Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dear Autism “Community”: Do You HEAR Yourselves?

seinfeldThese are REAL comments on Autism Daddy’s facebook page concerning Jerry Seinfeld’s recent disclosure that he might be on the autism spectrum:

Melissa P: “As the mother of a very high functioning Aspie, I was very offended by Jerry Seinfeld’s self diagnosis. I saw his stand up once and saw beneath the veneer of his comedy an arrogant, elitist prick. His “social awkwardness” comes from his elitist viewpoint atop his magic money empire which prevents him from connecting with an “average” person. It doesn’t make him an Aspie, it makes him an a-hole.”

Karen D: “…gee what I wouldn’t give to have my essentially non-verbal son have a hit tv show for over a decade, make millions, talk casually on Letterman and Leno, do stand up. It’s like night and day, cookies and carrots, hard and easy…yeah they have things in common but they are so far from each other it’s hard to see their commonality. An when you’re struggling it’s hard to empathsize with a very successful, rich, funny star saying he’s got troubles too.”

Jessi F: “I generally take issue with adults who self-diagnose – not saying adult dx doesn’t happen, but go to a professional & then I’ll believe you. Seeing anyone quirky/different as being on the spectrum annoys the everloving shit out of me (my kids are relatively high-functioning, but have OCD, anxiety, and major depression to go with. Fun times.)”

Shannon N: “I’m really conflicted about this, because I think many people can see particular traits that are present in autism in themselves even if neurotypical. Maybe there’s more to it than what he said in the interview. It just seems that lately anyone that finds themselves to be a bit quirky, or not extroverted, is identifying as autistic.”

Just out of curiosity, how many of the people who form an opinion like these above have spent any real amount of time with the folks they are judging? And exactly what data are they using to make these judgments? Also, when they are out in public with their child with autism who might be having a meltdown, or if they are themselves having a meltdown, do they whip out the psych eval that proves such to show passersby? WHO ARE YOU SO ANGRY WITH??? It is not, and never has been, a competition along the spectrum of autism. Yet that’s a complete lie because it actually has always been a competition because no matter who you are as an individual with autism, you are labeled as either “high-functioning”, “low-functioning”, “self-diagnosed”, “non-verbal”, or some other twist of vocabulary to make sure you are put in your place. Why? God only knows. It serves NO PURPOSE whatsoever. In fact, not only does it create inappropriate limitations on some, but it creates inappropriate expectations on others. It creates crippling animosity between the “levels of functioning” on the spectrum, especially between parents and caregivers. And here, in the case of Mr. Seinfeld, it paints a contradictory portrait of what autism for a man “like him” should look like. When convenient, parents and caregivers, and self-advocates will use this common description of autism: “There is no one autism.” However, they quickly rescind that philosophy when met with a high-functioning celebrity with autism – then the adage simply doesn’t apply. Out yourself as gay? Sure. No one claims that without being brave as hell. You’re going to face either abject persecution from family, friends and society, or if you’re extremely blessed you’ll only live with the daily discrimination our society as a whole still dishes out. Got cancer? No one jokes about having cancer so you’re likely telling the truth. No one starts a judgy facebook thread on whether or not you really have cancer and certainly no one gets into public arguments about whether or not your one malignant mole is as scary as full-on liver cancer. It’s CANCER. Everyone freaks out and offers to bring you a meal. BUT AUTISM OR ASPERGERS???? HOLD UP. Everyone suddenly decides to take to the streets and online minefields to debate that shit and ignore that you just opened your soul for the world to see. Statements like: “Everyone is on the spectrum somewhere, we’re all a little quirky. No big deal.” Why should they treat you with compassion and empathy? Why acknowledge that you have come forward displaying what you believe or know for certain is a lifelong condition of your very being? Apparently because you chose this and the autism community simply disagrees. This is AUTISM. It was there from birth. Imagine the host of feelings for an adult to finally find the answers they have been searching a lifetime for! When I discovered my autism, first through self-diagnosis because HELLO, you have to start somewhere – I was relieved and thrilled to have answers!  I’m not 3 or 6 or 17 years old.  I’m an adult and I had to figure it out for myself.  Then I had to decide if I wanted a formal diagnosis.  But let’s be honest here – Mr. Seinfeld is pretty damn smart.  He knows a lot of smart people.  Are we really going to hold him to a clinical diagnosis to “claim” him as one of our own?  Do you question his ability or motive at 60 years old to understand the diagnosis he is seeking?  Do you really think this man went public on the evening news without some serious discussions? John Elder Robison is a dear man, respected member of the autism community and was “casually” diagnosed by a physician friend as an adult. He didn’t seek a formal diagnosis right away – he didn’t have to! Only later did he do so in the course of participating in clinical research. So why do we judge one and not another??? Is it because this is a career comedian who made a ton of money?  Is this the disenfranchised autism “community” displaying its jealousy of “high-functioning”? Of fame and fortune?  Why are we not throwing the entire weight and love and support of the autism community towards Mr. Seinfeld’s brave announcement AND TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL WHO SEEKS COMMUNITY AS AN AUTISTIC? And we still wonder why this “community” of autism cannot pull itself together and get anything done. It’s so important that we set the example for ALL individuals who think they may be on the spectrum that WE WILL WELCOME THEM!!!! My sincerest blessings to Mr. Seinfeld for his bravery on this journey to self-discovery. My prayers to all individuals who struggle to be accepted and supported on their journeys, whether children or adults, whether diagnosed or in the process of discovering their autistic roots. You are amazing and you are loved. And there *is* a community waiting for you that will accept you and love you for everything you are. Never give up. ***Friendly reminder, Folks – Please allow time for your comment to appear unless it qualifies as hurtful, hateful, contains inappropriate language, etc. This is a place of acceptance and safety. While I welcome opposing viewpoints, we all deserve respect. Thank you.***


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