An Exploration of the Relationships of Characters with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Adult and Upper Elementary Level Literature

by Randolph, Mary

Abstract (Summary)
This paper explores the relationships between characters with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other characters in young adult and upper elementary level literature. Eight books were selected for close examination. Using a grounded theory approach, I sought to determine with whom the characters with Autism Spectrum Disorders interacted, which were the most significant relationships, whether traits consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorders affected the characters’ relationships, and whether the relationships presented were reciprocal. Were the characters with Autism Spectrum Disorders presented in active roles, or were they primarily receivers of care?

Examination of the texts revealed that the most significant relationships characters with Autism Spectrum Disorders engaged in were with peers and siblings. Autistic traits such as persistence, literalism, and rule-following did complicate relationships. Characters with autism were primarily receivers of care; characters with Asperger’s Syndrome were active, reciprocal participants in relationships.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Brian Sturm

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:handicapped in literature children’s evaluation young adults’


Date of Publication:07/21/2008

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