Superheroes and the Spectrum


This week on the Philadelphia-area public radio show, Voices in the Family, the discussion centered on comic book superheroes and why we love them. You can listen to "Superheroes" here: http://www.whyy.org/podcast/voices20091116.mp3

Many children (and adults!) on the spectrum love comics and superheroes (as do many neurotypical children and adults, of course)--from traditional comic strips to manga to anime (of course, all of these media now tackle a wide variety of genres, not just of the superhero variety, but I digress). A young man with an ASD recently explained to me that he finds graphic novels easier to read than books because the pictures supply a visual of the action; with books he has to simultaneously read the words and create and sustain a mental image. With graphic novels, he can really let go and escape into a fantasy world.

The speakers on the "Superheroes" radio show said that most people love comics and superheroes for a variety of reasons: the chance to escape, the visual stimulation of the pictures, and, most importantly, the chance to identify with someone who feels like an outcast a lot of the time and may be a little unusual, but has a secret identity with supercool powers and a good heart.