autism, Asperger, children's literature, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, juvenile literature, children's book awards


As many children first encounter individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) through characters in children’s literature, these individuals must be depicted authentically. Using descriptive analyses, we evaluated 38 books written for children and adolescents (11 picture books, 17 chapter books) for their portrayals of characters with developmental disabilities, comparing the portrayals against those published in three previous studies. All books considered were eligible for the 2018 Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award. Data were analyzed regarding personal portrayal, social interactions, and exemplary practices. Results indicated that most characters portrayed have ASD (80%) and the majority are male (65%). Generally, characters with DD are portrayed positively and realistically, but many remain static throughout the stories. They engage in positive social relationships and are included in integrated settings. Implications for educators, authors/publishers, and researchers are provided.

Original Publication Citation

Dyches, T. T., Egan, K., Moss, K., Grow, H., Black, S., & Prater, M. A. (2018). Same but different: Characters with developmental disabilities in current juvenile literature. DADD Online Journal: Research to Practice, 5(1), 73-89.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Council for Exceptional Children - Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor