Spider-Man saved my life. Seriously, high school isn’t easy for anyone especially people on the spectrum (to say the least). However, tenth grade was my worst year. It was a traumatic year and I felt alone, anxious and seen as weak because I was misunderstood. I had no real friends and lots of pain and only pop culture to aid me.
This was when pop culture impacted me most especially three pieces of pop culture that I hold the dearest in my autistic development; Spider-Man, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The Ramones. I felt a closeness and comfort in the lives and friendships in The Scooby Squad (from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and the late sixties/early 70’s Spider gang as they were going through a lot of similar issues that I was.
Two of the Spider-man stories that inspired my autistic development the most were The Death of the Stacys and Kraven’s Last Hunt storylines. The death of the Stacys really hit me. That’s because it was the first Spider-Man story to really deal with trauma and a loss of innocence which between a sudden life changing trauma and inability to understand my autism I really related to.
I didn’t feel comfortable with discussing my pain or trauma with anyone at this point. Spider-man up until this had always been much more wholesome and warmer while the sudden loss of innocence felt like a punch to the face much like my life changing autism diagnosis I was adjusting to.
Spider-man of course is also the most relatable superhero for those with autism too. That’s because he’s shy and anxious as his exceptional quippy self he hides in lieu of outwardly appearing as a nerd. Kraven’s Last Hunt I’d also recommend to aspies as there’s a lot of things to think on regarding identity, morality and who one is and where one is in that. This really helped me in growing up especially in the formative years of high school where I could more understand those themes.
These may be odd recommendations for self-help…. but we tend to have odd and unpredictable minds and weird minds require weird inputs to aid it.Spider-man is also great because it’s earlier years also have great racy stories about drug addiction and the social/political issues of the time which is great for helping for developing autistic brains to understanding the larger world.
That also helps to establish and build a sense of empathy within an autistic kid to help them to be more rounded. The comics also don’t hold back on big words encouraging one’s spectrum quest for knowledge.
After the pandemic. I’d recommend for autistics to check out their nearest comic shop. Maybe mine has spoiled me, but I’ve always found comfort ability and acceptance for loving weird and different stuff at my local comic shop.
That kind of love, and acceptance does wonders for those on the spectrum. As far as other comic recommendations go, I’d say Ultimate Spider-Man is a great place to start as it can be brutally honest about the high school experience. This is great for those on the spectrum to delve into before or during high school to either understand or relate to it. Pop culture can be a strong two-sided sword with those on the spectrum.
It can help shape one’s ideas and understanding. However, younger aspies especially should be cautious of becoming overly absorbed/attached. I hope that this article showcases the importance of Spider-Man, comics and how pop culture (more on that in later articles) can help the developing autistic brain.
Until Next Time,