There is often an element of surprise and wonder from people when they hear about actors who happen to be autistic. I’m not surprised. It makes perfect sense. I guess it’s just that some, like Dan Ackroyd and Darryl Hannah, manage to make it to the top-level of the business. But really it’s not a surprise, it’s not any great wonder, it really isn’t.
You may be surprised that I would make this assertion. Aren’t autistic people socially and communicatively challenged? Well you may say that, I don’t. We are different but not in fact challenged. And, the reality, many of us, perform as great actors every day of every week of every year of our lives, just in order to negotiate our day-to-day lives.
We put on a persona as we go to work, we play a role as we go to school. We act out a scene as we do the grocery shopping. And oh so many more situations. In so many ways we perform oscar worthy performances many times each day.
You see we have to pretend to be normal so often. In so many situations we have to pull on our neurotypical costume and tread the boards of the stage that is life on this planet among what are termed neurotypical humans.
Whether it’s getting our hair done at the hairdressers weaving our way through the social chit-chat with the person doing our hair cut who for whatever reason seems to have an absolute need to talk about utterly inane things of no interest or consequence at a rate unimaginable.
Or perhaps it’s the chit-chat with the person serving our coffee at the cafe that wants to talk about the whether or the latest famous person to disgrace themselves. Again something of no interest or consequence. Yet we play the game and tread those board and put on a good show of appearing to be what is supposedly normal.
So it’s no surprise at all that there are autistics that have reached the upper echelon of the acting professions. Autistics are pretty darn good at putting on a performance, of being a great pretender, of going incognito of who they really are.
No surprise at all. Really it is to be expected.
If there is anything to be surprised about it is really that we don’t know of a lot more autistics who have managed the feat.
I must say I played the game for many years. From birth to my early 40’s I pretended to be a neurotypical. I played a role of appearing to be just like the masses. But I wasn’t, and I knew it. Even though it wasn’t until this time in my early 40’s that I became aware that I am in fact autistic, I knew. Yes. I knew always knew, that I was different.
I am different, I am autistic.
You know I always knew I was different, but, for so many years, for so much time, I had allowed myself to be convinced by the world at large around me that I wasn’t just different. I was less. I was broken. I was wrong.
I am not less. I am to broken and I am not wrong.
We are not broken. We are not less and we are not wrong.
We are complete, equal and right.
And I for one am not pretending any more.