Blog #108~ Seinfeld Thinks He Has Autism
So Jerry Seinfeld thinks he might be on the autism spectrum. This story aired last week:
In his sit-down with Brian Williams, Seinfeld said, “I think in a very drawn-out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum.” The comedian added, “You’re never paying attention to the right things. Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal. When people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying,” Seinfeld said. “I don’t see it as dysfunctional, I just think of it as an alternate mindset.”
Since this interview aired there has been an outpouring of criticism from the autism community. Many parents who are in the trenches battling autism are up in arms, and with good reason. They are dealing with their child having debilitating seizures, sleep deprivation, health issues and violent meltdowns. They face the reality that their child will never talk, drive, date, get a job, live on their own or get married. It diminishes what families go through and they find it insulting to their children’s diagnosis. Countless families are fighting to get services and funding for to take care of their child. Amongst all this, they are cleaning up poop smear accidents.
Here is a statement from Wendy Fournier, President of the National Autism Association:
“What frightens me with these kinds of statements and stories is that I don’t want people to think that autism isn’t a serious diagnosis, or that it’s not a struggle for individuals and their families. What many people don’t understand is that on that lower-functioning end of the spectrum, we have individuals who are suffering and whose lives are at risk.” “Autism is not a designer diagnosis,” Fournier added.
Let me throw in my two cents here. My son, Nick is 20 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism. His speech is very limited; he will never drive a car, date or get married and live on his own. He requires supervision 24/7. Oh and yes, I’ve cleaned up my fair share of $h*t storm accidents.
The only thing that Nick and Jerry Seinfeld have in common is that they are both incredibly funny guys.
I am a huge Seinfeld fan, and I’m not going to boycott his shows because he made these comments without a formal diagnosis. He has the right to how he feels and share his journey of self-discovery. But, I disagree with Seinfeld saying, “I don’t see it as dysfunctional, I just think of it as an alternate mindset.” He is suggesting that it’s just a different way of thinking, rather than a disorder. Well, autism is a disorder!
I fear that society and government policymakers will disregard the seriousness of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The media is so quick to shine a light on the positive stories of autism, especially when a celebrity is involved. That’s great, I’m all for any media attention to raise awareness. I hope Jerry continues to use his celebrity status to help advocate for more funding and services towards autism. But society needs to see the other side of the spectrum and what families deal with on the front lines of the combat zone. Maybe next week, I’ll write about one of those bloody battles I’ve had with Nick. That’s what is in my noggin this week.