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Jerry Seinfeld thinks he’s on the autism
spectrum. In a recent interview with People
Magazine, Seinfeld claims that simple
social interactions are very difficult for him and confesses to being a very
literal person. He can’t always
understand people when they use idioms or expressions. I can hear his TV
character now, “What’s up with idioms and expressions…?” as he’d tear into a
genius comedic riff about not understanding what anyone is saying.
As I read the article I can’t help but
wonder if being a literal person, one who takes everything at face value, is
part of what has made Seinfeld’s observational style of comedy just so good.
Isn’t that what most of his bits are about — being literal? I’m sure Seinfeld
spent a good portion of his life getting comfortable with his social
awkwardness and has had many a fight with relatives or his wife that include
the phrase, “Don’t be so literal.” And yet, being awkward and literal just
might be what makes him funny.
I wonder if teaching my kids to embrace what makes them different is the key to living a happy, healthy and dare I say, normal, life.
I have to be honest that I’ve always dreaded
finding out if my kids have a “something.” Like any parent, I prayed for
healthy, normal children who could pass through life easily and not have to
struggle. But my kids are quirky, though
I guess I am too. As I look back on my
own successes and failures, I can attribute those failings to me not embracing
my quirks and leaning in to what I’m good at without worrying so much about
what I’m not.
As my kids get older, I’m starting to wonder
if there is such a thing as a normal child? Maybe every child is on the spectrum, not the autism spectrum but the
normal spectrum. Maybe every person is some parts normal and some parts quirks,
which all combine to make us who we are in the most interesting ways. I wonder if teaching my kids to embrace what
makes them different is the key to living a happy, healthy and dare I say,
The pain and worry parents feel on behalf of
their children is deep and never-ending. And while I by no means mean to say any child is lucky to get an extreme
diagnosis, I am saying that all of our children’s quirks can make them who they
are in the best ways possible. If Jerry
Seinfeld can make a career out of his social awkwardness and inability to
understand nuances, then my kids can be successful no matter what they
So the next time I want to tell my kid to
stop being so literal, I’m going to stop myself. I’d hate to stand in the way of his future