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Big Little Lies Flippant Use of Asperger's Hurts a Young Woman WITH Asperger’s

Big little liesNote: Thank you the author, who is Mom to a teen daughter with autism. I know this family. I know this young woman. Our kids played together many years ago during this autism journey. When I read about her daughter's pain, as a result of some shitty, probably 20 something writer's mistake, I asked her to share the story here. Autism and Asperger's are not sitcom fodder,  nor are the diagnostic labels to be used to disparage. A is not the new R word, people. The irony to me is that Big Little Lies airs on HBO, now home to Sesame Street which touted Julia, a female muppet with autism. This post is anon to protect the young woman's privacy. Thank you for understanding. Kim

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My 19-year old daughter has Asperger’s. She is smart, and funny, and talented, and pure hearted. Everyone who meets her comments on her sweetness. She has some sass too. 

Life has not been easy for her. When she was little, sensory issues were debilitating, and she had frequent meltdowns. She suffers from anxiety and has difficulty inserting herself into a group conversation. She never quite feels welcome socially and lives in fear of saying the wrong thing, and of being rejected, so she mostly stays quiet around people she doesn’t know well. 

She did have two good friends in high school and it was a relief to see her enjoying life and doing things with them, while it lasted. After graduation, her friends went off to college, but she was not ready to launch. She successfully completed her first two semesters at the local community college but it has been a lonely year for her. 

To help her out of her funk, last week she took a trip to visit relatives in another state. It was her first time flying solo, navigating the airports on her own. She was nervous, and excited, but she did great. While away she visited a couple of colleges, and came home proud of herself with big dreams fresh in her mind. Maybe, one day. 

We were waiting for her to get back so we could watch Big Little Lies. We were on season 2 episode 2. We’d been watching the show as a family and having good discussions about it between episodes. Like any good show that hooks you, the characters start to feel really familiar. We were rooting for them. 

About ten minutes into the episode, we were stunned by the dialogue between the characters Bonnie and Jane. They were discussing a potential love interest for Jane (while stretching at a yoga studio). 

Jane: “He’s really smart. I don’t think there’s much faking it to him. I think it’s what you see is what you get. He’s weird though, like maybe Aspergery or something….”

Bonnie does a silent snicker, almost an eye roll, registering this. 

Jane: “I don’t know, there’s just something, I’ve never met anyone like him.”



Bonnie: “They fake that sometimes.” 

Jane: “What, having Asperger’s?” 

Bonnie: “Yeah, so they can get away with saying dumb shit.”  

I hit pause on the remote and looked at my daughter. 

Holding back tears, she said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. You don’t have to stop.” In her sweetness, she didn’t want to be a bother to us. She didn’t want us to have to stop enjoying the show. 

Moving in closer to her on the couch, I said, “It’s not okay. Are you alright?” 

She burst out crying, and I wrapped my arms around her. Her brother and father looked on helplessly. 

“Why can’t I be part of watching pop culture, without being insulted?” she cried. 

I hugged her tighter still. My blood boiling. 

“I’m so sorry Sweetie. Whoever wrote that, whoever directed it? They are very ignorant. They don’t know anything about Asperger’s, and they don’t know you.” 

She cried, “It’s just such a reminder of how everyone thinks I’m weird, and everyone thinks I’m dumb. I don’t fit in, anywhere.” 

Just like that, after all the confidence her recent adventure gave her, she felt defeated. 

Side note: Did you know the suicide rate for people on the spectrum is 10x higher than the general population?

It’s the second time this has happened to her. When she was a tween, she was obsessed with the show Glee. She LIVED for the show. Then, they introduced a character who was super rude and unlikable, and every time she stepped on someone’s toes, she said, “Sorry,…Asperger’s.” Either she was faking having Asperger’s to get away with being an asshole, or perhaps she just was an asshole and it was because she had Asperger’s. It wasn’t made clear. 

It broke my daughter’s pre-teen heart.  

What is it with mainstream entertainment taking pot shots at people with this disability? 

Everyone from the producers on down to technicians had a part in allowing this flippant scene to happen. Did no one speak up? With autism so common these days, surely someone on the production team has someone they know on the spectrum? Do they not care? Why is it okay to throw people who already struggle socially under the bus? Do they not understand that real people with Asperger’s will be watching the show? Do they think they are talking about a population that won’t “get it?”Don’t they realize people with autism, even non-verbal ones understand everything that is said about them? 

This piece is anonymous, because at 19, my daughter fears becoming “the poster child for social awkwardness.” 

And because it is anonymous, I give myself permission to say, from the heart, 

You fucked up, big time, Big Little Lies.

 

 

Comments

Grace Green

Actually, I think it's something to do with the rotation of the earth!

Grace Green

Annie,
I'm interested to know why you think "right now no-one's hungry....for bigger fish", or news about the cause.
Hans,
You have to remember that most of the people here, including the Managing Editor, wake up at least 5 hours after us. They're not lazy, it's something to do with the rotation of the earth around the sun.
Bill,
I can't possibly agree that anyone fakes autism or Aspergers. Ask Dustin Hoffman how easy that would be! In a real life situation rather than a film you would soon get found out even if you managed it at all.

annie

Zoe Kravitz is famously unvaccinated. I’m going to tell her mom (Lisa Bonet) on her! I sure hope Aquarious doesn’t strike me down.

I have no idea what Shayleen’s vaccinations status is, but know that Zoe gets to make fun of you because she wasn’t vaccinated as an infant. Sham on you Zoe!

michael

I don't watch these shows, but to the young 19 year old young lady, you have a harder row to hoe, but you will ultimately be victorious and will have enough true friends to see you are a genuine real person possessing compassion that so many others lack. You are a gift. Unique rare and needed on this crazy planet.

annie

Mr Litten,
There are always bigger fish to fry, right now no one’s hungry. Thank you SO much for all you do and all the info you dissentinate. You have kept me going throughout the years!!! Thank You!!!!

annie

Dear Brillant, Beautiful, Awesome,Amazing, Young Lady, (or BBAAYL as the kids say),

Kate C is exactly right! Cory is the coolest character on the show! Sharyleene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz only wish that someone with your wisdom, kindness, and beauty would be their friend!

Carolyn California

The one that got me was Polar Express. I thought that the “know-it-all” character was possibly aspie. They showed love and kindness to everyone else but no one in that Christmas movie showed much affection to that boy. Charity is when you are kind to someone who is harder to understand and love. We need kindness not cruelty. I recommend all tweet this story to #biglittlelies and some of the stars. Perhaps they will surprise us. The Glee character faded out actually. And my son decided Brittany -who seems unsmart but is brilliant— was autistic and he loves her (we just started binge watching it). But sad for this girl who felt hurt and attacked. It’s like getting sucker punched. And she did not deserve it.

Bill

I am NOT defending some Hollywood TV garbage, or making excuses, but yes, sometimes some people DO fake "autism", or "Aspbergers" for various reasons....
Or else, even, some people who might actually BE "on the spectrum", still use and abuse that "diagnosis" for various personal reasons and advantage. Those realities may be difficult for the rest of us to wrap our heads around, but they are still "real". It's a very messed up world, people....
But to all my friends at AoA, :
KEEP UP the GOOD WORK!

mark shane kent

people never see the every day effects of autism or m.e .I HAVE BOTH .there views/judgements are very Snotty Nosed .i take part in a lot lot research
my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com
twitter,supersnopper.
Linkedin,AutismDad

Hans Litten

Rumour out there that Bill Gates went to Epsteins Mansion.
A huge dump of allegations apparently.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-17/its-going-be-staggering-epstein-associates-prepare-worst-massive-document-dump

According to one source, Epstein had a steady stream of who's who's flowing into his Manhattan mansion, including Bill Gates, Larry Summers, and Steve Bannon.

Kate C.

Cory is the only man in the show who is decent. He's kind, likes kids, is patient and a good listener. If he is an example of a person with Asperger's, he's a good one.
The comments were cruel, but he's proving them wrong!

Benedetta

Yeah, been there and had that done to my son too.
We had moved two states away from his eight grade friends, started high school all alone, put in total special ed, was having escalating clonic seizures, that finally went into grand mals.

But he was really excited about the movie "Agent Cody Banks". He was smitten by Hilary Duff and still has a posture of her hugging a guitar, hanging in his room. All he had to take him and go with him was his Mother.


Her lines in that movie was: "Are you in special ed?" Because Cody couldn't talk to girls with out becoming really clumsy.

In the darkness of the theater I heard he say; "Ouch!"

That is the way it goes. Ups and downs like every one else, except maybe the downs are really, really down and it makes our anxious children, more unsure of themselves and thus sets them up for just not trying.

The ups though are great aren't they? Yeah, we are so much more aware of the blessings than most others take for granite. The real ups like my son's friends from middle and grade school, never forget him; and we made long trips back down so he could spend a few days with them. He got to go, like a real teenager, all alone with them to an amusement Park, and they brought their girl friends, plus an extra for him. Only date he ever had. Those are the days to dwell on.
The days of flying alone, of succeeding in a community college (mine did too). Life has it ups and downs, even for the very gifted, except maybe we are so much more thankful for the ups than the average, or even gifted person and just don't take them for granite. .

Beleaguered Autism Mom

Thank you for this post. I hope it finds its way to the show's makers. I stumbled on this recently, I have only seen one and a half episodes. https://www.aetv.com/shows/the-employables

Morag

No need for ignorance! don't worry about it ,that type of insidious, pervasive, prejudice / perception pollution ? hangs aboot in the atmosphere as a very specific smell of "Who flung dung?"
Could do with a good blast of fresh air and sunlight to clear the air!

Bryan Adams.Rod Stewart, Sting -All For Love [Official Youtube]

Managing Editor

Hello, Hans. Thank you for suggesting content for us. AofA was sleeping overnight. Danke.
Kim

Hans Litten

Is there a little bit of news out of Germany today ?
That should be the headline on AoA ? No ?

Mandatory measles vaccine law in Germany.

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