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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Pop Culture and Stereotypes

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss challenges facing autistic adults and children.  One is stereotyping of autistic people.

 Claire Kenny at Ms.:

How do people without knowledge of autism normally picture an autistic person? Perhaps, as Dr. Devon Price said, “a white man with a monotone voice, rude demeanor and a penchant for science.” Price, a social psychologist, professor and trans author on the autism spectrum, lists in his book Unmasking Autism (2022) more stereotypical examples of autism in pop culture: Shaun Murphy from The Good Doctor, Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and Rick from Rick and Morty. In other words, he writes, some variation of “white boys who love trains.”

But autism can take many forms, and often presents differently in girls and boys.


Women and girls on the spectrum have continuously been more under- or misdiagnosed with autism than boys, and on average receive diagnoses later in life than boys and men do. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) notes that the ratio of autistic boys and men to autistic girls and women is generally considered 4:1, yet NLM researcher Robert McCrossin suggests this statistic might be inaccurate due to sexist bias.


Studies on autistic adults have found that women mask their autism more than men do, which could explain why they often fly under the radar. The cause may relate to sexist social expectations for women and discrimination from patriarchal medical systems.