abounds, in history and present time.

However, other diagnoses don’t have to be autism. It could be any combination of diagnoses not limited to the list under comorbidity above.

This will give a character with autism the possibility of emotional wounds... having parents with diagnoses... perhaps dealing with them through substance abuse or failing at parenting.

That Lily was abandoned is extreme but most possible. It happened to one of my grandparents...

Other Symptoms

Here are other things that are common symptoms in Aspies.

Mentalization

People with autism have a hard time doing what is commonly called mentalization. It's seldom natural for an Aspie to think about what other people are thinking, and I've found that even after you know this, you have to keep reminding yourself to try. Many misunderstandings come from not realizing other people don't know or share your thoughts or interests.

As an author, I spend lots of time thinking about what my characters think and feel, and what other people think and feel, but when I am in a situation that requires mentalization, I still have a hard time getting it right. It's easy when you can spend hours and days doing it, even months, but when you need to do it in the moment... it sucks!

Uneven talent profile

Aspies usually have an uneven talent profile. This means that while they can be geniuses in some respects (e.g. logic, math, pattern recognition, endurance, and meticulousness) they can be outright "idiots" in other areas (e.g. social interactions, house cleaning, romantic relations.)

This surprises many people without the diagnose. The common assumption is that knowing a person's competence in one area will give a good estimate of said person's competence in another.

The fact that Lily makes a living by stealing reveals that she is probably pretty good at doing the social math required to navigate all the straits such a life contains. This, in turn, makes her a pretty intellectually capable person. And still, she's decided to use all that mental capacity to steal. Likely she's a (bit of a/total) dimwit when it comes to long term planning, or she'd used that mental capacity to land a proper job.

But I've seen similar behavior in Aspies as well. Smart people with super educations, that just aren't able or willing to do what they need to land a job.

  • hi thank you for your comment. 'Lily' is definitely one of my favourite characters, I'm jus holding my cards close to my chest-because her name is definitely not Lily. I want to assure you she is more than just autism I have read about the 'spectrum' and also some accounts where people don't think it's reliable or outdated, so i've mainly just been reading across a broad specturm- as well as some videos from an 'aspies world' and how autism is different in girls. like you said i'm not entirely sold that it's a purely biological difference, as the way we raise girls must also have an impact. – Grace May 25 at 4:32
  • -ugh this word limit is painful. Thank you very much for your comment and links provided. I'm still not entirely certain where she is on the spectrum yet, but i will definitely be referring back to this page because eveyone's been helpful. i don't think ive seen as much about 'mentalization' and 'uneven talent' in the articles and stories i've read so thank you for that. :) – Grace May 25 at 4:37
  • I am a female and suspect I am high functioning Asperger or something like that. No use in getting diagnosed. One reason for women not knowing they are autistic but high functioning is that girls are told more by mothers to adjust to standards while boys get away with being 'different' for a bit. (This was in an newspaper article, which I have not kept.) Lily, not being brought up by a closely watching and teaching mother, will be more like a boy with the same kind of autism. – Willeke May 25 at 10:08
  • @Grace you're welcome. One way to go about it would, of course, be to never state that Lily has autism at all. I'm thinking like William Forrester in "Finding Forrester". He seems like an aspie to me, but it's never said so. – Erk May 25 at 22:38
  • Yes. I read somewhere that one explanation for the gender difference was that females, especially in their formative years are exposed to more socialization than boys and expected to be more social. And I'm also thinking with learning, the fact that London cab drivers have a larger memory center tells us learning can change the actual structure of the brain (which is a bit of a, duh!) scientificamerican.com/article/london-taxi-memory – Erk May 25 at 22:43
3

I have been diagnosed with Asperger's and I am certainly different in some ways from typical persons.

I don't have any problem being in public places with a lot of people around, like, for example, walking the streets of a city. I have been very happy reading in large rooms in libraries with varying numbers of people around me. But I don't like going to noisy crowded, parties or social events. I remember when in my thirties visiting my grandmother and she took be to an event where I sat and thought and watched her dance.

I only turn on the tv to watch specific shows that I want to watch, and keep it turned off at other times. I like to turn down the sound so that it is just loud enough for me to hear clearly, to not bother other people with the sound and to not let them know what I am watching. I hate it when other people have their tvs so loud that I can hear and understand what is said in programs that I don't want to watch. That is terribly distracting. So I usually keep the door to my room shut to block the sound even though having airflow through the door would often help keep the temperature more comfortable.

Since "Lily" is what is called a Deviant in your story, I suspect that she will feel about as safe as a character in a story I am working on.

I have an idea for a story about the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, happening in the borderland between the Wild West of imagination and the real west of history. A boy whose family members are in the US military is mistaken for the son of a bitter ex-Rebel who is a member of a group plotting to overthrow the USA. He is taken by his "father" to the great Sioux camp of Sitting Bull where the "father" is a liaison between the Sioux and his group, who hope that if they can help the Sioux inflict a big enough defeat on the USA it will trigger a second Southern Rebellion and foreign intervention.

Disgusted by the treasonous plot, the boy gets as far away from his "father" as he can, but isn't permitted to leave the camp. So - knowing sign language and some Sioux - he moves in with a pair of orphan Sioux boys and helps them by telling stories to crowds of Sioux children and some adults, asking for donations of food, etc. for the boys. When the boy tells Arabian Nights stories or fairy tales the Sioux can believe they might be true, but when tells them facts about American society they all say he has a great imagination.

The boy wants to reveal the Rebel plot to the authorities, but he and I can't think of a method yet. And he lives in constant fear that if his true allegiance to the USA is discovered the Rebels and the thousands of Sioux in the great Sioux camp will instantly turn on him and kill him, probably with fiendish tortures.

In high school, where I was one of the bullied kids, I occasionally feared I might be lynched if the others understood just how different I was.

And depending on how "Lily"'s society treats Deviants, she might feel constant fear that she will be killed if she is discovered, and may worry that her unusual behavior due to autism makes it harder for her to go unnoticed.

1

I'd say the list is fine except the last one; she can't help but steal, as it's become part of her routine and she becomes angry and distressed as a result.

I have an autistic grandson, 12. He has never stolen a thing as far as I am aware. And why does your character "become angry and distressed" as a result?

My grandson is somewhat verbal, about the level of three year old. He has difficulty expressing what he wants, and forming sentences. He doesn't slur his words, but his requests are often single words or phrases: "Orange Juice?" "Cartoons?" etc. He has some stock phrases, like "No thank you please."

As for as sound, it is a mixed bag. If HE is watching the TV, he'll crank the volume up to jet engine decibels. If he is not, he can't stand it being on, he'll go hide in his room and put noise canceling headphones on.

He is exceedingly neat. Although his mother cleans his room, without any help from her his room is precisely ordered; every book, pencil, marker, toy, etc has a place and he knows where it belongs. When he moved houses a few years ago, he unpacked his own boxes and put every single item, of about a hundred, in its spot without a mistake.

As far as touching, he doesn't like it; except for what I'd call rough-housing. He likes that; like play wrestling or being pulled across the floor or thrown on the bed.

It isn't just people's body language or facial expressions. In general he doesn't have a strong mental grasp of other people's emotions at all, or how his actions create them, or if he is responsible for them.

  • sorry for any offense, i mean to say that she is kleptomaniac. when her schedule is interrupted- which happens to involve stealing, it causes her distress, as i've watched videos about man with autism who said change in his schedule upsets him. I've personally only known two people diagnosed with autism, one who i just don't really see and one who i only recently met. So hearing stories about people like your grandson is helpful for more than just writing, it's making me more informed as a person, so thank you :) – Grace May 25 at 4:21
  • @Grace No offense. But kleptomania, actually stealing, would require a sense of what other people know and how they would react, in order to conceal something from them. Many autistics do not have that sense of other people's minds. The closest my grandson would get is like seeing a chocolate bar in a convenience store and, on the spot and openly, unwrapping it and eating it. Not self-consciously, not in a hurry, just a feeling like "I'm hungry and I found a candy bar." No differently than if he was in his own dining room and found a candy bar on the table. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica May 25 at 10:11
  • 1
    @Amadeus That's a point. Of course, not everyone with some form of autism is so devoid of "theory of mind" that they couldn't understand the idea of "Can they see me". But somebody with poor awareness of what's going on around them (I'm guessing, from the fact that she hates crowds, which is usually about struggling to process lots of things going on at once from all different directions), and who isn't good at understanding body language (e.g. recognising when somebody has spotted her), sounds as if she'd make a poor thief. Unless her powers give a special advantage. Invisible? – A. B. May 25 at 17:38
  • 1
    @A.B. The invisibility power makes me think of a supers TV-series were one of the characters had the ability that he wasn't invisible, but so bland and boring no one really noticed him. This went so far in one scene FBI (I think it was) storms in and arrests everyone but him because they don't notice him, and he's standing in the middle of the room... – Erk May 26 at 21:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.