A Laughing Matter

What makes anyone laugh? A good joke has some twist at the end. Something you weren’t expecting. Something to shock you. If everything stayed normal, then we wouldn’t see humor in anything. Something has to be out of the ordinary. Something has to go wrong.

Asperger’s syndrome is like this. If you have it, then you are different. Weird. Awkward. You are the butt of the joke.

“Normal” people don’t become diagnosed with behavioral disorders. Do you take someone to the doctor when they have nothing wrong with them? A parent will notice something funny about their kid and bring him or her in to get checked out. The doctor either has to say the kid is perfectly normal or has a behavioral disorder. No other diagnosis exists for acting funny.

The only way to identify autism is by observing behavior. No blood tests or brain scans. Just an interview and some written exams. The interviewer talks to you trying to discover what is wrong with you. Your faults are brought up. Things you struggle with. Anything that makes you out of the ordinary is discussed.

You can’t look at Asperger’s in a positive light at all times. No one wants to have it. You receive the diagnosis after a negative experience occurs. First, your family worries about you. Next, they look for patterns of irregularity. Finally, they seek a solution to fix the problem resulting in a diagnosis. Does this sound positive to you?

People do not consider Asperger’s a good thing. At the same time, your loved ones don’t want to think you are bad. And so, everyone chooses to view it as being in between good and bad. They see it as a funny thing. Something to smile at. A good joke.

The Perception

The joke is quite hilarious: you are prone to failure. You are expected to do something wrong eventually; talk wrong, act wrong, or think wrong. Why would you be labeled autistic if you did everything right? People who hear you have autism will suspect you of making mistakes on a frequent basis. Any mistakes you make will become a part of their impression of you and will be used to define you from then on. Slow, clumsy, or socially awkward; they’ll think it’s just the way you are.

It’s not expected for someone with autism to simply snap out of it one day. It’s supposed to be part of their genetic makeup. Never to part till the day they die. Can one cease to be autistic? If one changed his behavior and improved to the point where he never struggled to accomplish anything, then would he be rid of Asperger’s? Who can say? However, jokes can cease to be funny over time.

The Situation

Everyone makes mistakes. Asperger’s doesn’t make any one person exceptionally bad at anything. We all could use a little self-improvement. It doesn’t matter if you do things right or wrong. What matters is you do what works.
Other people decide if your behavior is good or bad. This is based on personal preference. You won’t be accused of rambling if people like what you have to say. You won’t be considered an emotional wreck if people are compassionate and understanding. Neither will people feel your thinking is messed up if they happen to agree with you. Your behavior is considered autistic only if it is undesirable.

Whether the joke is clever or vulgar is not as important as how funny it is. You could be a perfect human being or the vilest wretch. All that matters is that you’re amusing. People will forgive your failures if they like you. Asperger’s will be forgiven as long as people get the joke. They’re not allowed to praise it or despise it, but they can laugh at it and call it funny or weird. A person with Asperger’s is seen as neither an equal nor an enemy; just a joke.

The Solution

Take yourself seriously. No one will stop laughing if you go along with the joke. Failure is not your defining feature. No rule exists saying autistic people will have to struggle with everything for the rest of their lives. You can exceed expectations and surpass your own limitations. Invite people to believe in you by first believing in yourself.

Your opinions and feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s. Their value is not diminished by having autism. People have to acknowledge you as they would any other person. You can be as right or wrong as the next man. Any mistake you make does not give people permission to stop taking you seriously. You’re not a joke to be laughed at and then forgotten.

Asperger’s may not be a good thing or a bad thing, but it is something. Having it means you’re different and out of the ordinary. Of course, no one would choose to have it. Then again, who would choose to be ordinary?


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