Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Hillary, Alyssa. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Hillary, A. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Friday, February 8, 2013

Autistic Emily?

I read Questionable Content, and today I want to talk about a character from there who I think might be autistic. Unless the Questionable Content universe is a lot better about autistic people than we are today, I doubt that she knows she's autistic, but I think she is.
No, this isn't about "being a jerk," like so many people use to armchair-diagnose people. She is socially clueless at times, but she is nice. See "socially inept and mean are two different things."
I'm pretty sure she's sensory seeking. She beat out dozens of other applicants for an apparently competitive library internship so she could sniff old books, and admitted as much pretty openly (2207.) She has also played with both Martin's (2320) and Claire's hair (2360.)
She also has some echolalic tendencies, repeating the word "muskrat" over and over on one occasion (2302) and repeating "fluffy" during her sensory seeking with Claire's hair (2360.) She has also repeated Tai verbatim (2317*.) One of the earlier clues, though, was that the highlight of her first day was the banana smoothie, and she said so using just the noun, "Banana smoothie" (2213.) She does the same when she is excited about the banana smoothie being brought to her (2282,) and the illustration suggests that she was clapping in anticipation.
Also in the area of language, she seems to take things literally and have some possible difficulty telling when people are joking (2253.) Her sense of humor also seems to include a very active imagination (2361) and puns based on literal interpretations, such as "arms races" (2368.)
There are other comics she appears in where her behavior may or may not fall under the umbrella of stimming, and it would take the ability to ask her questions directly to be sure about this. These include her poking Momo's belly button to cause her hair to change color (2250.)
Beyond simple stimming, there is some Autistic body language, such as continuing to use clapping to mean happiness into adulthood, outside the context of applause (2282, 2288,2295, 2329) and what might be lifting her arms to flap as she begins to laugh (2368.)
Finally, while many autistic people can and do lie, Emily does have the specific kind of honesty I have noticed to be very common in autistic people- correcting people on their "white lies" (2242) and admitting to reasoning behind decisions that most neurotypicals consider best left unmentioned (2207.)
And I won't deny it- she can be clueless and weird, and she apparently does have social troubles outside the rather accepting bunch forming Questionable Content's main circle (2298.) In the first strip where we meet her, on her first day of work, she asks for permission to goof off with the boss (2203.) She was also very excited to have a banana smoothie that was just a banana smashed with a hammer (2210) and seems to make a habit of having this sort of smoothie (2241, 2273,2282). She also suggested using a fellow library employee (robot) as a battering ram (2237) and asks her some... interesting questions (2238, 2250,2251, 2283, 2284, 2315*.) Her first instinct upon meeting Pintsize was to punch him, denting his head and injuring her hand (2340.) She is also either deadpan enough with her sarcasm to fool her coworkers or unaware of just how weird she is (2371.)
However, I also hold that if people view autism in the Questionable Content universe the same way it is viewed here, or even in a similar way, Emily most likely does now know that she is, in fact, Autistic. While she is aware of having some social difficulty and of her lack of friends from outside her work (2298,) she seems more than willing to be her own strange self around these friends she has made. I see no evidence of her making any effort to hide any of her more Autistic tendencies, nor do I see her apologizing for these tendencies. At the very least, that means that if she ever did receive the sorts of therapies that are typical for autistic children today. The type of Autistic person who is as open as she is and as confident as she seems to act is usually open about the fact that they are, in fact, Autistic, so it seems most likely that she doesn't know her neurological status. If she does, either the politics around autism is completely different from the way it is here or we would probably know it by now. Therefore, I propose that Emily from Questionable Content is autistic but is not currently aware of this fact.

*Guest comic, may or may not be considered canon.


  1. Emily's facial expressions during conversations also support your hypothesis. In 2371, in the first strip she seems incredibly intrigued by the beginning conversation. In the 2nd strip, the redhead (I don't know all the characters names), looks sad, while the other two convey shock. To me it is not quite as clear what Emily is feeling at that moment, she seems more confused or discomforted than shocked or mortified. In the third strip the other two are empathizing with the redhead, eyes pointed downwards with a frown. Emily frowns too but her eyes are pointed upwards and to the right, suggesting that she is pondering. Perhaps she is unsure of what she feels or how she should be reacting.

    1. Thank you! I didn't notice that.
      *In which I have the stereotypically Autistic issue of "can't read facial expressions"*

  2. I don't recall why I stopped following QC, but I like your analysis. Maybe I'll pick it up again.


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