Jerry Seinfeld said he related to people with autism. He feels socially awkward and loses focus. He wonders if he may fall on a ‘drawn out’ spectrum of the condition in some way.
His comments seemed innocent enough to me, since he wasn’t declaring himself ‘the face of autism’. But critics of his comment are in an uproar. They don’t want a successful, normal seeming comedian to ‘self diagnose in public’.
People, people, people: the man was expressing a personal sense of feeling other than normal. He was sharing a suspicion that his social awkwardness may be akin to autism. He was associating himself with a condition no one would volunteer to have. He was not volunteering to be the poster child of autism.
I’m not an expert. But I have a niece who has been diagnosed and exhibits all the indicators of Asperger’s syndrome. Also, I have paid close attention to all with whom I have come into contact who are affected. And I feel strongly that members of the autism community and bi-polar community need to accept that some of us who are only mildly afflicted still experience difficulties in life and should be extended understanding, not criticism.
My novice observations of people with autism match the medical research which has concluded there is a ‘spectrum’ of symptoms. That’s why the term ‘high-functioning’ is used to differentiate autism sufferers who are very capable in many regards from those who are completely dependent on others.
In the following article, you will see that Seinfeld garnered undue criticism, AND commendation.
h/t: Washington Post
When Kim Stagliano saw an “NBC Nightly News” clip of Jerry Seinfeld saying he’s on the autism spectrum, the first thing she did was get angry.
The next thing she did was get on Twitter.
THIS is autism – my 3 girls @JerrySeinfeld 1 does not speak,. 1 in single words, 1 paralyzed by anxiety. pic.twitter.com/hdCb2Y1oLH
— Kim Rossi Stagliano (@KimStagliano) November 7, 2014
Kim Rossi Stagliano’s impulsive rant on Twitter was met with criticisms, probably to her surprise.
@KimStagliano @AutismRealityNB @JerrySeinfeld Do you really mean to blame Seinfeld for not being more autistic?
— Autitecture (@Autitecture) November 14, 2014
@AutismRealityNB @KimStagliano @JerrySeinfeld He didn’t truly claim it. Some take his remark as supportive towards people on the spectrum — Autitecture (@Autitecture) November 14, 2014
@AutismRealityNB @AutismJournal @Autitecture @KimStagliano @JerrySeinfeld Isn’t this the whole point – that it is a spectrum?
— Joel Schwartz (@JoelSchwartz999) November 17, 2014
Back to article from Washington Post:
Theresa Cianciolo, a behaviorist with the state of Connecticut who specializes in working with twins, triplets and siblings with autism, said the comedian should have avoided a public self-diagnosis. Instead, Cianciolo said, she would have preferred if he had spoken to a mental health professional before associating himself with the autistic spectrum. While admitting that she’s never been in a room with Seinfeld and that some high-functioning sufferers are able to train themselves to appear at ease in social settings, Cianciolo said that while watching the NBC interview, she was struck by elements of Seinfeld’s demeanor that seemed at odds with severe autism symptoms.
He never said he is afflicted with ‘severe autism’. In fact, he was very careful with his wording. Watch.
All the criticism of Seinfeld has resulted in his retracting his innocent comment altogether. This despite the fact that one psychologist has called him courageous for admitting his social awkwardness and failure to pick up on social cues.