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Autistic Creative Challenge: Sixth Doctor

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To Peri’s amusement, she watches the Doctor walk into the console room wearing a completely new outfit. Now dressed in all red, his new outfit has the same patchwork as the usual colour explosion he wears, with different shades of red all over it. She laughs, more from surprise than anything else.

“What on Earth are you wearing, Doctor?” she asks through her laughter.

The Doctor raises his eyebrows, not impressed. “I am not wearing anything on Earth, Peri. But if you must know, I am wearing Red Instead.”

“Red instead of what?” Peri says, wondering if she misheard him.

The Doctor sighs. “My dear, Peri, don’t you remember? It is April. That means everyone in your country is ‘lighting it up blue’ for that foul ‘charity’, and everyone who opposes them wears Red Instead in protest.”

Now Peri understands. This is an autism thing. The Doctor rightfully hates Autism Speaks, a hateful group from the 2000s who want to ‘cure’ autism. And, even though he isn’t human, he wants to stand in solidarity with his fellow autistic humans.

“Well,” she says, smiling. “I think it suits you. Is there anything red I can wear?”

The Doctor smiles. “Of course.”

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The Doctor loves to visually stim.

His sense of vision is hyposensitive for the first time, so he can finally enjoy the types of stims his previous incarnations hated. Which means he spends a lot of time staring at bright patterns (such as the ones all over his coat, which he picked especially because of its bright patterns), or waving his fingers in front of his eyes or playing with stimmy things like sand or slime and then filming it so he can watch it again and again.

The other day, he found a lava lamp somewhere in one of the TARDIS’ many cupboards, and was ecstatic when he plugged it in. Since then, he has spent hours watching the liquid move inside the lamp, casting the room in a soft green glow. And he finds it most relaxing.

Peri understands why he needs to stim, but she can’t understand why some of his stims soothe him. But she understands the visual stims.

“It’s so pretty,” she says, her head resting on the Doctor’s shoulder as they sit and watch the lava lamp. “No wonder you find it relaxing.”

By the time he thinks to reply, Peri has fallen asleep.

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For the first time ever, the Doctor isn’t sure if he has a special interest. There are lots of things that interest him, but he doesn’t think anyone of them would qualify as a special interest. After all, special interests require a deep fascination that doesn’t leave you alone, and he can’t say that any of his hobbies or interests are quite like that.

Maybe he simply doesn’t have one. After all, not all autistic people do. It is just one of many traits, and a person doesn’t have to have every trait to be autistic.

Although, he does really like cats. He has an increasingly large collection of cat badges for his jacket and he loves watching videos of cats doing silly things like climbing walls or chasing lasers.

And he really likes making stimming videos too, playing with slime and sand and filming it so he can watch the stimming without having to contaminate his hands again. It is great fun, and even better to watch the videos again and again.

In the end, the Doctor supposes that it doesn’t matter. They still have their interests and they are still autistic, no matter how their traits may present.

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The Doctor finds social interaction extremely difficult. He really has no idea how to communicate properly with other people, even though he is certain that some of his previous incarnations were somewhat proficient in the art of social interaction.

When he tries, he stumbles over his words, having to force them out even though it doesn’t feel natural in the slightest. His forced speech means his words either come out flat, or with too much tone, making him accidentally sound grumpy or sarcastic (even though he is usually neither of them).

And when he does speak properly, his language skills are dreadful too. So he often mangles figures of speech and forgets names and rambles off on tangents that have nothing to do with what he was originally talking about.

And he knows all of this annoys the people he has to communicate with, because it makes conversations slow and laborious and often very difficult to make sense of. But no one finds this more annoying that the Doctor himself, who hates having to speak when it’s so difficult.

In the end, it is just easier for everyone involved to just let Peri do the talking for both of them.

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When Peri awakes, the Doctor is already awake.

This isn’t a new thing; in fact, she can’t remember a time when she awoke and he was still asleep. But it makes sense, given that Time Lords need far less sleep than humans. The Doctor is known to get up in the night and wander around (he usually spends his time in the library or the cinema room), but he always comes back to their bedroom to be in bed for when Peri wakes up.

He is lying beside her, one arm tucked behind his head and the other holding a book in front of his face. A quick glance at the cover shows he is reading a picture book: Tales of Peter Rabbit no less!

The Doctor must notice that she’s awake, because he moves the book and smiles.

“Good morning, Peri,” he says.

Peri yawns and stretches her arms above her head. “Morning.”

“Did you have a good sleep?” he asks.

“Yeah. And you?”

“Yes, I got in a good three hours,” the Doctor says. “And then I went for a wander and found this in the library.” He holds up the book, smiling. “It’s a very good read.”

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To celebrate their one year anniversary as a couple, Peri has decided to throw her and the Doctor a little party. It’s not much, but it does involve a particularly brilliant cake. She has spent ages designing (with a bit of help from the TARDIS) and making it, but it is finally ready. Just in time for their celebration.

Once she has finished decorating the console room of the TARDIS, Peri lays out the cake and heads off to find the Doctor.

As she quite often does, she finds him in the wardrobe room, trying to choose which of his many cat badges he should wear today.

“Doctor?” she says. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

“It isn’t a bad surprise, is it?” the Doctor says, frowning.

She smiles. “Of course not. It’s a good one. Come on, I’ve got something to show you.”

Clearly confused, the Doctor keeps frowning as Peri takes his head and leads him through the TARDIS. But when they enter the console room, his eyes widen. He looks at the decorations and the cake (a scale replica of the TARDIS), and smiles.

“What the…? Peri, you shouldn’t have.”

Peri grins and kisses him. “Happy anniversary.”

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The Doctor is woken up by Peri whispering his name and tapping his shoulder. He groans, trying to go back to sleep, but Peri is persistent.

“Come on, Doctor,” she says. “I need you to get up.”

But the Doctor rolls over, pulling the blankets up over his head.

“Can’t,” he grumbles. “Too tired. Out of spoons.”

And he may be being a complete grump, but the Doctor is actually telling the truth. To use the Spoon Theory (which he discovered long ago and rather likes as disability metaphors go), he is majorly out of spoons. Their adventure yesterday (if you can call nearly getting killed an adventure) completely exhausted him, leaving him exhausted and drained, both physically and mentally.

“Please, Doctor, it’s important!” Peri says, and she sounds distressed.

He pulls the blanket down so his ear is exposed, but he doesn’t open his eyes. “Really?”

“Yeah, there’s something real weird on the scanner,” she says, prodding his shoulder again. “Please, I know how tired you are, but you really need to have a look.”

The Doctor sighs heavily. “Very well. But I’ll need some help getting up.”

He opens his eyes.

Peri grins an understanding smile. “Thanks.”

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“I hate it here,” the Doctor moans, pushing his earplugs further into his ears. He twists the cat badge on his lapel with trembling fingers, wishing he didn’t get so easily overwhelmed. “It’s too loud.”

Beside him, Peri grimaces as she holds his hand to stop them getting separated by the crowd. “I don’t blame you.”

It has been so long since the Doctor last went to London that he has forgotten just how crowded the busy back streets can be. But now they remember, and it is even worse than it was last time.

“Why don’t you put your hands over your ears?” Peri suggests. “It might look a bit silly, but who cares as long as it helps.”

The Doctor smiles weakly. “Yes, who cares what everyone else thinks.”

And so he follows his girlfriend’s advice and clamps his hands over his ears. Peri tucks her hand in his elbow, standing close as they try to navigate through the crowd.

“Why did we think this was a good idea?” the Doctor mutters.

Peri shrugs. “I don’t know. But it was a bad one. Come on, let’s head back to the TARDIS.”

“Yes, to the quiet of the TARDIS.”

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When the phone starts ringing, Peri rushes to answer it. She picks up the old fashioned receiver and puts it to her ear.


“Is that you, Peri?”

Peri makes a squealing sound when she realises it is the Doctor. What with everything that has happened today, she began to wonder if she would ever see him again. But now he has phoned, she knows he is alive and (hopefully) safe.

“Doctor!” she cries, grinning like mad.

“Calm down, Peri,” the Doctor says. “There is nothing to worry about.”

Peri raises her eyebrows, thinking about all the capturing and attacks and generally weird stuff that has happened ever since they landed on Earth in 1930s England.

“Where’re you calling from?” she asks.

“A phone box,” the Doctor says. “I’m glad I had some pre-decimalisation coins in my pocket. People tell you never to clutter your pockets, but it can come in handy.”

Peri smiles, glad to hear the Doctor rambling on about something completely off topic, just like normal.

“I guess it can,” Peri says. “Will you be here soon?”

“In about two hours, I think.”

“I can’t wait to see you again.”

The Doctor hesitates before muttering, “Me too.”

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“How would you prefer me to refer to you when I introduce you to other people?” the Doctor asks, his eyes fixed on the slow moving patterns inside the lava lamp.

“How’d you mean?” Peri says.

“I mean, would you rather me introduce you as my girlfriend, or my partner, or even just lie and say you’re my wife?” he says. “Because I have to introduce you if I meet important people, and I was wondering what title you would prefer.”

He glances at Peri. She is smiling, clearly interested by his rather random topic of discussion.

“I don’t know,” Peri says, more to herself than to the Doctor. “I don’t know how they might react if you called me your wife. I mean, they might say it doesn’t count unless we were married on their planet, and they might have a weird marriage ritual they expect us to do.”

She sounds like she is talking rubbish, but the Doctor has definitely run into something like that in one of his past lives.

“Fair point,” he says. “How about girlfriend?”

Peri shrugs. “A bit too informal. But I like partner. That sounds posh enough.”

He smiles. “Yes, partner sounds good.”

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If you were to ask the Doctor why he is so obsessed with the cat badge pinned to his jacket, his honest answer would have to be:

“Which one?”

Because the badge you can see is only one of many cat badges owned by the Doctor. He has dozens of different badges, all cat shaped, but from many different places in space and time. He has been collecting them ever since he regenerated, although he did find a few in one of the many cupboards inside the TARDIS. But he mainly purchases them wherever he goes, always eager to expand his ever growing collection.

But to answer the question, he just really likes cats. They are wonderful animals, and a cat would be his choice of pet if he ever had one. And because of this, the Doctor decided to wear a cat badge on his jacket. And whenever he found a new badge, he bought it. And he still does.

So now he has a massive collection of cat badges, and can be found deliberating each morning which one to wear today. And Peri can be found stood in the doorway, watching with a fond smile on her face.

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The Doctor must be going into sensory overload, because normal things are suddenly irritating him immensely. Just little things, such as normal noises the TARDIS makes or the smell of Peri’s perfume (which he usually really likes; in fact, Peri chose it especially because it was one of the few perfumes she tried that the Doctor could bear to be around), hurt his senses, and he just wants to cut himself off from everything to stop it getting worse.

And his skin is really sensitive too, his clothes hurting his skin. The seams feel like they are cutting into his skin, whilst the slightly-textured fabric rubs like sandpaper. He normally loves the texture of his clothes, so he knows that this is definitely a sensory overload.

Basically, everything feels wrong, and he hates it.

Peri must have noticed his problem, because she walks over and keeps her voice low as she says, “Would you like to go to bed?”

Slightly disorientated, the Doctor nods his head.

And so Peri helps him find the bedroom, shutting the door behind him so he can be alone. And he curls up on the bed and groans, feeling awful but glad he has Peri.

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“It is so difficult to find media representation for asexuality,” the Doctor says bitterly, twisting his cat badge around and around. He reclines his chair back, staring up at the Gallifreyan television programme playing on the wall screen. “Because even in the far future, there is barely any representation for an entire sexuality. And it drives me mad sometimes.”

Sat beside him, Peri nods her head. “I know what you mean. It’s kinda the same when you’re bisexual. Sure, there are lots of characters who date multiple genders sometimes, but they never actually say it. And that’s so frustrating, because I want to see actual bi people like me. But I barely ever do.”

The Doctor sighs and raises an eyebrow. “Exactly. But if you think LGBT representation is bad, you should try disability representation. I mean, the number of autistic characters in the media is virtually nonexistent. And what there is tends to be awful stereotypes. There are so few genuinely decent autistic characters out there, and that just infuriates me. We deserve to see ourselves in the media, but we never seem to get to. And I hate it.”

Peri sighs sadly and squeezes his hand. “Me too.”

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When Peri wakes up, the Doctor isn’t in bed. But there is a piece of notepaper resting on his pillow. She picks it up and finds a note written in the Doctor’s rather messy handwriting.

I had a meltdown earlier and I went nonverbal. I just wanted to tell you this because I won’t be able to explain with spoken words. Unfortunately, I have yet to teach you sign language, so we will have to communicate via typing or writing for the time being. I hope you understand.
The Doctor.

She sighs, hating that he struggled with a horrible meltdown all by himself. And she also doesn’t really know what to do. She has never seen the Doctor go nonverbal before. She just hopes she can help.

Peri gets up and goes to locate him. She finds the Doctor in the console room, doing some kind of scan. He looks tired and wobbly, and smiles weakly when he sees her.

“Hello, Doctor,” she says. “How are you feeling now?”

He shrugs and gestures for her to come closer. And then he grasps her hand as he types onto one of the many keyboards, much better now. Thank you, Peri.

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“Doctor?” Peri asks, having to walk quickly to keep up with the Doctor.

“Yes, Peri?” the Doctor says, his hands tucked into his pockets.

“What are those things?”

She points to a stand near the back of the shop, where they are selling strange shaped things called ‘Fidget Spinners’.

“They are stim toys,” he says. “You know, like Tangles or Fidget Cubes. They’re quite a phenomenon in the 2010s.”

“Cool,” Peri says. “How do they work?”

The Doctor smiles. “Observe, my dear Peri.”

The Doctor picks up the spinner not in its packaging, obviously there to be tried. He puts his thumb and forefinger on the middle, and then flicks the spinner. It spins around and around, merging into a blur and making a soft whirring sound. The Doctor looks rather content, holding it up so it spins in front of his eyes.

“See?” he says.

“Do you already own one?” Peri asks, watching the spinner slow to a stop.

He nods. “Yes, several. Including a yellow one that would match both your skirt and my trousers. Why, would you like one?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t,” the Doctor says, smiling and spinning the stim toy again.

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There are many places the Doctor enjoys visiting and spending time at, but none of them ever compare to his TARDIS. Because he adores his TARDIS more than he could ever explain in words.

The TARDIS just does so much for him. It translates languages so he can communicate verbally with people from all cultures and planets with very few problems. It works with him when he needs help managing sensory issues or calming down from a meltdown, working more quietly and changing the lights and making it easier for him to deal with. And its many computers and keyboards means that communicating with Peri whilst nonverbal is far easier than it ever would be outside of the TARDIS.

And it may break easily, but the problems are usually easy to fix (well, usually); and he has never had a problem with it looking like a police box (to be a bit pretentious, it adds character).

Peri loves the TARDIS too (“It’s weird but awesome,” was how she explained it. “I love living in here with you.”), so that’s another thing he has in common with his human partner. And it’s always nice to have things in common with Peri.

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“Doctor, what’s inspiration porn?” Peri asks, looking up from the article she was reading on the TARDIS’ databank. It’s a very interesting article about autism and discrimination, but a phrase it used has confused her.

“Hmm?” the Doctor mumbles, not looking up from his book.

“Here, in this article. It talks about something called inspiration porn. Do you know what it is?”

The Doctor looks up and his mouth twitches into a small smile. “It is a term to describe the irritating thing a lot of able-bodied or neurotypical people do, where they make disabled people into nothing but figures to inspire them.” He grimaces. “Such highlights include making slogans like ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude’ or pulling the ‘if this disabled person can do something why can’t you?’ card to shame their fellow abled people.”

Peri stares at him. “That’s complete bullshit!”

“Language, Peri,” the Doctor says, raising an eyebrow.

“I’ve seen things like that and it always pissed me off, but I never knew why. But now I understand. And I can see why it drives you mad, Doctor.”

The Dctor sighs, smiling weakly, and puts his arm around her shoulders. “Thank you, Peri.”

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When the Doctor asked her if she wanted to protest an Autism Awareness march, Peri was confused. But then she remembered why she and the Doctor hate these people so much, and she immediately loved the idea. The Doctor grinned and gave her a kiss, delighted, and set about planning their visit.

One day, he lands the TARDIS in an American city on Earth in the twenty first century Armed with the leaflets they made and wearing their favourite red clothes, the Doctor and Peri hold hands and head into the centre of the park, where the Light it up Blue march is taking place.

The Doctor shudders, and Peri hugs him, hating how these people upset him so much. But then he smiles a determined smile, and the pair of them start trying to hand people their leaflets. The leaflets talk about going Red Instead and supporting decent charities that actually help autistic people, but only two people talk leaflets.

Eventually, Peri gets sick of these assholes ignoring them in favour of the Autism Awareness people. So she just yells, “Fuck you all!”

And the Doctor bursts out laughing, flapping his hands as they run back to the TARDIS.

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The Doctor likes routines, but only when he’s in control of them.

As Peri has seen many times, the Doctor likes regulations and rules around his life, but only when he creates and enforces them. For example, he sets the environmental controls in the TARDIS so he and Peri go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even though he barely needs to sleep. He says it’s because keeping the same daily timings as Peri helps him feel in control, and he likes sleeping with her (literally). He says he hates being awake in the TARDIS when she is asleep. He says he hates being alone. And this routine helps him feel happy and safe.

But then there are the times people try to enforce routines on him. Such as a time they both get arrested for landing the TARDIS in a battlefield, and the prison guards force everyone to get up and eat at the times the prison specifies. And the Doctor doesn’t take it well. He has repeated meltdowns, and is still feeling ill by the time he and Peri escape back to the TARDIS. And Peri just wishes he didn’t feel so ill.

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The Doctor loves cats. He loves the way they act, how they are a bit offish with humans and that means some people don’t like them, but how they are wonderfully caring creatures behind this sort of distant façade. In fact, he often mentions how this is a complete similarity to autistic people and neurotypicals, expressing this as part of why he loves cats so much.

So with his love of cats considered, it makes sense that he loves wearing cat badges. He has a large collection of badges, but the largest type of badges he owns is cat badges. He always has a different one on the lapel of his brightly coloured coat, showing off his collection of favourite badges.

The Doctor’s fascination with cats sometimes amuses Peri, but she never mocks the Doctor. That would be horribly cruel. And, besides, she loves cats too.

One time, he lets her borrow one of his favourite badges, and Peri nearly cries. This simple gesture means so much to them both, showing a display of trust and love. And Peri gives a kiss, loving the Doctor and loving the badge and loving his special interest. She just loves him so much.

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The Doctor has a habit of being rather brutally honest. Being tactful isn’t exactly his forte, and the Doctor has offended many people by being a bit too blunt with his honestly.

Although, to be fair, some social rules really don’t make sense. And even after being alive for centuries, the Doctor still hasn’t perfected some of them. For example, there is a social rule he messed up only the other day…

Grinning as she admired her reflection in the mirror, Peri twirled around and watched the long skirts of her dark blue dress flutter around her. She thought it suited her so much, and went to find the Doctor to show him the dress.

She found him in the console room. Giving another twirl, she said, “Doctor, look at my new dress? D’you think it suits me?”

The Doctor looked at her, clearly thinking hard. And then he said, “I’m not sure about the colour, Peri. Maybe you would look better in another one?”

For a second, Peri thought about getting mad. But instead she just started laughing.

So, yes, the Doctor can certainly be bluntly honest. But Peri doesn’t mind… and he never fails to make her laugh.

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The Doctor has taken Peri to hundreds of places all through the galaxy, through all different periods in time. In fact, they have been to so many places that she can’t even begin to remember them all. But there are some she will never forget.

Some she won’t forget for bad reasons, because the planets were inhabited by aliens who tried to kill them both and blow up the TARDIS. There have been far too many times when they’ve been attacked and had to flee, gasping for breath as they dematerialise the TARDIS and escape to safety. And Peri sometimes wishes that the Doctor would bother to research these planets before he takes her to them.

But there are a few places she won’t forget simply because they are some of the most beautiful places in the entire galaxy. Such as the planet covered in clear blue oceans, or the huge garden full of flowers as far as the eye can see.

But her favourite has seven huge moons and has the most beautiful view of the whole solar system at night. And she feels like she could stay there forever, so grateful to be dating someone like the Doctor.

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Peri is so happy when she’s with The Doctor. She met his fifth self (and was best friends with him) but fell totally and completely in love with his sixth self, the Doctor she knows right now. He might be a bit eccentric (well, very eccentric), but he’s such a nice person when you get to know him and she knows he cares about her more than anyone else in the whole galaxy. And she loves the TARDIS and the wonderful adventures the Doctor takes her on, and she just feels so safe and happy when she is with him.



The Doctor is so happy when he’s with Peri. He met her in his previous incarnation, but they were just friends. But they fell in love this time around. And he loves her so much. She cares about him and understands his autism and stands up for him when people are ableist and never tells him to shut up when he infodumps and helps him make stim toys. And she loves travelling with him and the Doctor is so glad and he loves travelling with her too. And he just feels so accepted and happy when he is with her.

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As much as the Doctor would like to deny it, he has to admit that he isn’t as independent as he would at first appear. Throughout almost all of his travels through time and space, he has had companions with him. But most people don’t know just how much he relies on his companions, especially when going into sensory overload or nonverbal.

And as Peri is his current companion (and partner and best friend), he has had to rely on her for support on more than one occasion. She’s learning sign language so they can communicate when he goes nonverbal, and Peri often has to help the Doctor leave nosy or stressful places before he goes into sensory overload or even has a meltdown.

Sometimes, he calls himself weak for needing support from others when everyone else he knows is completely independent. And Peri always tells him to shut up.

“Don’t talk like that,” she says firmly. “It doesn’t matter what other people are like. You’re not other people. You’re you, and needing support sometimes isn’t a bad thing.”

The Doctor smiles weakly. “Thank you, Peri.”

And Peri holds both of his hands and gives him a kiss. “No problem.”

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“Doctor, what does bigender mean?” Peri asks, wandering into the room.

The Doctor raises his eyebrows. “Why do you ask?”

“I was looking through one of the closets and I found a load of pride stuff, and one was a badge that said ‘I am bigender’ over a real pretty flag. And I’ve never heard of that? So what does it mean?”

“It’s a nonbinary gender identity, Peri,” he says, always glad to talk about his queer identities. “You do know what nonbinary means?”

“Of course I do,” Peri mutters, but she’s smiling. “I’m not that ignorant.”

“Well, anyway, it means you identify as two genders, either at once or changing between them. For me, it means I feel both male and agender at the same time.”

Peri grins. “I get it now! It’s great that there are so many identities out there for everyone. Like the split attraction thing. I had no idea you could label your sexual and romantic attractions differently, but it clearly works for you.”

The Doctor smiles, remembering the day Peri came out as bisexual and he came out as heteroromantic asexual. “Yes, it works for me. And I’m so grateful that you understand me.”

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“Perpugilliam Brown,” the Doctor says, exaggerating the syllables in her name as he says it. He looks so relaxed when he speaks, pronouncing Peri’s full name carefully.

This is echolalia. The Doctor does it a lot, particularly on the days where he isn’t fully verbal. It means he repeats words other people have said, over and over again.

“Perpugilliam Brown.”

Sometimes, he repeats words straight back to her (like last week when she said, “Hi, Doctor!” and he said, “Hi, Doctor!” straight back to her in a flat tone of voice), but other times the words could have been said years ago. He often repeats lines characters said on TV programmes. It has lots of different forms, but Peri is used to them.

“Perpugilliam Brown.”

It’s a neurodivergent thing. It’s a way for the Doctor to communicate when he can’t say spontaneous speech. It’s a bit weird to observe sometimes, but it’s harmless and helps the Doctor.

“Perpugilliam Brown.”

Yesterday, Peri had to tell an alien her full name. That must be the sample of conversation the Doctor is echoing.

“Perpugilliam Brown.”

Some people might find it annoying, but Peri doesn’t care. She loves the Doctor for who he is.

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The Doctor loves colours, especially bright ones. He knows some of his previous incarnations hated bright colours (most of his previous selves had hypersensitive senses of vision, so bright things made their eyes hurt), but the Doctor loves bright colours this time around.

He loves to visually stim, looking at bright patterns and colours and just feeling himself relax and calm down. He looks at his bright green lava lamp, he looks at photographs of beautiful bright landscapes, he looks at paintings that use wonderful neon colours, and he looks at bright slimes and other stim toys that have bright patterns that fascinate him to look at. And he never grows tired of watching sunsets all over the galaxy, staring at wonderful bright patterns as the suns go down.

If it wasn’t already obvious, this is the reason why he loves his multicoloured coat so much (well, other than the fact that it’s unique and eccentric, just like him). And he wears his colourful coat with pride and stims by looking at its beautiful colours and patterns, and is proud that this incarnation is brilliant at not caring what other people think of him. He just wants to be himself.

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The Doctor once said that he has no idea how to empathise with others. And what he said was totally true. As much as he wants to pretend that he is an intelligent Time Lord, he gets incredibly puzzled when it comes to empathising with other people.

Not that lacking empathy makes him unintelligent. It is a rather common thing for neurodivergent people to have low empathy and therefore find it almost impossible to empathise with other people. And the Doctor is one of these people.

Well, he is this time around. His first and fourth selves had problems with empathy, but mostly the Doctor has always been reasonably proficient with empathy. But this sixth incarnation of the Doctor struggles with low empathy most of all.

He deeply, deeply cares about Peri. He would hurt people if they so much as threatened her. He loves her more than anyone else he knows. But when Peri is upset or hurt, he has no idea how to empathise with her. Yes, he can be compassionate and work out how to comfort her. But he can’t feel her emotions with her. He can’t understand what she feels.

And he hates it so much.

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The Doctor is very, very clever. She’s not denying that. In fact, he the cleverest person Peri has ever met and will probably ever meet. But still… for someone so intelligent, the Doctor sometimes misses the obvious and massively overcomplicates things.

Such as yesterday, when his need to overcomplicate things nearly caused the TARDIS to blow up. The TARDIS was malfunctioning (again) and the Doctor tried desperately to fix the problem. But with all of his calculations about velocity and other complicated physics terms, he never thought of something simple: that a button had broken. And to Peri’s relief, he listened to her suggestion and found it was true. And then the problem was over (again).

She’s no mad, because everyone makes mistakes and they sorted the problem out in the end. But Peri has to wonder if this is an autism thing, or a Doctor thing. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, she’s going to have to teach him how to think outside of the box, and to take the more simple routes when solving a problem. Otherwise this whole thing will probably happen again when the TARDIS malfunctions again. Because the TARDIS malfunctions so much.

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“What does neurotypical mean?” Peri asks, watching the Doctor stare at the lava lamp.

“Why do you ask?” he says without looking away from the light.

“’Cause you said it earlier when you were ranting about that guy who called you the r-word. You called him a ‘neurotypical asshole who doesn’t give a crap about anyone different to yourself’. And I don’t know what it means.”

The Doctor flinches slightly at the memory, but he quickly smiles as she recites part of his wonderful rant. “I believe I said ‘arsehole’ not ‘asshole’,” he says, butchering her American accent whilst being pedantic. “But point understood. And it means someone who isn’t neurodivergent, so mentally ill or developmentally disabled.”

“Ah, I get you,” Peri says. “So, am I neurotypical?”

He nods. “Yes, not that being neurotypical is a bad thing. I just hate the sort of neurotypicals like him who don’t bother to understand that some people are different.”

“I understand,” she says, remembering all her rants about men, when she actually means the asshole men out there, not all of them. “And I’m sorry he said that to you, Doctor. There’s nothing wrong with being autistic.”

He kisses her. “Thank you.”