I occasionally follow the discussion on Wrong Planet, a site that bills itself as “the online resource and community for Autism and Asperger’s.” (If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend checking it out … lots to learn, whether you share all the viewpoints or not. The site is run by Alex Plank, who has Asperger’s; several large U.S. universities have included Wrong Planet in their curricula for special education. Enough said.)
I recently stumbled on a post from someone on the spectrum who had been treated cruelly by kids making autism jokes. Yes, it made me sick. But I was intrigued by a comment elicited by the post. The commenter asked, “Could you find a way to bend them into NT jokes? “NT,” as you probably know, refers to “neurotypicals” – a term that raises the question, “What IS a neurotypical, anyway?” Is there someone out there who has a “typical” brain? (Please, if you are one of these people, contact me ASAP!) OK, seriously though, the term is used to distinguish between those who have no classifiable brain abnormalities from those who do – and as such, it has its place.
So in response to “Unreal3x,” the commenter who proposed making jokes about NT’s (a category I suppose I belong to, if loosely), I say, “Yes, the joke’s on us, my neurotypical friends.” To demonstrate, I tried coming up with a few NT jokes of my own:
How many neurotypicals does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Just one; but he’ll only be able to see the light bulb as a utilitarian tool to aide his eyesight so he can continue to do his routine chores. Ho hum. (Much more “iIlluminating”: Get several lightbulbs and line them up end-to-end, creating an artistic pattern on the floor!)
Why did the neurotypical cross the road?
Answer: To get to the other side. (NT’s are so damn practical it’s sickening.)
Why did the neurotypical throw the clock out the window?
Answer: Because she was so bored with her job she couldn’t bear to get out of bed another day. (Only someone with autism would have the insight to throw a clock out the window in order to see time fly.)
Why did God create the neurotpyical?
Answer: Even God needs a laugh now and then.
Making jokes about people with disabilities is unconscionable – and only reveals how foolish we are to think we’re without our own disabilities. In truth, if we could all see ourselves for what we really are, jokes that hurt others would cease to exist. Thank you, Unreal3x, wherever you are, for reminding me that we do need to laugh – not at others, but at ourselves.