• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Autism and Writing; Therapy and Theory of Mind Exercises

Writing Therapy for Autism

My decision to become a writer led to my autism diagnosis.  I decided one day that I wanted to write books, and writing quickly became my new special interest. The problem was that I was dreaming of writing fiction novel, and had no clue how to write them.

This lead to intense research, and a search to find any and all materials written related to writing fiction! It was a massively insane undertaking, not to mention an impossible one. Characteristic of my Aspie self, I needed to learn–I longed for knowledge.

I signed up for writing classes, read books on writing, and ultimately decided to return to school and pursue my BA in English. My first class–Popular Fiction. It was during this class, studying some of the most popular best-selling books that I came across a character that I identified with.

As I understand it this is not a huge feat for most people, but for me, who never saw herself on any page, television screen, it was HUGE. This character made sense; I understood her. For the first time I saw a reflection of me in the world, someone who acted like me, someone who thought like me–but she was fictional; she also had Asperger’s Syndrome.

When my husband read the book, he kept saying, “That’s you,” which for the most part I disregarded.

Another class brought another assignment–this time about idioms. My research began with how children learn idiomatic phrases in the English language, and ended with research on Asperger’s Syndrome.  Idiomatic language and metaphoric phrases of speech have always been difficult for me to grasp.

Hundreds of hours of research, doctor’s appointments, and evaluations later my husband’s suspicions (one that I had come to firmly believe was accurate) proved true. I was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome–a diagnosis that has changed my life, and explained what was unexplainable in my life.

I did not give up my pursuit of writing fiction. In fact, learning to write fiction–characters in particular, because theory and exercises in Theory of Mind.

I wrote about how autism is my greatest writing friend, and my worst writing enemy, and how writing characters allowed me to practice theory of mind in a “safe” environment.  You can read my article, Writing From Our Strengths: Autism’s Insights Into Fictional Characters on Ms. Deborah J. Ross’ blog. Head over there and take a look!

For anyone who is a writer, aspires to be a writer, or just plain old loves to read. Deborah has a wealth of information on her site. She has “been writing science fiction and fantasy professionally since 1982, served as Secretary of Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, and has taught writing and led writer’s workshops. She’s a member of SFWA and the online writers’ collective, Book View Cafe”


Thank you so much Deborah for inviting me to write as a guest blogger.


More on How Writing has helped me: Lifting the Cloud of Loneliness; Anger and Writing

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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.