Friday, February 1, 2013
Autistic People Have No Sense of Humour. Yeah, Right.
When I opened the van door at the toboggan hill to tell my younger son that I had just arranged a playmate with his buddy, he was so excited that he gleefully shouted, "He's coming over to MY house?"
Without a second's pause, my older son replied in perfect deadpan, "No, he's going to George Washington's house." Ba da boom.
As I started the van, I chuckled because it was funny. And then I laughed some more because my older son is autistic and autistic people aren't supposed to be funny, according to the stereotype. I guess nobody told my son that, because he is freakin' hilarious.
Like last week, I was trying to get his attention, but all three of my other children's names came to my lips before his name did. He laughed and said, "You called me all of my sibling's names before you said my name. Are you even my real mother?!"
His specialty is science jokes and he can turn these out in his sleep. Just this morning I commented to him that his back looks so strong from all of the swimming he has been doing. He asked, "So you can still see my spine? Good - so I am still a vertebrate!"
He also has a finely-tuned sense of when something is NOT funny. Like when he was in Kindergarten and he happened to mention at dinner one night that his music teacher's name was Mrs. Paynter. My husband thought this was hilarious. "Get it? She's a music teacher, but her name is Mrs. Paynter. Shouldn't she be an art teacher?" he chuckled.
Our five year old son did not crack a smile. His face was completely serious. He looked straight at his dad and said, "I know it's ironic. But it isn't nice to laugh at someone's name."
It turns out that our son has developed quite a reputation in his class for his puns and witty retorts. His teacher tells us that his classmates find him very funny although his jokes do sometimes go over their heads. I guess jokes about black-holes and anti-matter aren't everyone's cup of tea. He also doesn't always know when to quit, but from what I remember about Grade 4 boys, this is not a unique characteristic.
In truth, I find my son most funny when he isn't trying to be funny. Which isn't to say that I am laughing at him instead of with him, but rather that it is his perspective, his worldview that amuses me. Like a true comedian, he draws our attention to the absurdity of our own reality and helps us to see how arbitrary our concept of "normal" truly is.
Before The Hobbit movie came out last year, he decided that he wanted to read The Lord of the Rings. He asked me what it was about. I thought for a moment and then replied, "Well, I guess it's essentially about the struggle between good and evil."
Without pause, he replied, "Of course it is. That's what every book is about. What I mean is, what is the story about?"
One minute, he is a metaphysical humorist, the next he is asking you to pull his finger. He's autistic. He's brilliant. And he is also a nine year old boy.
Some of the funniest people I follow on Twitter are people who identify themselves as autistic. If you're looking for some intelligent and quirky humour, check out my list of followers - find me on Twitter @vanderlovely