but not a super composed post, just a reply to a comment. Normally I'd just respond in the comment thread obviously, but since I've had poor access to the Internet I have spent a lot of time thinking about the comment and have a lot to say.
Sarah Abraham-son is a person who writes a blog called Aspies on TV where she lists TV and movie characters who she thinks have "Asperger's." Several months ago I made a comment here expressing why I didn't agree with the blog, and she recently came across the comment and left her own comment on one of my recent posts. This is Sarah's comment:
I just read this, I'm not sure how we disagree, based on your comment on my blog. Of course people with ASDs commonly have EF issues and mood issues, but these are not core features and not part of the diagnostic features, but often more disabling than some core features. Many of the fictional characters I described do have these features, eg. David Brent in The UK Office (EF issues help him be bad at his job, mood issues develop later when he's fired). This sort of issue though is not very funny, and the aim of fiction is firstly to entertain in some way, so not standard in comedy characters with ASDs.
Hi Sarah. Like many Autistic people and allies, I don’t consider the stuff you consider to be core features of autism to be core features of autism. I’d recommend reading my “social skills don’t exist” series to better understand my perspective on social skills being socially constructed.
As for executive function and mood not being part of the diagnostic critera for autism spectrum disabilities, that’s neither here nor there as the DSM kind of blows in this department. Also, the social skills thing is really neither here nor there either, as a lot of of the characters you claim are “Aspies” don’t even have the kind of social problems that verbal people with autism usually have, but are insensitive or odd in any number of ways. I think fictional diagnostics is fun and everything, but to pick out any character who doesn’t fit in socially or acts rude, without taking the time to think about the specific reasons why some verbal Autistic people don’t fit in or are perceived as rude, is to thoughtlessly perpetuate the very popular and inaccurate belief that all types of insensitivity and social awkwardness equal “Asperger’s.”
Not really clear what you mean with the entertainment value thing--I can think of many humorous portrayals of people with mood disorders and other psychiatric disabilities (although I don’t agree with a lot of them obviously), and cognitive disabilities including intellectual disabilities and Alzheimer’s. Just on a basic level, I tried to serve myself corn in a water glass the other day and all my campers thought it was really funny. Probably much more funny than if I said, “Wow, you have ugly hair” or whatever I’d be saying if I was an autism pop culture character.
Furthermore...come on. Funniness is not an excuse for portraying minority groups inaccurately or disrespectfully--not that portraying a minority group was even what most of these TV shows and movies were trying to do.