Tag Archives: Autism humour

Autism: Uncontrollable Laughter

We were sitting at a friend’s house for Life Group (Bible study) and were going around talking about how our week had been. Typically I really struggle with this – partly because I don’t speak well in groups to begin with, but also because I have been taught not to think of what I am going to say while listening to someone else talk.

That is a really hard rule for me. It isn’t because I am a bad listener. If I knew I wouldn’t have to say anything for a while after, or if silence were acceptable between speakers to give me time to think, I would be able to listen quite well, but… as long as I know my turn is coming and I will be expected to speak, too, I go into panic and my mind shuts down.

When it comes time for me to talk, my mind is blank, and I pretty much can’t remember anything that happened in the week, or think of anything to say.

“How was your week?” someone asks me.

“I don’t remember,” I respond – and they all laugh. But in that moment, that is the truth. It isn’t that I am generally unable to remember what happened in a week, but in that situation, I really can’t think at all.

That night, however, was a good night for me. I was functioning pretty well, and answered several questions. I talked a LOT about my dogs. We had just been given “Grace” six days before, so I had lots to say.


We were talking about the importance of community, and how that is hard for some of us. My husband had mentioned that when he is home, he is tired, and just wants to read or go on the computer. I said that if I wasn’t pushed to go out and visit (Life Group, Church, etc.) that I would spend just about all of my time with my dogs – because I like dogs more than people.

They all laughed at me. I went on to say that I know I am not supposed to say things like that, but it is true. Dogs are easier than people. Thankfully they know me. They have known me for a long time. While still laughing, they told me that they have known this about me for a long time, and it is okay (they love me anyway.) It is nice to be accepted.

The thing that really defined the evening for me though was when my husband was talking about one of his brothers who had been in the hospital for a while. He couldn’t think of the word, and came up with that his brother had been ‘ejected’ from the hospital.

Well… that was it for me for the rest of the night!

I am a very visual person, and suddenly I have this visual in my mind of people being flung off the top of the hospital. Cannons, sling-shots, catapults… it didn’t matter how it was done, all these poor people were now flying through the air as I tried vainly to get parachutes on them all before they started coming down.

It has been a long time since I laughed so hard in public – not just because my sense of humour is different from other people’s, but also because I feel very self conscious about laughing like that in public. I worry about how ridiculous I look – and I did in that moment, too, but I just couldn’t stop.

Everyone else went on to talk about other (serious) things, and there I was with tears running down my face because I was laughing so hard. All those poor, poor people flying through the air. Thankfully I never saw any of them come back down.

“And that is how we keep healthcare in Canada free,” I said.


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Autism: Morbid Humour

Most of the time I guess I would agree that I don’t have the best sense of humour. I don’t ‘get’ jokes; I hardly even like them. I am too anxious or depressed most of the time to be anything other than serious; the world scares and hurts me. Every once in a while however, I get this uncontrollable urge to laugh in what might not be the most appropriate of circumstance.

Like the other day when I went to get my license renewed.

“Are you an organ donor,” the person asked, “Would you like to sign up for that?”

“Yes,” I told her, and suddenly got flooded with many thoughts about this. Not so much that I wanted to die in an accident or anything, but if something happens to me, and my husband has me cremated (his family does that, mine doesn’t) at least parts of me might still be around for… Okay, I am not sure about cremation, though I did have my dog and my son’s cat… done.

I have buried so many of my pets – rabbits, guinea pigs, and a couple of cats – here in my yard. Not only did I feel I was running out of room, but… it kind of traps me to this property. It really is the only hesitation I have at thoughts of moving. Kind of morbid, really. Cremating makes it… easier, somehow – as anywhere we go, they could come too.

Not that I exactly believe they are tied to their bodies or their box or… the thing is, I really don’t know what happens to animals when they die. That lack of knowledge has been painful for me. The problem with cremation, though, is that DNA is destroyed, and… I think a lot about these things. I probably shouldn’t. I am sure it can’t be healthy. Still I do.

So if I was cremated, and I was an organ donor, parts of me might not be cremated – and therefore when the resurrection came, there might still be something to resurrect. So I signed.

Of course, while I was signing, that is what I was thinking of: “What if the resurrection comes and my ‘parts’ are made suddenly into a ‘new me’ standing outside of the person.” I pictured this and had to fight really hard not to start laughing hysterically in front of this complete stranger – who would not understand.

But as I was fighting laughter, it turned to sadness as I realized the tragedy of this – the person who had my ‘parts’ would probably need those parts to survive, and what would happen to them if they were suddenly removed?

I wonder if the worker perceived any of these struggles in my mind as I was signing the card, and thought there might be something not quite right with me. I kind of wonder if she might have been right with that perception.

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Autism: Maybe I Heard Wrong

I suppose part of the issue comes for the fact that I don’t hear well in groups. Not at all. I try to hear what is being said. I try to pay attention. But if there is any sound at all other than the one person talking – say, quiet music in the background, or a couple of conversations going on at the same time, or… any sound – I miss most of what is being said.

The situation happened like this: there were a group of us sitting around in a circle. The question was, “how was your week?” and it was my husbands turn to answer.

Now another issue with paying attention to what is being said is that I am not at all an auditory learner. I am not even an auditory thinker (if that is a thing.) I think in pictures. So when people talk, I spend much of my time trying to convert their words into the pictures that I can understand, and then match it up with prior experiences so that I can remember what is being said.

It doesn’t always work.

It doesn’t often work.

In this particular moment, as I was trying to convert the words of my husband, other people were adding comments as well – and suddenly one of those comments was directed at me!

I didn’t even catch all the words, only something about me not counting on the insurance… and they all laughed.

Was it a joke?

Was it something they believed, which was hidden in a joke?

Since I didn’t hear what was said, I didn’t respond, and they moved on. They did, but I couldn’t. In my head I was going over the few words I heard, mixed in with the subject my husband had been talking about (his trip to the doctor) and I was once more hurt and defensive by the words that might have only been meant as a joke.

Only I never understand these types of jokes (if that is what it was – if not, it is even worse.)

It is like when my son was a baby, and his paternal grandmother bought a t-shirt saying something like, “baby for sale.” She thought it was cute and funny, but I was absolutely horrified.

“I would never!” I thought, and kept the pain and tears hidden inside with extreme effort.

Do they think I am with him for the insurance?

Maybe they do. Not them specifically, but many people have believed many bad things about me before that weren’t true. It hurts even more that I can’t defend myself, and when I try, they become even more sure of their original belief.

I am not with him for the insurance – yet if something happened to him, I would struggle a lot in so many ways (that they would likely never understand) and would depend on it, so they would likely believe it more, and it is so not true. But I can’t explain it. I haven’t the words.

Again, this isn’t about the people I was with in that room – but about a lifetime of past experience with things others have wrongly believed about me (and caused extensive damage in believing.)

So maybe it was a joke, and maybe I did hear it wrong – but it still hurt. And those jokes? No matter how hard I try, I am incapable of understanding them.



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Autism: If Only

I watched a movie the other night.

It was an Adam Sandler movie, which was listed on Netflix. Typically, I don’t like Adam Sandler movies. I have nothing against him, it is just that comedy is not my thing. Mostly I don’t get it. I know it is supposed to be funny, but it just leaves me feeling nauseous. It isn’t him – it is comedy in general that I struggle with.

I do have a sense of humour. I do laugh when I find things funny. It is just… I don’t find most things funny that other people seem to. I have a different humour, I guess. Anyway, I tend to choose sad movies most of the time.

There were two movies of his that I liked though: One was ‘Bedtime Stories,’ and this one – “The Cobbler” was the other.

I enjoyed the movie very much, but… okay. My favourite movies I tend to like because I like the story, and the people, and the place, and they make me cry, and… basically I like everything about the movie. A lot of movies I like, however, it may be just one detail that I like about the show.

There are several shows I have liked because I liked the house it was shot in. Houses are a big one for me, and I love Victorians. In fact, I watch a lot of Paranormal shows because they are based in Victorian houses (apparently they are often thought to be haunted?!?) I love the houses, so while I may have some idea of what is going on in the movie, my focus is completely on the house.

“Did you like the movie?”

“Absolutely! I would love to live in that house!” (Forget the fact that it was haunted, or that someone was murdered there, or… I might not be able to sleep after, but… “What a great house!”)

A lot of things I watch are for ideas. Futuristic films, or Sci-Fi, or even post apocalyptic movies (those are some of my favourites!) Time travel, or fallout shelters, or sunflower farms… there is a lot of variety to what I watch because mostly I am in it for the details.


That was the case with this movie. The first few times I saw it advertised on Netflix, I ignored it. Adam Sandler = comedy = not something I would like. But then I was going through the recently added section, and without seeing the picture, I read the description of the movie: (something like: A cobbler is able to become his clients by wearing their shoes.) Perfect!

So I put the movie on, and for the idea I really enjoyed it. Fourth generation cobbler – what a thought! Imagine a world where we were raised knowing, and being trained, for the exact occupation we would spend our lives doing.

Maybe most people like the excitement of choosing their own careers, picking their own direction, being responsible for their own future… I don’t know. For me, however, I found a lot of peace in that idea. How wonderful it might have been to know exactly who I was, and where I was expected to go, and what I was expected to do, from childhood.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have succeeded there, either – but I imagine I would have been far less anxious about where I was supposed to be going, had I known at 5 what was expected of me. Now I am 40, and I still don’t know what I am supposed to be doing… if only.


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Autism: Benefits of My Own Space

There was a fun type of game going around Facebook for a while that said to open up your phone (I don’t have one) and click on the middle suggested word twenty times in a row. I was always tempted to try this, but since I had no phone, and my tablet was not near me at the time, I never got around to it – until today.

I am not sharing this on Facebook, but I found my result quite funny, and wanted to share it here. Keep in mind that I am neither fluent in Spanish, nor do I write in Spanish most of the time – but I must use the automated suggestions much more for Spanish than for English; I have been learning Spanish on for a couple of years, though I got out of the habit nearly a month ago when my routine was changed, and I broke my streak. It is very easy for good habits to be broken for me, and very difficult to get back into them.

All that to explain what I wanted to share. The result of my ‘twenty suggested words’ was: “yo no rechazo a la gente que no tiene nada que ver con el tema de la compra de la casa de la abuela,” which means, “I do not reject people who have nothing to do with the issue of buying grandma’s house .“ (the “a la,” and the “de la” came up as single suggestions, and the phrase ended in “y” (and) so I left that off.

So I guess that is my new motto for life, “I do not reject people who have nothing to do with the issue of buying grandma’s house!” Funny. I laughed so loud, my son had to come up and see what was going on.

I don’t believe that was ever a phrase that I had to translate in my Spanish course, though it sounds like one they would have – like one I translated a lot in the beginning of the course, “Mis elefantes beben leche.” (My elephants drink milk.)

Speaking of Spanish, I am really enjoying being back in my own room. I sleep better, I wake up feeling better, and best of all, I am getting back into good routines.


For instance, the first thing that came back after moving into the ‘pink room’ was that I started practicing my keyboard again (which I got out of when my brother in law stayed in that room last September.) I thoroughly enjoy it while I am practicing, and spend the rest of the time with worship songs playing through my head (for that is the book I am practicing from.)

Later that week, my husband bought me an ellliptical machine from the thrift store where he works. It is huge and bulky in our living room, and squeaks really loud when I am using it, but I love it! I use it in front of the TV while streaming documentaries on my Chromecast from Netflix. (Wow, there were a lot of words in that sentence that I never used up until a short time ago!)

I am walking my dogs again – though I admit that has so much more to do with the warmer weather than having my own room (it has been hovering just over 0 Celcius this week as opposed to the -10 to -15 Celcius we have had far too long this winter.) Even Clara walked today as the roads were nearly dry for the first time since about November.

Best of all, I am dreaming again. Being in my own room means I can be (pretty much) on my own schedule. It isn’t so much that I am up later than him or anything, but that I am not wondering every moment when he will come in and watch me until I am finished with what I am doing. (Maybe I just felt watched – I always do when someone is near me, but still…) so I am able to focus entirely on what I am doing, and transition on my own terms.

This was a really good move for me!


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Autism: Different Humour

As we walk along, he speaks to me in German. “I don’t know what you are saying,” I respond in exasperation. “That is the point,” he tells me, and laughs. It is a great joke to him that he is able to speak in another language. I catch some words that are close enough to English to make out, and others that he has used several times, but mostly I don’t know what he is saying to me, and he continues to talk almost non stop.

If only I could get that in English – but he has always liked codes. Perhaps that is what would make him a good programmer. He learns the languages quickly when he wants to – American Sign, German, Java, and so many others. He has always been good with languages.

It isn’t just me, however. He also talks to the cats and dog in German. It is a good way to learn, I suppose, as we are pretty much the only ones he talks to anyway. Though I pretend to be frustrated, I am really amazed at how well he is doing. I started learning Spanish at the same time he started German, and I had taken several courses in the language in the past – but though I can read it a bit, I find it very difficult still to speak it.

This is his humour. Different than most, but still developed in his own way. I like how it makes him laugh.

He is busier on his computer these days (now that he is an adult, and I cannot set limits to how long he spends on it.) However, in the past, many of his jokes were shared with me: I would come home from work to find he had hacked into my computer and blacklisted all of my favourite sites, or he would be playing a virtual game (Second Life, or Minecraft, or something) and create invisible teleports that would send unsuspecting people to other worlds – or cause their head to fly off (Lego) – or have them fly up into the sky as if they had stood on a geyser that erupted.

One of his favourite interactions with me, which he has been doing since he was a preschooler, is to sneak up on me to see if he can make me scream (as he just did before I wrote this sentence.) I jump and scream (I am easily startled that way,) and he walks away laughing, as if his job is done.

And then there are the cupboard doors. I commented to him yesterday that if he were a ghost, he would haunt me this way. I walk into the kitchen only to find that every cupboard door, every drawer, and even the dishwasher are open. He knows this makes me cringe, and finds it hilarious – or at least a good way to get back at him for ‘annoying’ him.

Every once in a while, I am able to get him back. Perhaps I finally catch him unexpectedly when I jump around a corner, and he jumps and yells… of course, then he chases me around the house, and my heart races so hard I think I am going to have a heart attack (but I think it is worth it… maybe.) Or, after he has cleared the sink (dishes are his job) I will put one dish into the sink, which he will clear, and then I will put another… this usually only happens when he fills the dishwasher while I am feeding the dog, or having lunch, though. He is much better at this game than I am.

While both of us struggle with typical humour, that does not mean that we have no sense of humour. It just looks different from other people, and perhaps isn’t seen so often when we are in groups (I mean, there is so much to filter out in those environments, how can we be expected to get the joke then, too?)


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