I am that name? naming neurotypical imaginaries of the sole autist in autistic/autism fiction
Keywords:neurotypical naming, autistic coding, neurotypical gaze, neurodivergent gaze, novel, reading, readership
This paper explores neurodivergent readings of different fiction and non-fiction novels with explicitly “diagnosed” “autistic characters”, or what McGrath (2017) has referred to as ‘named’ representations of autism, and where “autism” is a central part of the plot. We discuss the impact of neurotypical naming and neurotypical texts; what explicit referencing to “autism” and “autistic characters” do in the case of fiction and non-fiction novels aimed at a predominantly neurotypical audience. We reflect upon what it means (and how it feels) to use an already established name (such as autism), and acknowledge its different routes and meanings associated with it. Our aim is not only to do a critical reading and discussion of neurotypical texts about autism and autistic characters, but also to find a collective reading practice where our experiences as readers are valued as research material, providing insights on how we occupy spaces, experience emotions, and inhabit the world. This is a way to challenge neurotypicality of the taken for granted “us” and “our” gaze in neurotypical texts.
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