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It's been known for awhile that Renarin Kholin has autism, thanks to several WoBs on this topic. I believe its important to have characters that have autism in fiction, but this isn't exactly what this topic is about... Thanks to Renarin's view point in Oathbringer, we now have a pretty good idea how his autism effects him. He is sensitive to sounds, uncomfortable at large gatherings of people (because of the noise and sound), unable to meet the eyes of others most of the time, and uncomfortable with being touched by those who aren't a part of his family. However, we've talked about this a lot already throughout the years, though this book reveals that Renarin is what many would diagnosis as Extremely High Functioning based on his symptoms and how he views the world (1). There is something more important that Oathbringer reveals, I believe. Jasnah is on the Spectrum or has a related disorder (such as ADHD). Oathbringer, 1132 (emphasis mine) While one might say this is related to what Dalinar refers to "her lunacy" (493) in one of the Flashbacks, and the earlier (473), when Jasnah recalls a childhood illness - Oathbringer, 478 - which she then says caused her to lose her mind. I don't believe that is all. In WoR, Navani stated that Jasnah was distant even as a child, and came off as someone who was already in their thirties. Often times, those who were diagnosed with Asperger's (which is not exactly the same as extremely high functioning autism, though many will tell you otherwise) in the 90s and 2000s before the DSM-5 was released in 2013, were described as "little professors". This is what I think that Jasnah was like growing up from the in-book descriptions. Plus, Jasnah is off compared to characters who are more neurotypical, like Adolin or Navani. She is really only close to her family (and Shallan to some extent), doesn't express herself openly (she's often seen as stoic and stern by outsiders, solemn), and is highly focused on her special interests (the Desolations and history). These are traits found in those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), though I think that Jasnah either has Aspergers or Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS), which is a diagnosis given to those who have some, but not enough of the traits, for a standard ASD-diagnosis (under the DSM-4). This isn't just important because it could mean there is another character with autism in the cosmere, it also would say something about the Kholins themselves. ASD commonly runs in families, and with Jasnah being autistic, having Asperger's, or at least, PDD-NOS (that is, some autistic traits), it means that ASD runs in the Kholins. This is important to me, because it runs in my family (both my siblings and a few of my cousins), and that is something I haven't seen done in fiction before. It's awesome, and I hope it's true because I haven't seen families like mine represented in fiction. And that is super meaningful to me. (I will bring up the diagnosis definitions later if people ask, but I have to do some chores and things, so please be patient with me. I'll get back to it, promise).
So, this is where I say hi - I wanted to stop hijacking this thread about Renarin with me talking about myself, so I figured I'd make a thread in the appropriate board to talk about myself some more. I'm manavortex, currently twenty-eight, married to an awesome husband who has just recently yielded to my constant nagging and started reading the Mistborn trilogy, he's already halfway through the third. We share a tiny flat in Germany with two ginger cats and my bonus child (12), who didn't read either Alcatraz or the Rithmathist yet. I grew up bilingually, so my English mistakes will be twice as embarrassing. I'm also autistic, which is why I found a job at IT at a company who specialises on autistic employees, and since there's usually quite a fair bit of confusion about autism, I thought I'd give you the opportunity to shoot questions. I'm fairly impossible to insult, as long as you don't suggest I'm getting euthanised (and are serious about it), so ask anything, I can still refuse to answer if it's too personal. My short summary about myself being on the spectrum: Autistic people (I'll probably end up writing "autists", because that's a word in German) are not suffering from a disability any more than a hammer does for being bad at screwdriver-ing. Our brains are highly specialised - as everyone who ever played an RPG knows, you need to buy a lot of handicaps to get really high on the perks, so we "pay" for that with penalties on our dice rolls on everything social. Autism boils down to impression filtering. Our brain is, in each second, flooded with an extremely high number of impressions. We can process only a trickle of it, so most of it gets discarded, and the human brain is very good at telling the important bits from the less important bits. The autistic brain is... less efficient at that. One thing that makes living easy for "neurotypicals" is the pattern recognition. For example, when you visit a doctor, you visit a doctor. Your dentist moves, you need to see a new one? Unpleasant, but it's still a dentist. Well, less so for me - even if the doctor I used to see moved office, that's something completely new for me, and it's stressful. That's what makes autistic people so good at IT problems - trying to apply standard patterns as "I've seen something similar before" often just makes these worse. As for the social ineptitude, being a woman and the female brain being better-suited for social interaction than the male brain due to different wiring (for nonverbal communication with babies and the like), I'm somewhat "better off" than I'd be if I was a guy. Also, I have a fairly high IQ, which comes with quick thinking and an extremely high information processing rate. (I don't say that to disrate anyone, by the way, it's just a fact!) With that I can somewhat make up for the lack of intuitive understanding of nonverbal communication, but it is of course rather exhausting for me, which is why I prefer text. (At least a smiley will give a clear indication whether or not my opposite is joking!) The ability of consciously substituting my poor intuitive grasp of nonverbal and indirect communication patterns has ensured that I slipped through the unusual behaviour net until I was 18, when I got myself diagnosed with ADD. The medication (stimulants) gave my brain an additional boost to help me with the tiresome effort of filtering, which is how I made it through university, until I finally shipwrecked on my bachelor thesis and slipped into a depression. Fortunately it was a bipolar one, so in one of my manic episodes I managed to get myself help, and during that help I was diagnosed with the autistic spectrum class specialisation. I don't consider myself disabled or handicapped because I'm highly gifted in several areas. I'm a fast learner if I set my mind to something, and cutting through piles of information is something I can do easily - I'm also well-equipped for understanding highly complex and/or complicated matters. I wouldn't want to trade those skills for a "normal" brain, even if it meant that I could enjoy parties and be like all the other children. Since I know that I'm entitled to being like I am (like, there's a reason for it, I'm not just being "weird") I allow myself to seek enjoyment where I find it instead of where everyone else finds it, which is - mostly - online, but also in books. The character I feel most connected to is Jasnah. I can see me in a similar position, had my upbringing been different. So, umm, one novel later, nice to meet you.