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Writing a Fantasy Character with ASD/Asperger's Syndrome - All Opinions Wanted!

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by chattwick, Feb 24, 2021.

  1. ShadeZ

    ShadeZ Maester

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    Now ADHD and its comorbid forms I am all too familiar with. Should you go this route decide at the start which of the three manifestations of ADHD he has.

    Inattentive- Can't remember things but isnt particularly violent, impulsive, or reflexive. Easily forgets things, generally these are actually extremely humble and come of as very meek. They are prone to anxiety and depression

    Hyper active- Flip inattentive. This version has a lot of trouble with impulsive aggression, moro/primal reflexual response, and generally very low impulse control. Most people also mistake this for one of the pathies (socio or psycho) as the aggression coupled with "apathy" or the emotional shutoff that accompanies combined and hyper type.

    Combined (most common type)- has the features of both. How severe it is ranges from person to person.

    Also, I had not thought of this but ASD and ADHD very much enjoy and like tactile sensation especially fur, scales, and feathers. Ie we REALLY like soft things. For example, I have a siberian husky for my adhd. One of her primary purposes is to lay on top of me when I am pacey so I will hug her, pet her, or play with her ears. It would not be unlikely that Ward would mess with his ears when alone or have a very soft pet. Animals relax both ADHD and ASD. Here is a picture of the dog added so you can see what I mean by super soft.


    20210224_140143.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
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  2. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

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    Any character can be created. The fact that you want to understand fully what you try to convey counts in your favor. The execution counts when all is said and done, the final representation of the character. Insolent Lad has a good point, where a diagnosis is not blatantly stated, but rather certain traits conveyed. All in all, it is fiction, and in fiction, we represent that which we are not, that which is created.

    Prince of Spires has an excellent suggestion, one which I myself also thought of when first viewing this thread, and that is to get a reading group together to give the work a once-over.
     
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  3. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Sage

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    As LAG and Prince of Spires say, if you really must explicitly make your character someone with Aspergers then get a reading group together. Don't confine it to those who only read fantasy. There are several groups on Facebook for people with Aspergers and other ASDs, so approach them for help. And be prepared for some hard criticism.
     
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  4. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    This is all very informative; thank you!

    Ward would likely be inattentive I think. Before moving away from his family he was the quiet kid out within the village they lived in. He'd often go with his mother foraging but would be distracted by the nature around him rather than helping to get things. His mother did a good job of guiding him back to the focus at hand and never tried to force him to be anyone but himself.
    Once he's in the industry though, I think he's forced himself to be more vocal and talkative. Attempts to take notes so he won't forget about the agreements or discussions he's had. Unless it pertains to his his rail road/steel making it usually goes over his head lest he write it down.

    I like your idea with tactile sensations. He'd likely absentmindedly lean his head on one hand and run his ears through his fingers. Or when he gets anxious and stuck in a loop, his husband can help him relax by hugging/holding him closer while he strokes his thumb over their held hands.

    Super interesting stuff. If you have any other points of interest or ideas let me know!
     
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  5. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    Exactly as you stated, I really want to understand him better so that I can write/act him authentically for the players. I want the research to be good so that I can effectively present his character without the worry of it being offensive/misinformed and what not.
    You aptly wrote my thoughts on the subject. I've learned from this thread to leave the diagnosis out of it -which was my intended course of action to begin with. I used it in here because a lot of his traits align with Asperger's syndrome so I thought relating it to that would help to refine those characteristics/traits.

    That's a great plan! I've already reached out to friends who have contacts with ASD and I'll be discussing some of my ideas with them soon. I've already learned a lot more about Ward from this thread alone; so I'm hoping I can learn even more as time goes on.
     
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  6. ShadeZ

    ShadeZ Maester

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    It also depends how human/beast these creatures are. The current belief is ADHD especially combined and hyper type come from hunter side of hunter-gatherers as we tend to not feel much fear and see nearly everything as a game. The true face of combined ADHD is almost feline in that as aforementioned to us everything is a game. Hunger games, for example, someone with ADHD would be scared yes but our adrenaline and excitement at the challenge and game would take over. For some reason, many refer to this as being "predatory". However, if he is herbivorous as a deer then he would not need a more predatory type of psychology or augmented senses ect.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
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  7. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

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    Granted this is all taking place with fictional characters in a fictional world. Why not just pick and choose personality quirks that best fit the story you are trying to tell? Can use whatever reallife syndrome you wish as a base. Just rename it to something that best fits your fictional world. Instead of Asperger you can call it Hyale touched or Bit of the loop. In any fictional world an entire race can have ADHD so this will be considered normal and not a disorder.
     
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  8. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    Yeah! That's a really interesting take. His village did think that he was pretty special as a child and expected him to grow up to be something remarkable. He did, but not in the ways they had thought.
    Out of respect for those with ASD I won't ever outright be like "He ha Asperger's syndrome," instead I researched it as a basis and drew the characterization from there.
     
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  9. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    For those that continue to read this thread, I have contacted some acquaintances with ASD thanks to my own personal writing group. After some in depth plot descriptions and character talk, they've all said they like Ward and felt that he was respectful of those with ASD. The best part of the discussions were the additional ideas and traits they said they'd expect to see him have. I'm really thankful they liked him as he was.
    Going forward I'm gonna continue to contact and utilize their help, as well as commit to further research. I love Ward as a character, he's very special to me and I want him to be as realized as possible.
    Thanks to everyone for commenting! I'll still reply if anyone else has insight.
     
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  10. PhilyG123

    PhilyG123 Dreamer

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    Don't feel bad about writing about someone with Aspergers who doesn't care about it, tries to work beyond it or gets annoyed whenever someone brings it up. Of course this probably won't fit everyone with Aspergers. I have it but it's mild so ppl with stronger symptoms may feel differently about it.
     
  11. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    Hey! Thanks for the insight.

    I think it's really interesting that you say that as my main consultant has voiced a similar feeling toward not wanting their Aspergers to be the focus of who they are. For Ward, as time has gone by, my co-writer and I have realized that his Aspergers is something he needs to reconnect with and sorta rationalize for himself. Just that realization that he's been pushed in a certain direction in his life and that that has made him into who he is.

    If you're comfortable with it, I was wondering if you'd be willing to expand upon your experiences? Things you'd want someone writing a character with Aspergers to know? What you'd want to see? What you think should be avoided? And anything that additionally comes to mind for you.
     
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  12. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    46 year-old Aspie girl here - and age, sex, and gender do make a difference. One thing I experienced as someone on the spectrum is that as we grow and age, some of us learn to pass as neurotypical. I was in the corporate world for many years, and I learned how. I can make people think I'm looking into their eyes. I can produce great shows of empathy as other people experience it. And I can walk into just about any room and own it. But it's an acting job and it's exhausting, and eventually I'll start shutting down if I do it for too long. I write full-time, now, and it's better. More comfortable. I can be myself and interact with people mostly in text, which is less stressful and provides the little buffer I need to figure out social cues and how to react.
     
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  13. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    I'm a bit hesitant to ask the following. But I do so out of genuine curiosity.

    How often do you think of yourself as "someone with Asperger"? I rarely think of myself as I'm male or I'm white or I'm straight. I just am. I can imagine that this is the case for most people, until you get into a situation where the difference becomes obvious. But I don't know, and I don't want to make assumptions, which is why I'm asking.
     
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  14. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Pretty much every time I interact with someone besides my family. It's a different operating system and isn't always compatible with those of other people, so I'm constantly having to step back, analyze what social cues I do pick up, and select an appropriate response. Means I answer questions a little more slowly, because when I don't I risk spouting word salad and not being understood at all.
     
  15. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    I agree and disagree with this. Definitely write the character with more traits then just being autistic. But I don't think there's anything wrong with making an autistic character. I know I don't speak for all autistic people, but I personally think it's fine. In fact, I think we need to see more autistic people in stories, in my opinion.*

    *If you couldn't tell, yes I also have Aspergers
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
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  16. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    Thank you for that answer! It makes so much sense, reading it written out like that.
     
  17. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    Hey! Thanks for the insight and the reply. I really appreciate it!

    If you don't mind me asking (and if you're comfortable with it), could you expand upon what you mean by 'great shows of empathy'? Just how/when you feel you need to do that? Additionally, what happens when you've been exhausted by acting for so long and that 'shutting down' that you mentioned? But of course, only if you're comfortable sharing those details. I don't want to overstep any boundaries.

    Your input is especially instructive as Ward is constantly present within a corporate structure within his story. Over the last month and a half while talking to consultants, listening to interviews, and reading up more on articles and whatnot, I've realized that Ward would also put on the 'acting job' as you say as he tries to get through each business day. A central idea my co-writer and I have been playing around with is that Ward was raised by a very supportive mother and community that helped him to develop healthy habits and mechanisms for assessing social situations. In the realm of the story, once he's older and has left his home, the antagonistic group in the story has found him and modified his memories so that he no longer can recall his family or life before he moved to the city he works in. In doing so, they stripped him of his ability to be himself and utilize those scripts he learned early on. So, surrounded by only corporate bureaucracy and people that don't really care for him, he's constantly making an act to try and seem neurotypical and fit into how the antagonists wish for him to act. As the story goes on, he'll regain those past memories and his old identity and will be able to find a better place for himself to live and participate with those around him.
    I'm explaining this much too so that I can potentially get some critique or thoughts on these ideas if you're so inclined.
     
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  18. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    Hey! Thank you for your reply.

    That's definitely something I'm trying to be really aware of as he is written/being developed. Though it isn't exactly the same, as a gay man I can empathize as to what it is like seeing a bad representation of a character in media. Whether they're just stereotypes or 1-dimensional characters that lack substance and only exist to check off a box. With Ward, I really, really want to make sure that his part in the story is respectful. He wasn't initially conceptualized with the idea that he would be a person with ASD but as we wrote him we realized that he had traits that reflected those of someone with Asperger's. I'm a huge proprietor for representation in media, so I thought it might be a good addition if done the right way. As of today, I still think about omitting that aspect of his character because I worry I'm not fit to tell his story, but then I worry that I am also part of the issue of why there isn't good representation in the first place. Sorta an ouroboros of worries.
    Regardless though, thank you for your input and for giving me your opinion on the situation. I really appreciate it!

    If you don't mind me asking too, what do you want to see in media depicting someone with ASD or Asperger's?
     
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  19. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    People with autism that have friends. Also, people with autism that aren't all white heterosexual males. People with autism that have beards (actually, people with beards in general).
     
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  20. chattwick

    chattwick Dreamer

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    Haha, good to know! I definitely can agree on seeing more people with beards!

    Thanks again!
     
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