Writing Characters With Disabilities

Midnight Maiden

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Yeah, I'm using this topic. I know multiple people have done it, but I'm not sure it hurts to see multiple takes on things.

As someone with a pretty severe disability, I'd like to say I know at least a little about this. Obviously, I won't know every disability in the book outside of the ones I have. But anyways, that's majorly besides the point - Onto the topic!

Disability; noun ; a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities. Also, a disadvantage or handicap, especially those imposed or recognized by the law.

Good. Now you know what a disability is. But, that's the tip of the iceberg.


There are so many disabilities that it's impossible to count them all. Generally, they can be categorized by type: Physical, Cognitive/Mental, Emotional, Sensory, and so on and so forth. This is also just a small piece of the huge scheme.

Now... Playing characters with disabilities is where things get complex. This is something that some people take very close to heart, while others don't really care about. Now, be warned, some people don't like seeing characters with disabilities. This can be from any reason from prejudice against the disabled, or feeling the disabled are being mocked, or just feeling that the disability isn't being properly portrayed.

But, personally, I'm all for people playing them; as long as they do it right.

When you play a character with a disability, there are a few steps you should follow in making them! These steps are as follows:


1. Research! It's totally awesome to play a disabled character; but not when you know nothing about the disability, and it shows.Try to get a good understanding of the disability a ways before you sign up with the character/create them, because otherwise, you might accidentally get some details wrong! I can't tell you how many people I've seen totally screw up writing a character with DID... For example, look at Multiple Mike from Total Drama- 100% innacurate and mocking of the disability.
2. If you know someone with a disability, talk to them about it! Yes, it's not always fun to talk about your disability; take it from me. But, if the person is anything like I am, they'll be happy to tell you about it if they know what it's for. After all, if a character with a disability is portrayed correctly, it raises awareness!
3. If you're doing something that makes your character seem like they have a disability that they don't truthfully have, make sure that's made clear! An example would be having a character that seems to have multiple personalities, but they're actually possessed, make sure people are aware of this!
4. If you're going to play a character with a disability.. Make sure you think extra hard when writing them. For example, if they're stuck using canes, crutches, a walker or etc, they might be a little hesitant with stairs. Maybe if someone with asthma is asked to race, they'll try to out of determination, but end up having struggles with breathing and falling down. Think realistically about how their disability with affect their thoughts and actions!

5. I totally lost my train of thought. o_o If I remember anything else that I missed, I'll make sure to add it.
 

Ragamoofin

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This is such a good reference for me because I typically play characters with disabilities, and I really try to play them accurately because a lot of people that make characters with disabilities aren't up to doing the actual research on them. I can't even count how many times I've seen multiple personality disorder be used as some 13-year old half-angel assassin's excuse to be completely terrible.
 
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Midnight Maiden

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This is such a good reference for me because I typically play characters with disabilities, and I really try to play them accurately because a lot of people that make characters with disabilities aren't up to doing the actual research on them. I can't even count how many times I've seen multiple personality disorder be used as some 13-year old half-angel assassin's excuse to be completely terrible.
Oh, definitely. If you've ever seen Total Drama, there was a huge uproar over 'Multiple Mike' because they made DID look like some total joke, and wrote it completely inaccurately.
 

Ragamoofin

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I just find it really insulting when creators undermine the severity of these disorders and disabilities. If you can't write it correctly, by all means, don't.
 

Midnight Maiden

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I just find it really insulting when creators undermine the severity of these disorders and disabilities. If you can't write it correctly, by all means, don't.
Amen to that.
 

Kagayours

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1. Research! It's totally awesome to play a disabled character; but not when you know nothing about the disability, and it shows.Try to get a good understanding of the disability a ways before you sign up with the character/create them, because otherwise, you might accidentally get some details wrong! I can't tell you how many people I've seen totally screw up writing a character with DID... For example, look at Multiple Mike from Total Drama- 100% innacurate and mocking of the disability.
2. If you know someone with a disability, talk to them about it! Yes, it's not always fun to talk about your disability; take it from me. But, if the person is anything like I am, they'll be happy to tell you about it if they know what it's for. After all, if a character with a disability is portrayed correctly, it raises awareness!
Both very good bits of advice! Perpetuating stereotypes surrounding disabilities (like the Total Drama example you mentioned) can not only be really offensive but also make it more difficult for people who actually have these disabilities to be taken seriously, so I'm really glad these two were included.