• autism;
  • Köhler;
  • language;
  • neurotypical;
  • Vygotsky

Abstract: Autism fiction has become a genre of novel-writing in its own right. Many examples are given in the essay. What does this activity do for us? There used to be no language in which autistic experience could be described. One characteristic difficulty for autistic people is understanding what other people are doing. So absence of a discourse of autistic experience is to be expected. Analyses advanced by Wolfgang Köhler and Lev Vygotsky already made plain long ago that social interaction is a precondition for a language of the inner life. One role for the wave of autism stories now being published, is to create such a language of autism. This in turn affects how autistic people think of themselves. It certainly affects how nonautistic, “neurotypical,” individuals think about autism. Not all of this is a good thing, for all too many stories foster images of “the” autistic person as having special gifts that ordinary people lack.