Rachel Applegate, Ph.D., Chair & Associate Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, Indiana University, Indianapolis
Annette Goldsmith, Ph.D., Lecturer, Information School, University of Washington
Marilyn Irwin, Ph.D., Emeritus Associate Professor, School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Indianapolis
Applegate, Rachel, Annette Y. Goldsmith, and Marilyn Irwin. The Real Deal: Teen Characters with Autism in YA Novels. Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults 6 (2015): n. page. Web. <Date accessed>.
Between 2012 and 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control revised their estimate of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from one in eighty-eight children1 in the United States to one in sixty-eight children.2 With this large number of youth with ASD in our communities, it is critical that accurate information be presented in YA literature, fiction as well as nonfiction, to increase understanding of the disorder. What is real in the depiction of autism in YA novels? Based on analysis of fifty-eight YA novels that include a young adult character with ASD, a portrait has been drawn of how they are treated, who their friends are, and where they go to school. The data from the novels were contrasted with current research involving actual youth with ASD to assess the accuracy of the fictional portrayals. Findings indicate that the depiction of educational placement and the behavior of others toward the characters in the books was a reasonable reflection of real life as shown in the research; however, fewer friendships were found in the novels than studies of actual adolescents with ASD indicate.