THIS APRIL, a new character in Archie, a popular comics, Scarlet, celebrated World Autism Month when she told readers “we who are neurodiverse can usually understand every word we hear, but we often have difficulty freely communicating back”. In the same line, the character urged that the “neurodiverse hearts beam when shown kindness”. “Archie and friends have been examples around the globe on how they and the new character Scarlet are comfortable in their own skin. Each character has entered our hearts with their steadfast examples on making it work – inclusion and friendship,” says Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Archie comics in an e-mail response to The Indian Express.
Continuing with its theme “kindness works”, Archie comics also represents neurodiverse people and during the World Autism Month (April) it is celebrating the disorder with the new character. Scarlet made her debut in her own story, Kindness Works, last year. Written by Ray Felix and penciled by Fernando Ruiz, the comics shows readers how to treat those who express themselves in a different way as well as how to positively include everyone in a group setting.
Silberkleit said initially, she was not aware of the term neurodiversity when she launched Scarlet. “I feel it is cool and more inclusive and what better voice than Archie and friends to propel neurodiversity,” she said. “Our comics continue on the path to represent neurodiverse people and at the end of the day these characters are examples of making kindness work,” she added.
“The autism rights movement is a social movement within the neurodiversity movement that encourages autistic people, their caregivers and society to adopt a position of neurodiversity accepting autism as a variation in functioning than a mental disorder to be cured,” Silberkleit said.
She further spoke about how cruel it was to isolate another human being. “All we can do is block out the negative noise and rise above. These are folks who have trouble letting their feelings and voice be heard. Hence we need to support and cultivate kindness and inclusion for all. It is about human rights,” she said.