When I was first introduced to Sherlock Holmes I was in elementary school, but all I knew about him was that he was some kind of outstanding detective, and the best in the business. I never got too into his stories or anything like that, so growing up that’s pretty much all I knew about him. As I began reading “A Study in Scarlet”, I quickly began questioning Holmes and his personality. The part of the story that really caught my attention was towards the beginning when he was first introduced to Watson and seemed to have magically known (with no prior knowledge) that his “new friend” had just recently returned from Afghanistan. How does someone just know that? I was instantly skeptical, thinking that someone had told him, or since we are reading this book in a class based on autism in fiction that possibly this incident symbolized a special ability that Holmes possessed.
As I continued reading, I paused to do some side research. There were some instances regarding Holmes’ personality that could have been indicators that he was on the spectrum. Immediately I wanted to see what other people had to say about that. All I typed in to Google was “Sherlock Holmes autism” and of course a million sources popped up. However, most of those sources had to deal with the TV shows created about the fictional character. Still curious, I clicked on a few diverse links regarding the TV show and saw that people seemed to be torn on whether or not to diagnose a fictional character with autism or not. Then, I decided to dig a little deeper. I typed in “How can we tell that Sherlock Holmes had autism?” and I got similar results, but a few different ones. The one that caught my eye was a search title that read “Sherlock Holmes- Autism!!??!”. This turned out to be a blog-like site where people could state their opinions on whether or not Holmes was on the spectrum. I was intrigued, so I decided to read what people had to say. Many people were certain that he was on the spectrum, while others said they had never thought about his behavior as autistic behavior. Some people were completely against the idea saying that since the medical term “autism” wasn’t even in existence at the time the stories were written, there is no way he could be autistic. Others even pointed out that their teachers had taught them in school that Sherlock Holmes was autistic, so therefore they believed it was absolutely true with no questioning of it.
Deciding to throw my own opinion into the mix, I think it’s possible that Holmes could have been on the spectrum given that he did illustrate symptoms of autism through his detective work, and outside of it as well. However, I do think in some ways it is a long shot to say that certainly the author of the stories was trying to make readers see that there was something wrong with Holmes, and that he was different and excelled at different things for a reason. The idea is very interesting to think about, and I wouldn’t doubt that the author of the stories didn’t make Holmes’ character the way he did just for pure entertainment.