Autism - the funny side

Autism - the funny side
The title chosen because it reminds me of the ‘Far Side’ comics by Gary Larson whose humour these days is deemed a bit controversial & well, so is the way we laugh over my nonverbal son Henry’s autism sometimes.

Anyone remember The Far Side comics? Hmmm, to you younger readers who may not, all I can say is…age comes to us all! Actually, I just spotted a 2022 wall calendar! Hurrah, he’s still around, & still so hilarious/controversial/non PC but, I know that is never his intention, we should all learn to chill out & laugh lots more.
Autistic people bring so much, diversity, joy, intelligence, geekiness & downright hilarity into our ‘normal’ world. To have the privilege of being loved by an autistic person is to experience a love like no other. They are the very essence of pure & let’s not forget have some wicked senses of humour & profound straight laced logic too, it’s flipping brilliant.

My son's siblings have helped me so much in seeing the funny side & reining in the deep concern. Siblings of autistic children can make the most wonderful mentors too & to my mind are the truest form of acceptance. Saying that though, if all young children were educated about autism in school from reception age they too would be exactly the same ie totally accepting (hey Govt…food for thought).



It might not be all autism parents, possibly only those whose children are more severe like mine but, perhaps not? There always seems to be a defining moment or experience (in my case, a few) that trigger the most deeply distressing signals/realisations to parents of autistic children. One such occasion for me being an icy cold February school day & discovering Henry licking the lamppost outside our house whilst all the other children were coming out of their houses to walk to school!

First emotional reactions were along the lines of…OMG, he is so not normal; he is really, really bad (mentally); he is so weird; society is never going to accept him; how will we manage to raise him; it’s so embarrassing; it’s shocking; how will he ever live without us to protect him; we’ll be judged forever; people will hate him; this is MY child; help…

And then his siblings crack up laughing, not at him but, for him, because of him, & for the joy of him & the new windows he opens about his world (often shining a light on how utterly ridiculous or own social world is). The other children see his siblings joy & laugh too & call Henry cute & funny, & say that licking lampposts sure looks like a crazy but, very cool thing to do. In Henry’s ultra literal mind I later realise, the lamppost is well, a giant ice lolly obviously, & he’s not really wrong either. Ice after all is edible & we all lick ice on sticks so it’s perfectly logical.



You realise you too would far rather laugh than cry, he is fascinating, wonderful, crazy, refreshing, hilarious, & exactly who he is meant to be. You realise how you need to be & that every time this happens there is a choice to make on how you react & think & feel. Do you want to become distressed & mortified & feel shame & judgement or do you want to accept, laugh, feel enlightened & enjoy how uniquely different he is.

A few other brilliant, hilarious & often super embarrassing moments have been:
  • waiting for his chips & fizzy drink to arrive in a restaurant & Henry hopping on over to the table next to us to help himself to that persons chips & fizzy drink that had already arrived!
  • Henry sitting on my lap listening to that classic blabber mouth in every Mums group non stop talking & him suddenly piping up “stop your mouth” (his longest sentence to date, that day!)
  • FaceTime with his grandparents in SA, Henry says “you seriously don’t remember me?” Echolalia (copying/repeating lines/words he’s heard) from ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ film, in the exact Dave the Octopus accent.
  • If you write the word 'blue' in a green pen, the word is not 'blue', it's 'green'!
  • If something is broken or he does not want to do it or eat it = "it's a baby"; "stuck in the mud"; "it's scratched, oh dear"; "put it in the dishwasher"
  • If Henry does not want to eat something or wear an item of clothing he pours water on it ..."oh dear, it's wet". Very effective this one, & so clever. 
Echolalia:
  • Going for a walk in the sheep fields “oh look, the grass needs cutting”  - Mr Men book, Mr Busy.
  • Fast Track passport control (where everyone gives you dirty looks unless you’re in plaster AND in a wheelchair). I explain to the officer that Henry will not make eye contact re his passport picture check & will not speak, at which point, Henry props himself up on the counter, looks the officer straight in the eye & says clear as day “it’s a perrrfect day to be a cat”. I thought his siblings were going to collapse from laughing so hard. Officer was dubious to say the least.
  • When Henry is looking for me in the house he usually just makes noises that I have learned to interpret, he doesn’t come looking for me because that would mean an interaction. Occasionally he will say “Su-san” (my name is Trish) or “Hello..?” in Susan’s mothers exact accent & intonation from Monsters vs Aliens film.

Henry-isms:

  • Photos of the sunlit rippling sea = "jelly"
  • A no entry sign = "London" (underground sign)
  • Broccoli = "trees" (therefore not to be eaten)
  • An empty Thornton’s chocolate tray = "puzzle"
  • Sometimes when he goes to bed Henry says “Goodnight, sweet dreams" & proceeds to do perfect fake snoring. Just like a cartoon he watches on KidsYoutube.
  • Can walk around the house saying “Where’s my bum?” - an animated animal song on KidsYoutube.


Finally, to end, a quote from the wonderful Chris Bonnello of @autisticnotweird.
24 things to love about autistic people - Autistic Not Weird Advent Calendar, Day 8:
"Our unbridled geekiness. Seriously. Having a deep appreciation for amazing geeky things is a real strength, and it makes our world so much more beautiful"


1 comment

  • Wendy

    Hi Trish
    Great!!!
    Totally agree, autism can be exactly this, genuine in every way. This is what brings us joy and understanding.
    Couldn’t stop laughing and so relatable.
    Wendy from Greece.

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