Real World article
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To Explore Strange New Worlds: Understanding Autism Through A Star Trek Lens


When Elizabeth Barnes discovered that her son was on the autism spectrum she realized she had a lot to learn. She also discovered a talent for finding fun ways to teach her son about his autism through his own interests. One of those interests, which she shared, was Star Trek.
Barnes writes with empathy and experience about raising a child on the autism spectrum, and the challenges they can face in understanding their own and others' behavior. The various Star Trek episodes and characters provide perfect settings to better understand a wide range of behaviors and interactions, while entertaining both parent and child.
Topics in the book include learning to read facial expressions and character intent, or understanding character responses which those on the autism spectrum may recognise in themselves. Broader themes in the book include exploring communication, bullying, anxiety, acceptance, and intense interests. Each is illustrated with examples from the TV series, and include suggested questions or items to consider.
Star Trek fans will learn about how it feels to see the world from an autistic perspective, and find new facets and ways to view the shows they love, while autistics, friends, loved ones, and parents of children on the autism spectrum will find new ways to better understand autism and spend enjoyable time together.
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