Writing Autistic – Tropes – Hollywood Autism and Ambiguous Disorder

TV Tropes Pages

Hollywood Autism

Ambiguous Disorder

Short version

Don’t do either of these.

Long Version

Oh boy, okay, here we go…

Hollywood Autism

Basically, it’s a massively over-simplified version of autism. Usually either a genius with Autism Lite (just awkward around people, with no SPD issues or any stimming) or someone who has debilitating issues, but is a savant.

Why is This Bad?

Because autism is not that simple. It’s not just being slightly quirky or Rain Man. And I don’t mean that in an Autism Mom “My child needs constant looking after and they’re not even a savant to make up for it!” way (which is an incredibly toxic mindset). I mean that it’s not so black and white. There are thousands (if not millions) of different ways to be Autistic. Hollywood Autism is limiting.

Hollywood Autism also rarely shows the Autistic person being happy with their lives. That’s just inaccurate. Also, super offensive.

How Do I Avoid It?

Erm, that’s pretty much what is blog series is about… Read the other Writing Autistic posts and listen to Actually Autistic people about what are live are like. Research is the ultimate solution to Hollywood Autism.

Ambiguous Disorder

This is essentially just “I want my character to have something but I don’t want to name it and then have to do a load of research on it.” While Ambiguous Disorder can be used to resemble other disorders, a lot of the time, characters with Ambiguous Disorder end up coded as Autistic.

Why is This Bad?

Because it takes away representation. There are so few Autistic characters to start with, Ambiguous Disorder is like saying “I want to write an Autistic character but I don’t respect Actually Autistic people enough to get it right.” It’s kind of a dick move.

How Do I Avoid It?

Just say the character is Autistic, and then see the bit about how to avoid Hollywood Autism.


Originally posted to myautisticpov.com on 28/6/15.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *