About Lost in Our Own Worlds

A rainbow row of books. The books include The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, The Outside by Ada Hoffman, Focused by Alyson Gerber, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, Count Us In: Growing Up with Down Syndrome by Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz, Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life by Melody Moezzi, Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir by Samantha Abeel, An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez, Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Marieke Nijkamp, The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang, and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.

Lost in Our Own Worlds explores the written worlds of neurodivergent writers and analyzes the ways neurodivergence is represented in the literary world.

See “About Neurodiversity” for my definition of neurodiversity.

Why Lost in Our Own Worlds?


Being “off in their own little world” or “in a world of their own” is a common way of describing neurodivergent people. We’re seen as being trapped in our own brains and bodies, cut off from the world of neurotypicals with its singular and superior reality. The ways we experience the world are not as real as the way neurotypicals do.

Even though neurodivergent people are often depicted as being absorbed in fantasy, like someone lost in a good book, we’re not more welcome in the literary world than we are in other spaces designed for and privileging neurotypicals. Our own stories are not as popular or lauded as the ones neurotypicals write about us. Our existence within these stories is used or interpreted as a gimmick, a plot device, or a learning opportunity. Neurotypical readers, writers, and literary gatekeepers want to walk in our shoes, but only if those shoes are comfortable and they can take them off when they’re done.

By writing our own stories, we disrupt that reality. We reveal we exist outside of the narratives neurotypicals construct us from, and we exist in the same complex world as they do. We exist when neurotypicals aren’t there to define us, and we’re capable of defining ourselves.

Other neurodivergent people have written on this topic. “Our Own Little Worlds” by Devin S. Turk, published at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, discusses the way the saying is used to describe autistic people.



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