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Autistic Character Headcanon Infodump :)

This is going to be a long one, so if this topic doesn't interest you, feel free to skip!
I have a headcanon Ben Wyatt is a high-masking autistic. I've only heard a few people mention this possibility, so I wanted to share my reasons why I have this headcanon (in no particular order).
1. Eye contact. If you watch Ben in every scene he's in, his eye contact is really inconsistent. You can see that he tries, but he's always shifting his eyes slightly off to the side every couple of seconds, and he seems more comfortable when doing so. He also sometimes has way too much eye contact (which is what I do when I'm too stressed to think about eye contact so it's all or nothing).
2. Special interests. Ben has a few special interests, and they're all pursued in a very autistic manner. For instance, he clearly has a special interest in politics, and this is generally the focus of his career. But he also has a special interest in comic books, fantasy, and sci-fi. He LOVES Game of Thrones, and he mentions things like Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Star Wars, and often infodumps about these to anyone who mentions them.
3. Infodumping (and masking). The infodumping tends to be overshadowed by his constant masking, but it's there. For instance, in the episode when Donna takes Ben with her and Tom on their "Treat Yo'self" day, she asks him if his bad mood is because they cancelled Game of Thrones. He goes into a brief rant about GoT, which seems to be gearing up for a massive infodump, but then he notices the expression on their faces and gets quiet. Later in the show, when Ann and him are bidding on a waffle maker, Ann makes an incorrect statement about GoT, and he instantly begins explaining it to her. When she stops him by saying "this is why we don't hang out", he shuts down. This is something I notice a lot with Ben (and something I do a lot), where he starts to infodump, and then notices other people's reactions, and stops. I think he's been high-masking his whole life because this is generally the reaction of neurotypical people when an autistic person starts to infodump, stim, or do other autistic things that are considered "weird".
4. Uses sarcasm but often doesn't understand it coming from others. This is one that I think is big, because it's not talked about a lot, but I think it applies to a lot of autistic people (myself included). I saw a video where an autistic woman explained it really well -- she said that a lot of people think that autistic people don't understand sarcasm, but that isn't actually true; what we don't understand is tone. When we can't decipher another person's tone of voice, we can't understand their intention, so the sarcasm tends to go over our head. However, we can use sarcasm quite a lot, because we know our intentions. Ben uses sarcasm almost exclusively, and that's kind of the line of comedy that he brings to the show. However, he often doesn't understand when someone else is being sarcastic with him. For example, he deflects Leslie's dig at calzones with a sarcastic comment of his own (in Ron and Tammy Part II), but when she counters by saying that "calzone are pointless", and jokingly walks away offended, he is clearly confused and cannot understand that's she's kidding until she tells him. Another instance is when Andy offers Ben a room in their house, and April starts listing ridiculous house rules. Ben is clearly confused -- he knows something is up, but keeps looking to Andy to help him decipher April's tone, and Andy has to reassure him that she's kidding.
5. Comfort or "safe" foods. Ben's love of calzones is wonderful, and it's something that a lot of autistic people relate to -- having one food that is a "safe food". Of course, this could be just a food he really likes, and that's not necessarily an autistic thing, but I think the fact that Ben always gravitates to calzones says something more than it just being a food he likes. There's even a brief scene of Leslie and Ben eating dinner together, and while Leslie has spaghetti, he's eating a calzone, which means he went out of his way to cook two separate foods, which is something I will do if I feel I need my safe food even if no one else wants it.
6. Hyperfocus. This one's pretty obvious, but we have to mention the claymation and Cones of Dunshire. I mean, it's the most classic and wonderful representation of hyperfocus ever. Although Chris attributes this to depression, I feel like it looks more like autistic hyperfocus, which could've been brought on by burnout. When burnout happens, we tend to gravitate to our special interests and spend more time hyperfocusing on them.
7. Not able to recognize or identify emotions. This one might be more obscure, but Ben does seem to struggle with identifying other's emotions or even his own. In the same episode where Chris says he is depressed, he asks Chris "How did you know? I didn't even know", showing his lack of awareness of his own emotions. There's also a couple instances where he seems confused by the emotional outbursts of others, and even his confusion at everyone's sadness over Lil' Sebastian's death indicates that he doesn't quite get it. Usually a neurotypical person can understand why and how it might affect other people, but Ben clearly just doesn't get it.
8. Stimming. Ben doesn't have a lot of obvious stims, but I did notice that he tends to always be fidgeting with his hands. Not sure if this was an acting choice, or if this is just something that Adam Scott does himself -- watching some interviews with him, he does tend to rub his hands together a lot -- but I kept it here because it still applies as something Ben does, and it is something I constantly do, especially when I'm masking, because it's a safe way to stim without being noticed. Ben also dances when he's really excited or happy, which is another type of stim (like when Leslie gives him the Iron Throne gift -- he does a little happy dance and kind of jumps around).
9. Sensory difficulties. Ben tends to wear the same clothes or type of clothes -- he wears a button-down shirt, khaki (chino?) pants, and dress shoes. This is his work and/or social event outfit and he's rarely seen in anything else. He also has a wonderful outfit of jeans and that faded Letters to Cleo t-shirt that he's clearly had for ages, which we see him wear only when he's at home or for casual occasions. This is a common thing for autistic people, to have one specific outfit (or type of outfit) that we like to wear, and rarely changing it up. This can be due to routine (which we love), but it also has to do with sensory difficulties as well. He also is sensitive to noises -- when Leslie surprises him by setting off a confetti canon on his desk, he completely freaks out in a very autistically relatable way -- jumping, waving his hands, and shouting "What's happening?! I can't hear, and I'm dying!" (I felt that). I would also argue that he's sensitive to smell as well, given his reaction to Tom's handmade cologne -- other characters admit that the smell is terrible, but Ben physically gags when he smells it too closely.
10. Really good with numbers. This is not a huge one for me, because it doesn't really apply to me specifically (I have dyscalculia), but it must be a pretty common autistic trait because it's always on the assessments. Ben is clearly one of these types -- at one point in the show, he works as an accountant for accountants, so obviously he's pretty good at math. He also has a tendancy to be pendantic about numbers being exact, such as in Media Blitz, when Leslie comments that audience awareness of the Harvest Festival is only 35%, and he corrects her by stating "it's actually at 34.2%". I may not be good at numbers but I sure am pedantic, so I thought that qualified too.
11. Meltdowns/shutdowns. One of my favourite episodes is Media Blitz, which is weird because I get really uncomfortable with second-hand embarrassment. However, this episode, despite revolving around Ben's embarrassment, really resonates with me and I just love watching it because it makes me feel less weird. For example, when he's invited to sit in on the radio show, he's clearly uncomfortable, but when the hosts start asking him about Ice Town, he goes into a very realistic shutdown. He can't form a sentence, doesn't know where to look, and when he realizes he can't get through it, he turns to the host and says "can we just..." and sort of helplessly waves his hands, trying to escape. This is exactly what I do in the beginning of a shutdown -- I lose the ability to speak coherently, I regress into being unable to mask, and then I try to escape by any means necessary (because if I know if I can't to leave to calm down, I'll have a meltdown). Later in the episode, Ben does have a meltdown, when he's forced to go on Perd Hapley's tv show. He rambles, shouts, and gets really physically agitated. He even sees visual hallucinations ("Is there a bird in here? I swear I keep seeing a bird in this studio"), which a few studies have shown that autistic people are more likely to have, especially in moments of high stress. Later again in the episode, he has another shutdown on Joan Calamezzo's show, literally unable to speak and physically restless. Leslie helps him through that one, and he is okay (which doesn't always happen with shutdowns, but can). Anyways, not an overabundance of meltdowns/shutdowns, but enough to make me really resonate with his character.
These are just some of the things that really make me think that Ben is good representation of a high-masking autistic individual, and I wanted to bring it up because it made me happy and also I love ranting about this show.
If you agree, that's awesome! But if you don't, that's okay too. And if you've come this far in reading my absurdly long post, maybe you'd like to share your favourite headcanon autistic character -- I'd love to hear about them!
Thanks for reading my random infodump :)
I very much agree with this, Ben is the most relatable TV character of all time to me, I am still in the self diagnosed/ in discussion elements of evaluation with my therapist but 100% think of Ben as Autistic.

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