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Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MFA: Children's Literature

Directing Professor

Hillary Homzie


Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was first recognized 1943, it has always been a condition that is very misunderstood—for instance, it was originally seen as something that only affected children, which we know now is untrue. Organizations like Autism Speaks have created harmful ad campaigns which further stigmatize and stereotype autistic people, and depict them as having a condition that needs to be cured, or overcome. I hypothesize that the only way the autism narrative will change enough that autistic people are accepted instead of being seen as in need of a cure, is for autistic people (who are able) to write #ownvoices literature, depicting the autistic experience accurately and authentically.

This paper explores the depiction of autism in the history of young adult literature, and notes the changes that have occurred in the way autism is represented, as more research is done on the condition, and as more autistic authors lend their voices to the autism narrative. I introduce my autistic #ownvoices novel, Worlds Apart, as part of a new wave of young adult literature which treats autism as part of the protagonist’s identity, rather than as a problem, in order to end the stigma associated with autism, and help foster a more accepting society.