Autism, Heroes, and the TSS

Heroes take action. This truth draws readers to comic books. In Face Value Comics, our hero evolves his social awareness and sensory coping skills to overcome his clinical expressions of autism. His greatest friend remains a loyal bio-droid, T.E.S.S. She, too, changes and matures. Sky Owens created the image of T.E.S.S. as this blog post’s Featured Image.

T.E.S.S.’ name is a clear nod to therapeutic support staff, or TSS. As professional helpers, these front-line warriors frequently assist young persons with autism. Sadly, T.S.S. services offer just similarly-comparative wages to most entry-level positions (despite requiring college graduation). A well-educated person who spends a LOT of direct time in a child’s immediate proximity – to help the child – gets paid peanuts. When we, the autistic community, ask for “awareness” and “acceptance” each April, why do we think neurotypical people find the same any easier?

T.E.S.S. took action. Although she is a sentient plant/robot hybrid, T.E.S.S. understood her programmatic responsibilities. She upgraded her photosynthetic plating to appear more human…for the (now) young adult once in her care. T.E.S.S. learned the most valuable lessons she teaches is about being human: showing care, compassion, and concern. So too can a TSS role-model how to be one’s best self in many different circumstances – even in comic books.

T.E.S.S. reminds us why we take action. Even without comic book antics, these characteristics define memorable heroes. Heroes take action to help others be their best, because we believe in beautiful human potential and happiness.

Do you think our literally-personified T.S.S. is a hero? The Zephyr does. Do you think therapeutic support staff are heroes? We do.

Finally, notice her eyes. The University of Massachusetts-Lowell found autistic students gravitated towards steampunk art because of its easily recognized cause-and-effect patterns. Other diagnostic studies find eye-contact difficult for some persons with autism. We remembered these ideas while designing our T.E.S.S. image, above. The cog and eyes are the same color and shape. Our artist added blue-within-blue pupils. Together, this art helps draw the viewer to T.E.S.S.’ eyes…with or without autism.

BY the way- did you notice an oppressive use of “eye” sounding words in the above paragraph? Words like di-agnostic and i-deas helped reinforce the topic: “eye” contact and desensitization. Now you see two ways we can make it happen with comic books; art and printed script work together.

Oh, and T.E.S.S. can recharge her batteries by absorbing sunlight. She can also re-emit sunlight through her eyes to cause unfocused enemies to pause, causing “mindblindness.” In an emergency, she can project whip-like vines from her fingertips. To be honest, we don’t think your TSS can do those things under your health insurance. Here’s a sketch of T.E.S.S. taking action to protect our hero:

Punch Page 9

Much love to our friend, Travis Woo. Watch Travis, a gaming legend, talk about what makes a hero, here:


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