Underrepresentation in Popular Culture

Today is September 1st; the day in the Harry Potter series that Hogwarts students go to Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station to board the Hogwarts Express and start the magical school year. For the second year in a row we joined with other homeschoolers at a local train station for a morning of pretend and cosplay fun. But this year was different from last year. This year Builder Boy knows he’s autistic. This year he needed his ear defenders in case he became overwhelmed. But he was conflicted because there are no autistic wizards in Harry Potter; none of them wear ear defenders.

That broke me a little. “Of course there autistic wizards in Harry Potter,” I said. “The author just never mentions it.” A limited Google search has not turned up any proof that the author JK Rowling has ever officially declared any character to be on the spectrum. There does seem to be speculation on the character of Luna Lovegood. Headcannon accepted! But I really get it now. I get why diversity, not just gender and ethnicity but also neuro-diversity, is so important in popular culture. Because my son thought he didn’t belong in the Harry Potter fandom, because he thought people like him did not exist in that world.

I get that it’s hard; with so few examples in popular culture and media, every one right now is important and put under a microscope. And we don’t want them being used as plot devices as was pointed out in a recent post on Electric Lit. But we do need them.

Do you know of any positive, officially autistic characters in popular literature for kids? Or do you have a favorite kid character that seems close enough that you fancy them on the spectrum? Let me know so I can show my kids, please!

7 thoughts on “Underrepresentation in Popular Culture

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    1. That is a really interesting and well reasoned article on why Hermione might be on the spectrum. Before reading that I would have just attributed her quirks to characteristics of giftedness and Dabrowski’s overexcitablities, but the way the author framed is has really got me thinking. Thank you for sharing that.

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  1. The entire Origami Yoda series was written by someone on the spectrum, and two of the three main characters are on the spectrum. His main point is that what makes you different is actually your secret superpower.

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