Asperger Syndrome: Nonfiction vs Fiction

 Do people with Asperger Syndrome prefer fiction or non-fiction? It has been suggested that people with Asperger prefer nonfiction because it provides fact-based information related to their special interest. However, I have known people with Asperger syndrome who enjoyed fiction.

 

The lack of interest in reading fiction usually begins in childhood when children begin asserting their independence in choosing how they occupy their time. Parents often see them steering away from fiction toward their special interest, but that is not the only reason people with Asperger Syndrome prefer non-fiction. Other reasons can be related to deficits associated with their deficits including difficulty interpreting inferred content,  understanding the implication of context to the story line, and problems understanding other’s perspectives. This is made even more difficult because of their inability to see the big picture.  Based on these facts it is easy to see why people with Asperger enjoy reading nonfiction.

However, at the “Asperger’s Association of New England,” they have a saying, “If you see one person with Asperger’s syndrome you have seen one person.”   What they mean by this is that each person with Asperger’s syndrome is uniquely their own person and although they have common deficits each person is vastly different. As with any disability, the disability does not define the person, the person defines the disability, so I have had clients that loved science, adventure, and horror fiction. My Asperger friends and clients have read “Harry Potter”,  “Divergent,”  and many other titles and found enjoyment in these stories.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that many people with Asperger’s Syndrome find enjoyment in reading fiction, but not only that it is a great vehicle to help strength social skills and critical thinking.  Not every person who is Italian loves pasta, just as not every person with Asperger syndrome hates fiction!

If you want to help, your child learn to enjoy reading fiction there are many ways.  Reading books with Aspie characters is one way.  If you are an adult, you might enjoyreading the “Memory Man” by David Baldacci, which references Asperger syndrome and has a character that has an acquired form of high-functioning autism.

References

Giles, A. (2007, July 6). The best Aspie fiction. Retrieved April 27, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2007/jul/06/thebestaspiefiction

Stuff Asperger People Like. (2008, July 28). Retrieved April 27, 2015, http://stuffaspergerpeoplelike.com/2008/07/28/11-non-fiction-and-the-hatred-of fiction/

 

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