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Can Your Loved One with Autism Make (and/or Take) a Joke?

By July 14, 2006

I've heard and read too often that people with autism spectrum disorders just don't get humor. Our son not only gets humor (especially pratfalls) -- he also knows when we're kidding and when we're serious. It took some practice, some serious silliness, and a whole lot of watching the Garfield movie...and to be fair, he still has a tough time grasping puns and other more subtle jokes. But then again, so do most 9 year olds.

So where the heck do the pundits get the idea that autistic people lack humor? Do they just assume that's the case, or do they actually know a lot of humorless folks on the autism spectrum?

Here's a challenge for those pundits. Let's put together a list of terrific jokes made by autistic folks -- and let the pundits eat their words. I'd go first -- but I'm not sure that fart jokes translate on the web!

July 15, 2006 at 7:08 pm
(1) Ronnie says:

You are so right!! My autistic grandson has a wonderful sense of humor! He loves to tease me and we have several little games that make both of us giggle. I, too, have heard how autistics are not suppose to have a sense of humor. Even his teacher once commented on how he had such a great humor…supposedly going against the norm. The autistic kids I’ve met through my grandson all seem to have healthy funny bones! I’m all for getting rid of this myth! Thanks!

July 17, 2006 at 3:19 pm
(2) Jawn says:

I have a 6 year old autistic son (PDD), who as many autistic kids like to parrot, mimick, etc. Of course that often takes the form of some very interesting impersonations.

He knows very well that his impersonation of Oscar shaking the maracas (as seen on a sesame street website flash activity page.)

Knowing this, he performs his act at any given opportunity — TSS meetings, IEP meetings, school and anywhere there’s a captive audience.

July 24, 2006 at 1:54 am
(3) Rich Shull says:

Well , we are not out to pasture just yet?
Autism’s (mostly) Older living anthropology that indeed missed the post Rain Man era has united on the web and we have discovered many of us absently have figured out enough traditional thoughts and very complicated Picture thoughts to actually cope. We also learned by route the 99 conversations people have and how to make a joke, usually connecting opposites and if you time your words just right you hit the funny bone of many people. Sometimes overload and the natural mistiming or the simple lateness of an autism thought is humor all of its own.

Shockingly we are social ,hold traditional jobs and do a pretty normal life. Lots of us do so well as we have figured out Picture in Picture thought an advanced thought process several steps beyond what Temple wrote about that allows us to actually keep eye contact and still use our picture thought to think with.

While autism is looking for answers and making mountains out of the simple stuff their results seem as useful as tits on a bore hog.

Rich Shull, Author Autism Pre Rain Man Autism – Inventor of the Turing Motor

December 18, 2007 at 2:35 pm
(4) John Burns says:


Iím the father of an autistic girl and Iím a stand up comedian and a performance poet based in the UK.

Iíve just produced a podcast raising awareness about autism. Itís on my comedy site but donít let that put you off.

Give us a listen.




May 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm
(5) Grandma from California says:

My almost 3 year-old grandson is the midst of being diagnosed w/some form of autism or PDD, but he’s the funniest little person I know. He likes me to draw things for him, and his latest requests are things like “Draw eeek!” and then he laughs and laughs, or “Draw not a basketball.” WHen he sees home stumped I am, he has a devilish look in his eye. Sometimes I think that kids who are singled out are just too smart maybe?

January 25, 2011 at 7:46 am
(6) John Burns says:

Lots of people have been listening to my Autism special edition. We’ve done so many shows it can be hard to find on the site. If you follow this link it will take you right to the autism special edition.

To quote John Lennon, “Take this brother, may it serve you well.”


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