Diversity matters in media, because it’s important for everyone to see that someone like them can be victorious and loved.
With neurodiversity in particular, that doesn’t have to mean labeling characters as autistic. For me, what matters is seeing characters who act and think like me.
Jane Eyre was the first. I read that book before I learned about autism, but I saw parts of myself in Jane that I had never seen in a book or movie before.
The author doesn’t call Jane autistic, and the word didn’t even exist when the book was written. But there are little clues throughout the story, like her meltdown in the red room, and her preference for snug clothing.
More importantly, Jane showed me that it’s okay if your outer expression doesn’t quite match your inner reality. I relate to the way she seems prim and precise to others, but is exploding with intense emotion in her heart and complex analysis on her mind.
Some people misunderstand her as a result. But the story proved to me that being misunderstood doesn’t mean I’m worth any less.