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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MA: Children's Literature

Directing Professor

Dr. Lisa Fraustino


This paper looks at autism spectrum disorder (ASD) traits in the main character of the book Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, as well as traits associated with mental breakdown. A brief history of the understanding of autism in the media and in medical circles is explained, as well as some notes on the author’s life. The paper also discusses censorship in diverse literature, specifically books about people with disabilities. The paper notes some attempts at the censorship of the book Harriet the Spy from well-meaning parents, teachers, and librarians, while taking an alternative view of the protagonist. This paper also challenges the idea that children’s’ protagonists must be “perfect.”