As if on a different Planet
In her “Schattenspringer” comics, Daniela Schreiter portrays how she and other people with Asperger syndrome cope with their condition, which makes them feel as if they have “landed on the wrong planet”. Her art helps her come to terms with serious real-life experiences.
By Stefan Pannor
At a glanceDaniela Schreiter was born in West Berlin in 1982. She studied law in Berlin from 2003 until 2008. She was diagnosed in 2009 with Asperger syndrome, a special form of autism. Typical symptoms are oversensitivity and a sense of isolation. In 2012 she began engaging with her experiences in her Schattenspringer comics, which initially appeared online.
A difficult decisionThe cartoonist explains that she thought long and hard about whether she should talk about her condition and publish her comics online. “People with autism have to fight against a lot of prejudice and discrimination, especially in their working lives”, says Schreiter. What is more, working on the comics was emotionally difficult for her: “I experienced many flashbacks, particularly to childhood experiences. I frequently had to take a break before I could continue with my drawing.”
A special work“People with Asperger syndrome often feel that they have landed on the wrong planet” is how Schreiter introduces her reminiscences in the comic. She explains how she was bullied and ostracized at school because she was unable to understand the social codes of her fellow pupils, and how she had to battle with breakdowns because her oversensitivity posed an excessive burden on her nervous system. To lessen the tragic quality of the subject matter, Schreiter repeatedly portrays herself in her comics as a clumsy oaf. She uses self-mockery and seriousness in equal measure: “This provides an easier way into this serious subject, and reduces the inhibitions people have about engaging with it.”
Typical symptoms of Asperger syndrome are oversensitivity and a sense of isolation.
Schreiter thought long and hard about whether she should talk about her condition. It has helped her be more open in the way she deals with her own problems and limitations, however.
She experienced many flashbacks while working on the comic, particularly to childhood experiences. “I frequently had to take a break before I could continue with my drawing”, she explains.
The experience also made her stronger. In “Autistic Hero-Girl” she appears as the eponymous superhero.