Can you do a companions react to the Inquisitor being Autistic? Especially Cole?
I (Mod Sarah) am autistic, so I was very pleased to see this request. That being said, autism is a wide-reaching term for an entire spectrum of symptoms that affect people differently– every autistic person is unique, and each has their own quirks and symptoms. I feel that companion responses would vary, depending on what symptoms and behaviors the Inquisitor in question is displaying. For the sake of simplicity, I will be basing this autistic Inquisitor off of my own unique brand of autism, finely aged and diagnosed for the last ten years. Let’s get this show on the road.
Cassandra: Their behavior confounds her, at least at first. They avoid eye contact like the plague, can have intense reactions to stimuli, such as loud noises like explosions upset them with ease. She at first thought they were just being childish, but eventually realizes they’re genuinely hypersensitive to certain things. She guesses that they’re not exactly neurotypical, judging by behavior, and tries to be more receptive to their needs and sensitivities after finding out they’re innocent. It doesn’t particularly bother her that they fidget and stim and avoid eye contact, or even sometimes speak too loudly or too quietly– so long as they’re honest and good at heart. Iron Bull later on describes a mental condition known to the Qun that’s akin to autism and other development disorders, and she agrees that they likely are autistic. If Romanced: He likes just lying by her side, citing the same poems he knows by heart, staring up at the sky with her. She’s smiling, too, as she listens, knowing the poem by heart from repeated recitations as she holds his hand and looks up at the world beyond, so long as they’re there for each other.
Iron Bull: He’s met people like them. He figures it out after observing them, and he adapts accordingly. The Qun values people like them, especially if they have special interests, which are encouraged and honed for special jobs as adults. As a result, he respects them more at first. He accommodates them, and never asks them why they avoid eye contact or fidget or stim in any way. He informs the others what he thinks is different about them, and that’s about it. The man is also good at figuring out what they mean when they speak somewhat disorderly, as if words got jumbled before coming out, and often clarifies for the others. He’s a big source of help during the Winter Palace, getting them out of sight and letting them calm down or stim when overwhelmed. If Romanced: Sex with him is somewhat specialized, but fantastic– he figures out what they do and don’t like, and he works with it. Sometimes they just lay side-by-side, while he massages their muscles in just the way they like it, whispering sweet words of comfort at just the right tone for them, repeated and quiet.
Blackwall: He’s never encountered someone like them, so he thought, until Bull tells him that he likely has but never noticed. He’s not really sure how to go about them, so he just decides he’ll take it in stride and work with them. It works well, and they’re comfortable with each other. After he’s revealed to be Thom Rainier, they actually get over it pretty fast, regarding what he did as a Bad Thing, but he’s trying to make up for it, which they accept. If Romanced: He’s more worried than usual about going into romance with them, because he’s worried that if and when they find out who he is, she’ll have a meltdown, she’ll refuse to even look at him, what have you. He doesn’t want to break her heart. When the time comes, she’s having a meltdown, but not because of who he is– but because he’s in jail, and she desperately wants him to come home. When he finally does, he gets a scolding, but she forgives him. He decides that his new mission in life is making her safe and happy, like she made him.
Sera: She doesn’t care in the least– in fact, she likes it. She sort of relates to them, actually– to the point where she starts wondering if she’s autistic at all. She gives them all sorts of things and textures to fiddle with. She speaks at a level that doesn’t upset them (while she enjoys yelling and cheering and howling with laughter, she’ll take it down a notch for their sake) and will viciously prank anyone who gives them shit for their quirks. “It’s not like they can help it. It’s just who they are, and anyone who says otherwise can knob it.” If Romanced: The romance proceeds mostly like normal, though she doesn’t start yelling at her in the culminate scene when describing her nightmare, because she knows it will upset her. Instead, she avoids her, frustrated and trying to figure out how to describe what’s going on, and opts for writing it down. The Herald reads it, looks up at her, and frowns. “But I love you,” the she says, sounding a little hurt, “I’m sorry about the dream, but dreams are dreams. They don’t have to come true. I just want to be with you.” Sera’s heart melts, and tackles her with a kiss.
Varric: He’s very understanding and unfazed by their quirks, and isn’t surprised when Bull mentions they’re probably autistic. He just works with it, with who they are, and treats them like people, not just a weirdo. “So what if you’re a little different? That’s what makes you who you are, and you’re fine.” They like listening to him tell stories– his voice is nice and even and calm, which calms them down. Often they ask for the same few stories they like again and again, but Varric doesn’t mind– he’s happy to have an enraptured audience. He also suggests to them trying to write to get their thoughts out, to express themselves, and it helps.
Cole: He is of a LOT of help to the Inquisitor. He’s good at voicing how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking if they’re incapable in any way of doing so, as well as getting them things they need but don’t vocalize that they need. “They’re a little different in the way their thoughts work, but they think of new and wonderful things that most can’t. They are good the way they are.” He protests whenever they have to mask how they actually act, citing it as stressing them out and exhausting. He also knows exactly what textures, sounds, and tastes they do or don’t like, often bringing them things for stimming to calm them down or steering them away from offending stimuli, such as excessively bright lights or noise. If they have a special interest(s), he happily listens to them info-dump without getting remotely bored– it makes the Herald so happy, which makes him happy.
Vivienne: She was a little off-put by how they acted in her chateau at first, but she starts suspecting something isn’t normal about them aside from the mark. When Bull explains the disorder to her, she does research and quickly comes to agree with the diagnosis. She’s significantly more patient with them as a result, and she tries to coach them on talking to people. “Unfortunately for you, eye contact is a standard of Orlesian society,” she says, “if this is too difficult for you, try focusing your attention on a nose or intricate part of the mask. They’ll never tell the difference.” When it comes to fidgeting, she actually gets them a notebook and fancy quill, and advises them to play with the quill against the notebook when at parties– Orlesians will just think they’re working and admire it, while they can stim to some extent. She recognizes it’s part of who they are, and must be worked with instead of covered up.
Dorian: They get frustrated easily with social interaction, and if they recruit the mages, practically the whole time spent in future Redcliffe is them trying to not have a meltdown or sensory overload. He tries his best to keep them as calm as possible, but begins to think that maybe there’s more going on with them than just panic at their situation. Bull explains what he thinks is up with them, and Dorian buries himself in whatever information he can get about the disorder. He gets good at calming them down and using certain spells to numb certain sensations or noises, which greatly reduces their stress levels. If Romanced: He cringes, at first, when the Herald bluntly tells anyone who asks that he’s his boyfriend. They don’t understand at all why it should be hidden in any regard, and Dorian tries to explain his discomfort, or at least plans to– until he sees him positively glowing with joy and pride as he talks about him, and Dorian smiles and reconsiders. He really does love him, and Dorian knows it– and loves him back.
Solas: He’s seen memories of people somewhat like them in the Fade, being social outcasts, misunderstood and called stupid when they were anything but. He won’t treat them like that, and he strives to understand them and their disability to the best of his ability. If they don’t mind, he asks a lot of questions about how they feel and think. Often he listens to them info-dump about their special interest, if they have one, and sometimes they get embarrassed. He just encourages them to go on. If Romanced: Assuming Lavellan has a special interest of some sort, he starts taking her into the Fade, showing her old memories of anything related to what she’s interested in. He listens to her talk, happy and excited, and she thanks him with a kiss. “Ma serannas, ma vhenan!” she squeals. “No, I am the one who should be thanking you, Vhenan.” he replies with a chuckle and another kiss, soft and sweet.
Josephine: She notices their lack of tolerance for eye contact before any other symptoms, and while initially worried she did something wrong, the others explain the Herald’s unorthodox behaviors and tics. She, along with Vivienne, tries her best to coach them on talking and interacting with others. It’s not without hard work and tears and meltdowns on the Herald’s part, but they have relatively smooth sailing in the Winter Palace with their hard work. They’re absolutely exhausted after trying to act neurotypical, and she always feels so bad for them and tries to compensate them with something they like. She also cringes at their awful handwriting– it looks like chicken scratch on steroids– and figures out it’s due to poor eye-hand coordination. She also spends a lot of time trying to remedy this, even considering hiring a scribe to help them. If Romanced: They like listening to her just talk about her day, sometimes asking her to repeat stories again and again, old and new. They cuddle on the couch before the fireplace in their room while they cuddle, and Josephine is full of bliss.
Leliana: She’s unfazed by their unusual behavior and tics, and is remarkably patient with them. She likes it when they don’t hide it, because she can tell how they’re actually feeling and thinking most of the time when they don’t mask themselves. She sometimes gives them raven feathers that have fallen to the ground to the Herald for them to run their fingers along the smooth texture, which pleases them. It always brings a smile to her face to see them relax, even a little.
Cullen: You meet all sorts of people in the Circle, and autistic mages (and the occasional templar) were among them. He’s receptive to their sensitivities and needs, and accommodates them without complaint or so much as a second thought. He takes it all in stride, knowing that’s just how they are. When Bull tells him about autism, he just nods. “That explains a lot about a lot of different mages I’ve met over the years.” he remarks. If Romanced: She likes running her fingers through his hair, a sort of stim in and of itself, and he tolerates it, listening to her hum and chatter about the day’s events.