Heartbreak High and Why Autistic Representation Matters! By Lola Louise (an actually autistic writer)

October 26, 2022

Being autistic in this world is harder than people think. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, there’s lots of struggles and ableism. Heartbreak High is the first mainstream series to show what it’s actually like for most autistics out there in the world. Quinni is the best example created. Why? Because we have an autistic actress who had input in how an autistic character has been created.

This is a rarity.

The series shows what it’s like to live amongst neurotypicals and the struggles that has, especially when a teenager. This is a first. Every other TV show with an autistic leaf shows the “boy genius” or “a character who can’t function” so this is refreshing to see. When one says “I’m autistic” usually the reaction given is “but you don’t look autistic” this is the reality. It’s a discriminative statement and the character of Sasha has a lot of similar views. She feels she needs to protect Quinni at all costs, as if she can’t look after herself and constantly invites herself into situations where she doesn’t belong then gets judgemental when called out upon it. There’s a lot of stereotypes which are being tackled head on in this, it’s awesome, it’s a common misconception in society that autistics can’t be independent, they can’t function in daily life, it’s far from the truth. Quinni is so independent, she challenges herself, tries new things and is fully self expressive. She just needs the accommodations in place to make sure she can excel. This could make a huge difference to people’s views if they decide to watch. Favourite line is “Don’t touch the Quinni” that in itself is powerful, one of the worst thing you can do when someone’s melting down is to touch them, unless, of course, they want that. It’s a life lesson as you should never just assume its the right thing to do. Personally there’s nothing that needs to be changed in the portrayal as this is what happens when autistics get input in their own representation.

Some may say because it’s a fictional show, it should matter but the truth is, when portraying real life scenarios/disabilities, there’s nothing more offensive than when it is done badly.

Majorly feeling sorry for Quinni in episode 6. Sasha invited herself to something she didn’t like and disrupts Quinni’s planned routine causing her lots of anxiety. She had waited so long for the event and it wasn’t as planned. “She’s on the spectrum” – Sasha. That is just rude. Sasha didn’t even want to be there and it was shown. Quinni felt disappointed not being able to share the happiness she felt. Sasha is the worst character by far. Don’t invite yourself to something you don’t like and then complain about it. Nobody asked you to go, you chose it. Don’t go off on Quinni because you can’t make good choices.

The meltdown scene just after is so realistic and hopefully people will learn from it. 10/10 recommend watching for autistics and those who want to help autistics have a better life with more acceptance and understanding.

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