November 10, 2014

Optimized-Depositphotos_15189509_originalJerry Seinfeld –  We recently brought you the story of Jerry Seinfeld telling NBC’s Nightly News host, Brian Williams, that he thinks he is on the autism} spectrum. The story can be read here.

Following Mr. Seinfled’s revelations, the floodgates have opened up on social media, with an outpouring of emotions from those who believe that his outspoken views on his self diagnosis will help the autism community and end the stigma of autism, as well as those who believe that his ‘self diagnosis’ is  not helpful to the autism community and those who are on the autism spectrum.

“I think it’s important to have respected figures identify in a positive way with autism.  When someone who is admired by many says, “I feel I’m a bit autistic,” I take that to mean he feels solidarity with our group (Our group being those of us on the autism spectrum and our families and loved ones.)”

He goes on to add that when people say that autism made them the success that they are today, hen this is a step towards recognizing that  “autism confers both gift and disability on us..” Showing the strengths of autism in this writer’s opinion can only be a good thing.

The article ends by stating:

“Please join me to welcome him, and see where it leads.  If we don’t like what he has to say, we can tune him out and go about our lives.  Remember that we must first extend compassion and acceptance to others if we are to ask and expect it for ourselves.”

Autism Daddy wrote a piece on his blog, entitled, Seinfeld:”I’m Autistic” Yada yada , you’re not helping…, and although he states that he is a huge Seinfeld fan, he is not happy about Mr. Seinfeld’s self diagnosis because of the divide it creates between the low functioning and high functioning autistic community.

With  reference to Mr. Seinfeld’s comment of “I just think of it as an alternate mindset,” Autism Daddy states that this opens up the discussion once more on “whether autism is a disorder or just a different way of thinking.”

“To me it just diminishes the type of autism that my son has… and the struggles that my son has due to his autism.  Seinfeld saying that makes me feel even less connected to those on the mildest end of the spectrum.”

He believes that the comments made by Mr. Seinfeld are not helpful.

“Everyone has a right to share their own story and not be responsible for the entire autism community.” (Mind of Her Own)

Rachel Kenyon in her blog post Dear Autism “Community”: Do You HEAR Yourselves? in a response to the angry and negative comments made on Autism Daddy’s Facebook page regarding his blog post, asks why there is so much anger and fighting among the autism community surrounding Mr. Seinfeld.

Comments on the Facebook page include:

 “As the mother of a very high functioning Aspie, I was very offended by Jerry Seinfeld’s self diagnosis.” and

“…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.”

This writer says that parents and caregivers of autistic individuals often quote that there is no such thing as one autism, but that;

” they quickly rescind that philosophy when met with a high-functioning celebrity with autism – then the adage simply doesn’t apply.”

She ends by offering her blessings to Mr. Seinfeld “for his bravery on this journey to self-discovery.”

The Autism with a side of fries blog post Is he or isn’t he?, offers the view that we just don’t know if he is on the autistic spectrum, as we do not know the full story, only what the media have reported. This writer then answers those individuals who claim that if he is autistic, then he is too high functioing.

“High functioning” comes with its own set of problems. They aren’t the ones we know in this house but it doesn’t make them any less valid.  I’m not about to tell him “Hey Jerry! You’re not the right kind of autism.”  Aren’t we kind of forgetting its a spectrum here? So yeah, if he is, he’s still got legit problems.”

The post also addresses those who claim that Mr. Seinfeld is saying he is autistic just  to be trendy, to which it states:

“Holy s**t. I had no idea Autism was en vogue this season. Dudes, until a Kardashian claims it, I don’t think we have to worry to much about this.  When that happens, I will join you in your outrage.”

This is obviously a discussion that will continue for a long time, with varying viewpoints and opinions. We will be sure to keep you posted on any further developments.

We welcome your comments below.


About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

  • I am hideously reminded of the feminist spectrum battles which has divided women over the decades… I.e
    more feminist? Whose the real lesbian? If you work at home with the kids…you are certainly NOT feminist. Yadda Yadda??!! I dare you to change the nouns to “Autistic”. This level of separation and ignorance is what oppresses groups from within. Autism is spectral….none of us asked to be the way we are…we just are, and We are all different and unique. Autism does NOT define us, but helps shape us. The beauty of Spectrums is that they are spectrums. Rainbows are not just Red and would only be a ribbon if they were. Robinson said in the article…”think it’s important to have respected figures identify in a positive way with autism. When someone who is admired by many says, “I feel I’m a bit autistic,” I take that to mean he feels solidarity with our group (Our group being those of us on the autism spectrum and our families and loved ones.)”. With that said… Us who are ‘higher functioning’ or defined Aspergers , may not appear to be like our ‘lesser functioning’ brothers and sisters…however, our role is quite important. We exist between the non-spectrum and spectrum and those who deny us are only cutting off the “warriors” sent to help. By picking and choosing who is felt to best represent autism makes our community appear elitist (and a bit like the 90s GLBT media flood gates). We have enough social’s time to work together as the family we are and stop showing the world what they want and believe – dysfunction, disorganization and that R-word. Any parent ashamed…is a parent to be blamed!! Also, who says we want Kim? We are autistic…not brain damaged.

  • Everyone wants what is best for their child, regardless where they are on the spectrum. Challenges are diverse and different for each child. What unifies us is the fact that we can relate to each other surrounding the characteristics that that are shared to all on the spectrum. As a community we must stop comparing and “competing” and just be supportive.

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