Jerry Seinfeld sat down for an interview recently with Brian Williams and revealed some surprising things about himself, including his belief that he may be on the autism spectrum.
The 60-year old comedian, who worked the standup circuit for years before finding huge success with his pal Larry David on Seinfeld, says he sees things in himself that line up with the disorder, but that it just means he thinks in a different way.
"You know, never paying attention to the right things. Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I'm very literal. When people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don't know what they're saying. But I don't see it as dysfunctional. I just think of it as an alternate mindset," he said.
While some hope that the successful comedian's announcement will inspire and encourage others who fall on the spectrum of autistic disorders to follow their own paths in life, others worry that celebrity claims like Seinfeld's will only do harm.
"Seinfeld said he hopes his announcement will help diminish the stigma of autism, an unequivocally laudable intention. Retroactively self-diagnosed adults or high-functioning autistics like Temple Grandin indeed may be living proof that one can overcome huge obstacles and live with and even flourish despite autism. Every day, dead people, too — Mozart, Newton, Einstein — are also retroactively diagnosed with autism. What I fear is that these public faces of autism will allow society, and more important, policymakers, mentally off the hook. You can have autism and get a Ph.D.! It helps you write jokes! Your charming quirks and aggravating behaviors are now explainable," wrote Marie Myung-Ok Lee for Salon.com.
Seinfeld has not commented on the interview or on the backlash.
Jerry Seinfeld Praised By Autism Community for Revealing He May Be on the Spectrum http://t.co/iPkttJgRI6
— Raymond Philippe (@raymondphil2) November 10, 2014
Yeah, cause successful Autistic adults don't exist RT @Salon: Jerry Seinfeld's not helping:Why celebrity autism claims distract from reality
— citizen dickbag (@kaytaa) November 10, 2014
— WalkingOnHisToes (@WalkingOnToes) November 10, 2014
— Autism Speaks (@autismspeaks) November 10, 2014