Sunday, December 31, 2006

Is it time for offended aspies and synaesthetes to confront journalists, writers and researchers?

As is my habit, I looked through our local newspaper, and I couldn't help noticing an article (in the Health and Medicine section) about the interesting and quirky, but generally inconsequential neurological condition synaesthesia. The article was written by Roger Highfield and it was about research conducted by academics Jamie Ward and Julia Simner. As I have a few different forms of synaesthesia myself (and I'm pretty sure our kids have synaesthesia too) I was interested.

Seconds after starting to read the article I was irritated and somewhat offended by the use of the word "sufferer" in reference to synaesthetes like myself. I personally do not find it an agony to reliably associate particular colours with particular letters and numbers, and occassionally experiencing a pleasant phantom flavour in my mouth in response to a specific type of emotion is no burden of suffering for me at all. Smelling the smell of fear is no distress at all compared with feeling the unpleasant emotion that can trigger this form of synaesthesia. It is true that there are anecdotes about synaesthesia causing confusion in the numeracy and literacy education of some synaesthetes, but I think these cases are more the exception than the rule. I am sure that I'm not the only synaesthete who believes that suffering is not an accurate way of describing my experience with this condition, as this subject has been discussed by synaesthetes in an online discussion group.

I'm well used to seeing the word "sufferer" used in popular articles about autism and Asperger syndrome, but when I see synaesthetes given the generalized label of "sufferers" I think that's just absurd.

I once posted a members' poll on an open forum of an aspie activist organization asking members (presumed to be aspies) what they thought of the word sufferer, and I recall the vast majority personally rejected that label, and the word "sufferer" was explicitly described as offensive by some. Of course, expressed opinions of members of this forum may not be representative of the majority of (diagnosed and undiagnosed) aspies, but if only one or a substantial minority of aspies are offended at being described as sufferers of a disorder or disease, shouldn't that give journos and writers pause for thought before they use this word in articles or journal papers that they write about AS or autism?

The fact is that it seems to be a journalistic convention to refer to autistics of all types as "sufferers". Isn't it time that autistics and other neurodiverse people who feel offended or misrepresented when described as a sufferer in some small way challenge these writers? Should we try to contact the writers of these pieces asking them why they chose to use this contentious word? Should we ask them if before writing their piece they actually asked aspies or synaesthetes themselves if they suffer, and if so, is the condition itself the cause of the suffering? Should we take issue with the huge and crude generalization that is made when every person who has a condition is described as a sufferer?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

If this is you, you might be autistic ......

You are a very curious person, in both senses of the word.

You have turned fury into an artform, or art, or a compelling public spectacle.

Intellectual curiosity, a sense of responsibility, barely-repressed anger and strong coffee are the four things that keep you going.

You spend most of your time somewhere else.

If you were an actor playing yourself in an autobiographical movie, movie critics would complain that the acting is wooden.

There is no point in putting on music to listen to while you work, because if you are concentrating you don’t hear a note of it.

You have always had “a nervous disposition”.

When travelling on a commuter train you love to look through the centre of the train through the openings between carriages, and watch the way the curves in the track make the train bend and straighten in a way that looks loose and shaky and passive, but also snake-like.

You normally have a look that is reminiscent of a sullen supermodel, but when you do smile it lights up your whole face like a xenon arc lamp, and you have developed a horizontal wrinkle above your top lip from the extreme stretching.

You inherited that amazing smile and paradoxically, it comes with a personality that can at times be most disagreeable.

An endless stream of thoughts speed through your mind at such a great speed that you need a notebook to catch the most interesting and important ones.

Leading a double life is second nature, because you know that the real you is a person that most people would not like.

Speaking is like a second language.

You are fluent in five languages, but not much good at making small talk in any of them.

Your best friend has a nickname that begins with the words "Mad" or "Crazy" or "Mad Dog" or "Weird".

You have a nickname that begins with the words "Mad" or "Crazy" or "Mad Dog" or "Weird".

Your best friend has a genetic syndrome.

You have a genetic syndrome.

You were born with physical features suggestive of a genetic syndrome - a Hapsburg lip, webbed toes, an extra digit, an oddly-shaped head, a part of your body that did not complete its development, or other things that were noted by the pediatrician at birth.

You were born with one or more physical features suggestive of unusual levels of testosterone during your prenatal development - a very low 2D:4D finger ratio, prominent canine teeth, a very wide face, a brow ridge that you could rest a coffee mug on, or other things.

They told you that you didn’t get the job because you didn’t smile enough.

People feel compelled to make jokes and comments about your body language, even complete strangers.

At times your childhood bore an uncanny resemblance to a scene from the movie Village of the Damned

You're the only student at the school for the intellectually advanced who talks like Sylvester Stallone.

You find there’s nothing more enjoyable and relaxing than plucking a few hairs and reading a few books in the evening.

You look a bit like a hunch-back, or like a person who has had their spine replaced with a curtain rod.

You feel that your innate purpose in life is to disseminate correct information.

Your all-time favourite book is an encyclopaedia.

In your home there is a lounge-style rocking chair for use in winter, and a traditional wooden rocking chair for use during the warmer seasons, and you live alone.

You think the reason why you talk to yourself so much is that “If I want to have an intelligent conversation in this place I have to talk to myself”.

You’re the kind of person that people think twice about hugging, and then they usually decide it’s safest not to.

You like to read reams of computer product documentation and mechanics workshop manuals, just for the thrill of it.

Your sensory sensitivity and hair-trigger gag reflex make visits to the dentist a difficult experience.

You’re the brainiest kid in the school and your behaviour in class is good, but at home your parents can’t get you to stop jumping all over the furniture.

You are puzzled when scientists claim that humans are a diurnal species, because for as long as you can remember you have preferred a semi-nocturnal lifestyle.

You remember the day when you discovered that it is possible, and indeed more comfortable, to walk on your feet rather than on your toes, and you were astonished when you then noticed that everyone else had apparently figured this out before you did.

You neither give nor seek advice about fashion nor choice of clothing.

You suffer from "fashionblindness".

You're pushing forty and you wonder when you are going to grow up.

Your Mum followed the advice in her baby-care manual "Keep introducing new foods to baby, and in time baby will learn to enjoy new flavours", but ten years later your Mum is still wondering when you will start to enjoy new flavours.

You like to talk about computer games with your little friend, who is also your grandchild.

You swear, shriek or make some kind of exclamation whenever you are driven over a speed hump in a motor vehicle.

Your own offspring tease you when you are being a humourless and pedantic old fart.

You have no idea who Brad or Angelina or Jennifer are, but you could give a detailed lecture about the lives of some obscure historical figures.

You get so excited about having a new idea for a computer simulation that you run to your Mum and blabber on about the technical details then flap about like a chook while pulling a weird face and poking out your tongue, and your Mum is not startled because you do this kind of thing all the time.

You resolve to never, ever read a particular book when you find out that the book is heavily promoted and is hugely popular all around the world, because you are naturally suspicious of any fad or idea that the crowd embraces and celebrates.

You say goodbye to your husband in the morning as he goes off to work, and your heart leaps with joy at the prospect of spending the day home alone in an empty house.

What you don’t know about your favourite subject just isn’t worth knowing, and some of what you do know about your favourite subject of study also isn’t really worth knowing.

You listen to Barbra Streisand singing "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world" and you think "Those lyrics make no logical sense at all!"

You never wink back, winking just ain’t your style.

You often get yourself worked up into a lather, not in the bath, but in conversation.

The weather outside is overcast with a temperature neither warm nor cool, and you think “Oh what a glorious, perfect day!”

You have formulated your own conservative but comfortable dress code, wearing an identical outfit most days from underwear to shoes, and there are only four colours amongst all of the clothes in your wardrobe.

You can hear the high-pitched sound of someone’s television set operating, from the street in front of their house, but you often don’t hear your wife’s voice when she is trying to get your attention.

You sometimes take delight in embarrassing your most socially oriented child by dancing and singing when a funky tune is played on the P.A. system at your local supermarket.

You have to hold your breath while walking down the supermarket aisle with toilet bowl deodorizers, or else you might vomit from the stench of the intolerable “fragrances”, and walking down the pet food aisle is completely out of the question.

Your idea of absolute flaming hell is being in a crowded shopping centre supermarket at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, just before Christmas and just after they have re-arranged all the aisles, and loud, distorted music and annoying spruiking are blaring over the PA system, and great, huge overweight women accompanied by their overweight eldest daughters are blocking the way in every aisle, and little kids are playing chasie everywhere, and you catch a disgusting whiff of the smell-trail of an alcoholic shopper who hasn't washed in over a month, and in every checkout line there's a toddler throwing a tantrum (OH, THE HUMANITY!)

That’s you muttering “Fuckoffthelottayas” or “Please, please go away” under your breath while you are weaving your way past the other shoppers in the supermarket aisles.

When your local supermarket opened a “fresh” fish section you never shopped there again.

That's you having a good sniff of the durians in the Fruit and Veg section of the Coles supermarket, even though you have no intention of purchasing any.

You entered the supermarket with a friend, and when you get to the checkout you realise that you can't remember when it was that you last saw your friend.

You're proud of your ability to say "Good thanks" in a suitably perky, friendly voice when the checkout lady asks "How are you today?", but you hope that is where the conversation will end because you're no good at small talk and can't understand a lot of what people say due to auditory processing deficits.

The checkout lady jokes about the way you buy exactly the same food and household products all the time.

By the time you get out of the checkout you have developed a tremor and you feel totally drained.

You wear exactly the same brand and colour of underwear every day, and if you need to restock, and the department store does not stock the exact same undies, you get most annoyed and complain to the store manager.

You can't ever force yourself to buy a pointless barbie doll or action-man figure as a gift for a child, instead you always end up buying children science toys, factual books, spinning tops or things that fly for presents.

The shop assistant starts filling in a stress-leave application form, in shaky handwriting, as soon as you leave the store.

In manner and personality you resemble one of those eccentric characters played by Johnny Depp in movies directed by Tim Burton.

You notice that organisations create codes of conduct not long after you join.

You write personal letters that have lists of perfectly accurate references to published scientific papers at the end of them.

You could be described as a weirdo or an eccentric, but you aren’t insane.

You know you are eligible to join Mensa, but you never bother to take out a membership because you have little time for social clubs.

You enjoy an entertaining afternoon in a small museum, and you were there the entire time that it was open, and you were the only visitor.

Your mum tells you to behave like a nice little girl and stop bashing the crap out of your big brother.

The most enjoyable part of going out visiting with Mum, Dad and siblings is being rocked to sleep by the motion of the moving car during the journey home.

You believe you don't have any true friends, but you have a chat sometimes with the strangest guys in the neighbourhood.

You have no inkling that some people regard your life as a tragedy.

You find rare plants, Asian military history, law enforcement technology or navigational aids pretty darned exciting.

There seems to be a gene for outrageousness running in your family, and you definitely inherited it.

People who know you think "Oh God! This will take at least an hour. Where's a comfy chair?" when they answer the phone and recognise your voice.

You know that it is obviously true that the letter T is dark blue and it is more fun to move about than to sit still.

You get thrown out of places for the silliest of reasons.

You fantasize about being a member of the Addams family, because you think you could fit in quite well with that clan.

Mr Spock is your favourite Star Trek character but you think Captain Kirk is a pompous twit, and you can’t help admiring Sherlock Holmes’ intelligence, cool rationality and attention to detail, while you find his mate Watson to be just a silly old duffer.

You don't know how to properly pronounce a substantial proportion of the words in your vocabulary, because you get new words from books, not people.

You look like a rapper or the lead singer of a heavy metal band when you do body language, and that isn’t really a good look for a grandmother to have.

You walk into a roadhouse diner and order two slices of dry white toast and a coke for dinner, and two roast chickens for your mate with the weight problem.

You sometimes wonder how you ever got to be stranded on Planet Dumb@#$*.

Doctors prescribe anti-psychotic drugs for you even though you aren't psychotic.

They say you smile too much at funerals and you don’t smile enough at parties.

You’re not sure what people mean when they say a person lacks social skills, but you consider physical ugliness to be a devastating disability.

You wish certain inanimate objects would stop playing with your emotions.

You go to a party and all around you there are people chatting, flirting, gossiping, introducing themselves, making jokes, laughing, getting drunk, taking drugs, dancing and helping in the kitchen, and you think to yourself “There’s never anything to do at parties. I hate parties!”

You care passionately about matters of logic, and you could give a lengthy and cogent argument explaining why that is not a contradiction.

You’re unpopular and some people say you’re mad.

Your favourite cartoon character isn’t Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse or any of the Simpsons, it’s Daria.

Whenever you visit a museum you explain all the fascinating things to your companions like you are a museum guide on speed, and if you should visit the museum alone you might even be tempted to do your spiel to complete strangers.

You don’t understand why people buy teddy bears. What use is a teddy bear? What do you do with them? What can you make out of them? There are shops that sell nothing but teddy bears? WHO BUYS THESE THINGS? Why did God create teddy bears? Why can’t people give kids real toys? Teddy bears; you just don’t get it!

You hear that Diana the ex-princess has been killed in a car accident and you think "Dumb bimbo not wearing a seat-belt, drunk driver, shit happens, why all the fuss?"

Your wife hears the thudding sound of you kicking the outside of the house with your steel-capped boots, and she thinks “My dear husband is having one of those trying moments”.

You always identify with the loner character in movies and TV shows.

You are repulsed by odours that most people can’t detect, and you are irritated by sounds that most people can’t hear.

You are a peridromophile, a claustrophile, and also a synaesthete, or even know what any of these words mean.

Your friend realized that you were seriously ill when there weren’t any of the usual arguments or impassioned monologues, and you barely managed to make a mild complaint about the standard of hospital care.

You show a lot of respect for your own and other people’s property, but you don’t show much respect at all for your superiors.

You look at a crowd of people and you think “They all have unique names and unique faces, but they are all so alike in the way they behave, like they’ve all rolled off the same assembly line.”

You can easily tell if a fragrance has had it’s intensity boosted by the addition of some horrible aldehyde chemical.

A stranger comes up to you and asks if you have a watch, and you reply “Yes” and go on your way, wondering why they asked such an odd question.

You don't understand why everyone thinks "normal" and "sane" are the same thing.

The Great Victoria Desert, the Simpson Desert, the Nullarbor Plain and the Gibson Desert are some of your favourite holiday destinations.

You hear a politician say something on TV that you disagree with, and you tell him he is a $%#@head and a lying snake and you are going to go to Canberra to sort him out, and your wife reminds you "Darling, he is only on TV, he can't hear you".

You are concerned that your child is nearly 8 and he doesn’t have any level of expertise in any particular subject, and you wonder if he is a bit behind in his development.

You advise your kids to "Stop wasting your time reading nonsense fictional books, and sit down and read a few encyclopaedia volumes and LEARN SOMETHING".

Brown-nosing, bullshitting and schmoozing are some workplace skills that you have never been able to master, to your great disadvantage.

You shriek more often than most people do.

You are a baby and your favourite toy is your own pram.

You would be very proud if your kids grew up to be technicians, engineers, scientists, philosophers or academics, but if they made a career in sport or fashion modelling, that would really break your heart.

You know what joy and excitement a really good obsession can bring.

You have such an odd style of conversation that you would fail the Turing Test if you weren’t obviously human.

The sound of plastic packaging crackling can transform you from a calm, rational, law-abiding citizen into a snarling ball of fury.

You always seem to be any age but your real chronological age; when you were 6 they called you "The little professor", in your teenage years someone called you a "young fogey", and now that you are 60 they call you "The old boy".

In any situation in which there is the possibility that you will forget something, the most likely outcome is that you will forget it.

You often have moments in which you look around the crowd and notice that no one else is doing what you are doing.

You go to a meeting and make a brief comment and everyone laughs, but you never intended to make a joke.

You are at the beach and your swimming companion gets knocked over by a big wave, and you give him your estimate of how many tonnes of water just hit him.

You're the only person in the room who stops to sniff the roses in the vase.

You spot errors in design, logic, spelling, procedure, grammar and punctuation everywhere, every day, and you wonder why so many stupid people have jobs, while no one will hire you.

You sometimes talk like a cave man, leaving whole syllables out of some words, while at other times you talk a bit like that pedantic, uppity gold-coloured robot in the “Star Wars” movies.

You collect so many items inside your home that there is barely enough room to rock a chair in there.

Your children prefer your detailed and precise definitions of things rather than the ones in dictionaries or encyclopaedias.

You cut the nylon lace trimming off your clothes to make them less like instruments of torture and more like something that you can wear.

If you donated sperm that would be a very naughty practical joke, maybe even grounds for a lawsuit.

You’re living in a world of your own, AND A DAMN FINE WORLD IT IS!

Copyright Lili Marlene 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Neurotypical Disorder - What would things be like if autistics were the majority and neurotypical people were a small minority?


Neurotypical Disorder (NTD) is a neurologically-based disability commonly affecting individuals who are not on the autistic spectrum. Many theories have been put forward to explain the bizarre behaviours and beliefs of people with NTD. The complex cognitive and emotional difficulties of NTD patients cannot be adequately described in a document of this size, but I would like to propose a model of a triad of impairments; Interpersonal Compulsion (IC), egocentricity and an impaired Theory of Minds (TOMs), in addition to the Delusion of Understanding (DOU), to explain the disordered personalities of patients with NTD.

Sufferers of NTD compulsively seek interpersonal experiences in the form of social events or casual meetings, in fact any contact with another human being is seen by the neurotypical patient as an opportunity for creating an interpersonal emotional experience. The drive to satisfy their emotional needs pervades every aspect of their lives. Simple telephone messages or financial transactions with supermarket cashiers are hijacked to meet this social compulsion. IC impairs the NTD sufferer's ability to live independently and maintain employment, as IC commonly causes NTD patients to waste time during working hours gossiping, joking and chatting instead of productive activity. IC can also impair the NTD patient's ability to maintain personal relationships as they may become depressed or resentful if their voracious emotional needs are not met by spouses, family and friends. NTD patients may even turn to their own children to satisfy their emotional needs.

The obsession with being a part of social groups that is commonly observed in NTD patients can leave sufferers tragically vulnerable to peer-group pressure and commercial advertising that exploits social psychology. NTD sufferers often demean themselves by manifesting deceptive behaviour and flattery in desperate attempts to establish and maintain personal relationships. This abnormally intense drive to fit in and please others is thought to be the cause of a tragic underdevelopment of logical thinking skills that is commonly found in neurotypicals. They spend so much time in their formative years considering which are the most socially correct solutions to everyday problems that the ability to think in a purely objective mode can become atrophied.

The egocentric nature of neurotypical individuals can be observed in their insistence that all people who they meet act in an engaging and attentive manner towards them. NTD sufferers can become angry or resentful when others are not as socially oriented as they themselves are. This insistence on sameness and conformity is possibly another manifestation of neurotypical egocentricity.

Neurotypical individuals display Theory of Minds deficits. NTD sufferers are often unable to abstractly theorise that others have intellectual capacity, emotions or humanity; instead these NTD patients rely on non-verbal and verbal expressive displays and performances by others as the sole basis of their beliefs about the internal world of others. Many NTD sufferers are unable to recognise the humanity of others who do not constantly share or demonstrate social/emotional characteristics.

In NTD cases in which there is some preservation of the ability to theorize that others have unexpressed feelings and private beliefs this ability is seriously limited, leading to delusional beliefs about others, the most insidious one being the Delusion of Understanding. NTD sufferers often assume that all other people are of the same psychological type as themselves, and when confronted with evidence that some others behave in a way that is markedly different to their own behaviour, neurotypical individuals invariably characterise these others as recalcitrant, defective or disordered examples of their own type, rather than of a different type than their own. These Theory of Minds deficits appear to be the basis for serious limitations of the social imagination of NTD sufferers, as these patients are unable to envision the psychology of those who are not neurotypical, leading to a marked inflexibility of thinking in the area of psychology. An overconfidence in their limited ability to understand the psychology of others is a defining characteristic of NTD. This lack of personal awareness of their own limitations leads to even more complicated misunderstanding in the form of the Delusion of Understanding (DOU). In particularly florid case presentations of DOU the NTD patient may express the conviction that they can “read the mind” or “feel the feelings” of other people. An inability to distinguish between the literal and metaphorical interpretations of these phrases may be found in patients who have DOU. It may be worth considering a prescription for anti-psychotic medications in these situations. As one might expect, the NTD sufferer’s negative and sometimes delusional beliefs about others can be a serious impairment in their ability to function socially with others, especially non-neurotypical people.

Egocentricity, Interpersonal Compulsion and Theory of Minds deficits account for the neurotypical patient's needs for constant reassurance and social interaction. These needs constitute a considerable drain on the resources of family members and the wider community.

Other mental disorders found to be comorbid with NTD include depression, anxiety and alcoholism. Alcoholism in this population has a 5.5% prevalence rate, based on US data, which is more than one person in 20. It is estimated that around 20% or 1 in 5 of adult females who have NTD will also suffer from clinical depression at some time in their lives (based on US data). Psychosis is a not uncommon occurrence within the NTD population, but the exact rate is unknown. Clearly this is a dangerous cluster of psychopathology.

While effective therapies exist for the comorbidities commonly found with NTD, there is no clear professional consensus or body of scientific evidence supporting any therapy, behavioural intervention, medication or cure for NTD. Long-term Isolation Therapy, in the form of compulsory physical and communicative isolation from others for a substantial part of the day, administered in a residential facility, is thought to offer the neurotypical child the best chance that they have to develop the ability to think for themselves. Early identification of this disorder with early intervention is the key to success. NTD is a highly heritable disease. If both natural parents have an NTD diagnosis, the odds are overwhelmingly high that all of their offspring will also suffer from the disorder. Currently the best hope for the future lies in the availability of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) to screen out embryos that carry the NTD genetic defect.

Associate Professor Lili Marlene
Department of Pseudopsychology
University of Central Suburbia
Southern Aspergalia

Copyright Lili Marlene 2004, 2005, 2006.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Are your fingers or your brain a different sex than your “bits”?
Your 2D:4D ratio; a revealing science activity that you can do in just a few minutes.

How to measure your 2D:4D ratio:

1. Photocopy your right hand, palm facing downwards.

2. Using the photocopy, measure the lengths of your index and ring fingers, from the crease nearest your palm to the fingertips.

3. Divide the length of your index finger by the length of your ring finger, and the number you end up with is your second to fourth digit ratio, or 2D:4D ratio.

What does it all mean? The 2D:4D ratio is thought to be a measure of the levels of sex hormones a person was exposed to when they were developing in their mother’s womb. Women typically have a ratio close to one, or ring and index fingers roughly the same length when measured. Men typically have a lower ratio, at around 0.96, from having a longer ring finger. Some people do differ from what is expected and this is thought to be a reflection of how masculinized or feminized they are.

All kinds of interesting and controversial things appear to be related to this ratio: sex, race, sexual orientation, assertiveness, autism, verbal fluency, handedness, ability at some cognitive tasks, fertility, reproductive success, musical ability, sporting ability, susceptibility to particular diseases, face shape and personality.

New Scientist magazine, 19th August 2006 page 33.

For more info:

A book review:



Scientific journal paper:
The 2nd to 4th digit ration and autism by Manning, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright and Sanders
Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 2001, 43: 160-164.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Memorable fictional characters portraying autistic traits or themes

If you want to understand people who are on the autistic spectrum, you may find that there is a lot to be learnt from enjoying fictional autistic characters, especially those that were created by very talented authors, movie directors, screenwriters or actors who may also be on the autism spectrum.
Warning – The plot details of some movies and books follow; reading further may ruin your enjoyment of films and novels that you have not already seen.

Mr Spock
From the Star Trek television series and movies
Actor – Leonard Nimoy
Mr Spock is half human and half Vulcan. He works amongst humans but does not fit in socially as he follows the cultural values of Vulcans. In Vulcan society the emotions are very much repressed in favour of logic. Vulcans are very intelligent and they are supposed to age at a slower rate than humans. It has often been observed that some adult autistics have a physical appearance that is younger than their chronological age. In the TV show episode "Spock's Brain" Spock's brain is surgically removed and stolen by aliens, but the crew of the Enterprise track down and surgically replace Spock's brain. As soon as the brain is restored to normal functioning within Spock's body, Spock launches into a typically aspergian scholarly monologue. Kirk and Doctor McCoy (two conspiculuosly NT characters), then look somewhat bored, irritated and amused, and their eyes meet. Dr McCoy says jokingly "I should never have reconnected his mouth" and Kirk replies "Well, we took the risk doctor."

Memorable quotes –
“I find your arguments strewn with gaping defects in logic.”

“That is quite logical captain.”

“I am not capable of that emotion.”


Elwood Blues and “The Fat Penguin” Sister Mary Stigmata From the movies The Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000
Actors – Dan Aykroyd* (also co-wrote screenplay) and Kathleen Freeman
Elwood is an unpretentious character with deadpan, unemotional body language and voice. He has a detailed knowledge of law enforcement and he copies officers by driving an ex-cop car, wearing FBI-type attire and maintaining a policeman-like demeanour. Technical details are important to Elwood, and he has unusual and specific food preferences. I think “The Fat Penguin” in these movies has an uncompromising and serious type of aspie personality. She likes to be the one controlling the situation when dealing with others, she has unrealistically high moral standards, not much of a sex life, has difficulty controlling her temper, and does not
appear to smile much.
The actor and co-screenwriter Dan Aykroyd* claimed in a 2004 NPR radio interview that he had been diagnosed as autistic as a child.

Memorable quotes from Elwood–
“They're not carpet tacks. They're dry wall nails.”

"I'll have some toasted white bread please.
(You want butter or jam on that, honey?)
No ma'am, dry.”

From the later sequel movie:
“Listen Willie. You gotta understand these guys are orphan remnants of the post Perestroika Soviet secret police apparatus which until 1991 carried out its twisted interpretation of the original well intentioned Marxist-Leninist doctrine vis-a-vis state security which was massively corrupted by Lavrenta Beria in the thirties. Of course, once a mass populace ....” [Everyone listening to Elwood’s classically aspergian monologue of detailed obscure knowledge has a look on their face like they think Elwood is a bit strange].
Blues Brothers: the Official Trailer. YouTube

Tommy Walker From the 1970’s rock musical and movie Tommy
Actor – Roger Daltrey
This character is thought to have been based upon the discredited psychoanalytic theory of autism popularised by Bruno Bettelheim, which was circulating around the time when this musical was created. Nevertheless, this film can still be viewed as a confronting satire of the way profoundly autistic people are treated by society. Tommy has sensory and speech disabilities and has a savant talent (pinball playing), is labelled as crazy by his parent’s superficial friends, is subjected to a number of bizarre, insensitive and ineffective therapies, is exposed to sexual abuse, his special talents are exploited by his parents for financial gain in a kind of freak show and Tommy is also tortured for amusement by a bully. When Tommy develops the ability to speak this is hailed as a miracle cure and Tommy becomes a celebrity all over again, even though he is a bit of a moralistic bore. Many different typical situations in the lives of people with Kanner-type autism are covered in this movie.

Elliot Goblet An Australian stand-up comedy character. The same actor played a very similar unnamed character, a council health inspector, in the Australian comedy movie Fat Pizza.
Actor – Jack Levi
The Elliot Goblet character that was most famous in the 1980s had an almost complete lack of body language and no expression in his voice, often wildly conflicting with his statements about his own emotional state. Goblet also displays a lack of awareness of fashion, divergent thinking and minor eccentricities.

Memorable quote from Elliot –
“I’m internally berserk”

Memorable quote from the heath inspector –
“Look I couldn’t give a rat’s earlobe about your mother.”
Australian censorship rating of movie – MA 15+

Daria Morgendorffer
From the animated US television series Daria Voice - Tracy Grandstaff
Daria is an intellectually gifted teenage misanthrope with a monotone voice, non-existent body language and unusual interests. Sport, fashion and popularity are of little interest to Daria. Her more popular normal (neurotypical) sister Quinn is ashamed to be related to Daria, evident from the episode in which Quinn pretended in the presence of her friends that Daria was not her sister.
Memorable quotes –
“How come, even in my fantasies everyone’s a jerk?”

“The world is my oyster... but I can't seem to get it open.”

“Life goes faster when you're somewhere else”

Daria - Favorite Quotes [HQ]. YouTube.

Lili von Shtupp
From the classic Mel Brooks comedy movie Blazing Saddles Actor – Madeline Kahn
This character is a comedic tribute to the legendary, courageous and opinionated entertainer Marlene Dietrich. This role earned Kahn an Academy Award nomination. Lili is frank, blunt and she has no time for other people's bulldust. Like many aspies Lili does not welcome casual kisses. One cowboy who tries to kiss Lili ends up with a knee in the groin, and when Hedley Lamarr tries to kiss Lili, she turns her back on him at just the right moment for him to crack his teeth on the back of her skull. Either Lili did that deliberately, or she does not read the body language of others with much ability or interest. On stage and off Lili shows no enthusiasm whatsoever for playing the role of the entertaining and endearing female stereotype, which makes one wonder how and why she ever got into show business. She has a very flat, monotone voice and a very aloof and cold manner, but we all know she really has a heart of gold.
Memorable scenes from movie –
Lili (on stage) "Hello, cowboy. What's your name?"
Cowboy "Tex, Ma'am."
Lili "Texmam? Well, tell me Texmam, are you in show business?" Cowboy "Well no ma'am."
Lili "Then why don't you get your fwiggin' feet off o' the stage.”
[Lili kicks his feet off the stage forcefully and the audience roars with laughter]
Hedley Lamarr "For you, my dear."
[Hedley gives Lili a bunch of rather unexceptional-looking flowers]
Lili "Oh, how owdinawy" [Lili glances at the bunch and tosses it to the floor tactlessly]

Blazing Saddles - Lilly Von Schtupp. YouTube.

Sherlock Holmes
From writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle* and various movies
Actors – Basil Rathbone and others
Professor Michael Fitzgerald on Sherlock Holmes: “Interestingly, Sherlock Holmes – a fictional character – shows the characteristics of a person with Asperger’s syndrome. One interpretation of the stories is that Holmes represents Conan Doyle and Dr Watson represents a non-autistic person.” (Fitzgerald 2005). Professor Fitzgerald has identified Conan Doyle* as an autistic person. Another professor has also identified Holmes as an autistic fictional character created by an author who was probably also autistic, economist Professor Tyler Cowen in his 2009 book Create your own economy. Sherlock Holmes has a savant-like brother named Mycroft who co-founded a gentleman’s club named the Diogenes Club, for shy and misanthropic gentlemen. Talking is banned in this (fictional) club. In real life Doyle was a member of the Athenaeum Club which included among its members three other famous people who have been identified as possible cases of Asperger syndrome. The evil Professor Moriarty character has also been identified as arguably autistic (Cowen 2009 p. 153). Autistic people are particularly talented at observing and analysing the world at a detailed level, and some are thought to excel at reasoning in a logical manner. These are talents displayed by Holmes.

Memorable quote –
“You know my method, Watson. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.”

Theo the "policy wonk"
From the Australian "chick lit" novel Campaign Ruby by Jessica Rudd

The author of this debut novel is the daughter of Australia’s Foreign Minister and deposed former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Kevin Rudd has described himself as a nerd and has also described himself as a "first class policy wonk". Rudd has been the subject of mostly good-natured joking about his personality and body language, including comparisons with a robot (Crabb 2007, 2010), with the nickname "Ruddbot"dating back to 2006 (Tilley 2007). Rudd has been criticised as a PM for having an unpleasant and autocratic leadership style and getting bogged down in details. The setting of this novel is an Australian federal political campaign and the main character is a young career-oriented lady who accepts a position as a political staffer during this campaign. Jessica Rudd worked closely with her father during the very successful 2007 election campaign in which Rudd became the PM. This book attracted much attention before it was published, shortly after the political coup that removed Rudd as PM, because in parts it mirrors real life political events in an uncanny way.
Theo is the stereotypical borderline-autistic male nerd who wears glasses that have coke bottle lenses. Theo is brilliant and benign, but oddly unable to avoid saying tactless things. He is described in the book as being very deficient in social and emotional intelligence. Theo writes party policies off the top of his head, alone, on demand. In one scene, during a tense time, Theo paces back and forth while talking to himself, acting autistic in two different ways at once. Could K. Rudd have been an inspiration for this character, or maybe Wayne Swan?

Some characters from movies produced by Val Lewton
I have written about the autistic characteristics of Lewton here:
There is also evidence that Lewton experienced ordinal linguistic personification synaesthesia, and was eccentric from childhood.

Irena Dubrovna and the other cat people from the 1942 movie The Cat People
Actor - Simone Simon Producer - Val Lewton
These people have an inherited, mysterious curse which causes those affected to become out of control (transform into black panthers and kill) when emotionally aroused. This group is like some exotic, feared, reviled and hunted secret society, a secrect society that is so secret that some of its members don't even know for sure if they are members. The main character fears that she is one of these people, and she falls into the control of psychiatry.
Cat People - my sister. YouTube.

Amy the little girl from the 1944 movie The Curse of the Cat People, sequel to The Cat People
Actor - Ann Carter Producer - Val Lewton
The daydreamy Amy is a concern to her parents because she has no friends of her own age, instead she chooses to spend her time in the company of an imaginary friend, Irena, the dead cat-woman character from the previous movie. Amy has a special empathy for strange people; she also befriends two seriously troubled women in the neighbourhood, an elderly sufferer of Capgras delusion, possibly caused by dementia, and her resentful carer daughter. American Freudian child psychologists of the generation that gave us atrocities such as the "refrigerator mother" theory of autism/schizophrenia worked themselves up into a lather over this movie, but that doesn't detract from the quality of this film.

Finn the mute from the 1943 movie The Ghost Ship
Actor - Skelton Knaggs (a homely-looking character actor with a history of playing intellectually disabled characters) Producer - Val Lewton
He cannot speak, but he is surely no dummy.
Memorable quote - “This is another man I can never know because I can never talk with him, for I am a mute and cannot speak. I am cut off from other men, but in my own silence I can hear things they cannot hear, know things they can never know.”

James Rourke From the 1995 science fiction novel Distress by Australian "hard science fiction" author Greg Egan* This book is set in the future. James Rourke is a minor character depicted toward the beginning of the novel. Rourke is the Media Liaison Officer for the Voluntary Autists Association, a lobby group campaigning for the legalization of surgical enlargement of the brain lesion underlying autism (fictional science) or the complete excision of the affected brain area, in a time when a medical patch-up "cure" of autism is possible for some who are partially autistic. Rourke’s arguments about the advantages and disadvantages of neurotypical and autistic psychology are interestingly similar to some pro-neurodiversity arguments and anti-neurotypical satire written by real life anti-cure autistic activists.

In the movie Blade Runner there is the unanswered question of whether the main character, Deckard, is unknowlingly a replicant, and in this story could the main character, Andrew Worth, unknowingly be an autist? The main character of Distress, Andrew Worth, has also been identified as having an autistic personality and this novel has been cited as one of the first to feature such a personality as a central element (Hassler & Wilcox 2008 p.18), many years before the publication of the best-seller novel The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon.

The author Greg Egan* is known for his reclusiveness. He does not attend science fiction conventions nor sign books. At his web site he has explained that "There are no photos of me on the web." Egan was identifed and a possible case of Asperger syndrome in an article published in 2006 in the sci fi magazine Locus Online.

In the world depicted on the last page of the book the old deluded (neurotypical) way of thinking about human relationships has been mostly replaced by rational (autistic) wisdom, through biological change and cultural revolution. Now that’s what I call a happy ending!

Memorable quotes –
“But how much is understanding – and how much is a delusion of understanding? Is intimacy a form of knowledge – or is it just a comforting false belief?”

"What's the most patronizing thing that you can offer to do for people you disagree with, or don't understand?"

"What's the most intellectually lazy way you can think of, to try to win an argument?"

Bobo Gigliotti and his Mama From the Australian comedy television series Pizza the movie Fat Pizza and other movies based on the series
Actors – Johnny Boxer and Maria Venuti
These characters are very negative but very funny adult autistic stereotypes. Bobo, a misanthropic pizza shop proprietor of Italian descent, is a very poor communicator, he lacks imagination, his social and private lives are disastrous, and he has serious anger-management issues. Bobo’s body language is stiff and limited, and his voice is very strange. Bobo’s employees believe he is “crazy” and a “tight-arse” (tight with money). Some autists are very reluctant to share or spend their money, and it is a common thing for autistics to be mistakenly regarded as mentally ill. Bobo appears to lack empathy for everyone except his naïve young wife and his mother. Bobo’s Asian wife was a mail-order bride found through the (fictional) website Bobo’s divorced mother clearly has a personality very similar to Bobo’s. Bobo and Mama both act in a cold and hostile manner towards others, but the bond between them is very strong, probably because they are so much alike and so different to everyone else.

Memorable quote from Bobo –
“SHUT UP!” Memorable quote from Mama –
“Grande puttana!” Australian censorship rating of movie – MA 15+

Amélie Poulain, her boyfriend Nino Quincampoix and some other characters in the movie From the French movie Amelie (this movie is known by a number of different titles)
Actors – Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz
Two genuine eccentrics who were just made for each other, in a very eccentric and popular movie. Nino has had three strange and original detail-oriented and obsessive collecting hobbies, and one of them is central to the plot of this movie.
Australian censorship rating of movie – M 15+

Garth Algar, and his girlfriend Betty Jo in the sequel movie From the movies Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World II Actors – Dana Carvey and Olivia d’Abo
These characters are archetypal computer programmer, socially-awkward, spectacle-wearing nerds. They were made for each other.

Raymond Babbitt
From the movie Rain Man Actor – Dustin Hoffman
No explanation needed. Hoffman won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1988 for this role.

Willy Wonka, and his father in the 2005 movie From the movies Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, director Mel Stuart) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005, director Tim Burton*), both based on the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Actors – Gene Wilder, Johnny Depp
Wonka is an intelligent, creative, childlike and very eccentric misanthrope. He wears odd formal attire. In the more recent version, Wonka has an odd, fake-looking smile and does not like to touch people, not even his own father. Wonka’s frosty father does not enjoy hugs any more than Willy does. Some autistic people find touching others uncomfortable, and are not natural smilers. In one scene Willy blurts out some nonsense words for no apparent reason, suggestive of Tourette’s syndrome, which is often found with Asperger syndrome, or this could be an example of the autistic behaviour of “talking to your self”. The characterisation of Willy Wonka by Johnny Depp is thought to borrow many traits from the legendary entertainer Michael Jackson. Some features of the Willy Wonka character also remind me of Lewis Carroll*, who, like Jackson, had a special affinity with children and could be described as a brilliant eccentric. Some autistic adults prefer the company of children or animals more than the company of (neurotypical) adults. Lewis Carroll* has been identified as an autistic by Prof. Michael Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald 2005, Fitzgerald 2004). There has been some speculation that the movie director Tim Burton* may be on the autistic spectrum (Sampson 2004, W.E.N.N. 2005), including speculation from Burton's partner actress Helena Bonham-Carter. There seems to be a pattern of main characters in Burton's movies who are loners or outsiders, and who have autistic traits. The author of the children's book that the movies were based on, Roald Dahl, was a misanthrope in real life.

Memorable quote from Willy Wonka –
"You can't run a chocolate factory with a family hanging over you like an old dead goose... no offense.”

Edward Scissorhands
From the movie Edward Scissorhands directed by Tim Burton*
Actor – Johnny Depp
Edward is an outsider who is different and misunderstood. Cory Sampson has written an article in which this movie is analysed as a psychological allegory of a man “afflicted” with Asperger syndrome. Sampson also speculated that Burton may be on the autistic spectrum (Sampson 2004).

Jack Skellington
From the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas also known as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas directed by Henry Selick, based on the story by Tim Burton*
Voice – speaking - Chris Sarandon, singing – Danny Elfman
Jack is the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown. He has a quaint, formal way of speaking. Jack has an almost naïve decency in his personality and an almost childlike enthusiasm for invention and innovation, but there’s also something a bit scary about Jack, if there weren’t he could hardly be the Pumpkin King. Jack is a single-minded and obsessive workaholic. He is always thinking about new ideas for the next Halloween, even on the 1st day of November. When Jack discovers the spirit of Christmas in Christmastown, he is fascinated but does not understand what it is. Jack tries desperately to understand Christmas by reverse-engineering and chemically analysing Christmas artefacts using the scientific method, but he still misses the point. This is an amusing example of an autistic person unsuccessfully trying to understand the emotional experiences of other people by using the methodology of systemizing.

The Princess
From the Hans Christian Andersen* story The Princess and the Pea

The princess is judged to be “a real princess” because of her sensory hypersensitivity, which enables her to feel discomfort from a pea being placed underneath many mattresses. Why the prince in this story and his royal family should all consider sensory hypersensitivity to be a defining characteristic of true nobility is an interesting question to ponder, but it should be noted that the author of this story has been identified as a person who had Asperger syndrome (Fitzgerald 2005) and therefore was likely to have had this sensory condition himself.

The Innocent Child Who Spoke the Truth
From the Hans Christian Andersen* story The Emperor’s New Clothes
Autistics are thought by some to have an unusual level of moral integrity with regard to telling the truth, or to be so outspoken and frank that it can be considered provocative or rude.

Pris, Roy Batty, Rachael and others
From the cult science fiction movie Blade Runner based on the novel by Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Actors – Daryl Hannah*, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young
These characters are replicants, artificially created humanoids made of flesh and blood but neurologically different to humans. Replicants are built to have a very limited life-span. Replicants are thought to lack the ability to empathize, but they do fall in love, (at least with other replicants), and some do not know that they are not human. Replicants are being hunted down for extermination following a mutiny against humans in which the replicants asserted their right to the same freedoms as those enjoyed by natural humans. Some autistic people identify with the replicant characters in this movie. Hauer’s performance as Roy Batty has been described as “… cold, Aryan, flawless.” Batty’s ruthlessness may seem cold, but it is obvious that he is seething with fury because of the replicants’ disadvantaged place in society. The bounty hunter Rick Deckard in the film may also unknowingly be a replicant.

The actress Daryl Hannah*, who played the replicant Pris in this movie was reportedly diagnosed as "borderline autistic" as a child (MailOnline 2007) and was recommended for institutionalization (Wood 2009).

Australian censorship rating of movie - M

The blonde alien children From the British 1960 science fiction movie Village of the Damned based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. There was a 1963 sequel titled Children of the Damned which had similar characters and plot
All women of childbearing age in the village of Midwich simultaneously fall pregnant and the offspring are all strangely alike, blonde, highly intelligent and appear to be lacking in emotion. They do not bond emotionally with their human "parents" and "peers". As children they are feared and rejected by their community and come into conflict with their community. The hair and the fingernails of these strange children are studied scientifically and are found to be not normal. Although the story is that these kids are aliens, they are also in some ways like children who have a genetic syndrome. There is in fact at least one genetic syndrome on the OMIM database that has a symptom that can be detected by inspecting (pale) hairs under a microscope. Autism and autism-like behaviour/personalities are found in a number of genetic syndromes. The blonde brainiac kids are educated in a special segregated and highly accelerated class - in this respect they are like intellectually gifted children. In real life there appears to be a link between intellectual giftedness and the autistic spectrum, so in many ways these alien fictional characters mirror the lives of some autistic children.

Characters in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen In the book So odd a mixture: along the autistic spectrum in 'Pride and Prejudice' Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer identifies eight characters in Austen’s classic novel, including “Mr Darcy”, as being on the autistic spectrum.

Bartleby the Scrivener From the short story Bartleby the Scrivener: a story of Wall Street by Herman Melville*. Professor Stuart Murray has identified this character as autistic in a conference paper. The author Herman Melville* has been identified as autistic in the book The genesis of artistic creativity: Asperger’s syndrome and the arts by Professor Michael Fitzgerald.
Thomas Jerome Newton
From the 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth directed by Nicolas Roeg, loosely based on the 1963 science fiction novel The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis.
Actor – David Bowie
Thomas Newton is a closet alien who came to Earth who makes a fortune on Earth from patenting technologies using advanced technical knowledge brought from another planet, but despite his huge wealth he remains an outsider from human society and human relationships. The metaphor of the alien on a strange planet has been used many times by autistics and others to describe the autistic’s place in society. One line of dialogue is thought to be a reference to the rock musical Tommy, which is explicitly about an autistic character, so the similarities between the alien character Newton and autistics are probably intentional. The pale, thin Newton has at least one sensory ability that humans do not have, and he often wears sunglasses to protect his eyes from glare. In one scene (in section 15 of the DVD) Newton rocks while sitting. Newton never “makes small talk”, unlike his human girlfriend Mary-Lou. Social climbing and romance with humans are not priorities for Newton. Despite his wealth, he has a human girlfriend who is uneducated and lower-class, and he does not really love her. Newton’s mind and heart are on another planet. Newton came to Earth as a part of an unsuccessful plan to save his (alien) people on his home planet, where he left a wife and children behind. Mary-Lou is terror-stricken when Newton strips off his human disguise and reveals to her his true alien nature. Newton appoints a human lawyer to do the face-to-face dealing with humans necessary for the management of his corporation, but he is betrayed by the lawyer and things go badly wrong for Newton. At one point in the movie Newton is imprisoned by medicos wearing white coats and fake smiles who unsuccessfully try to convince him that he is not an alien. Throughout all these hardships and disappointments Newton is stoic and not emotionally expressive. While the human characters age Newton remains young looking. Newton becomes a sad (but quiet and well-behaved) alcoholic who loses touch with the humans from his past.

I think the life story of Sir Isaac Newton*, a loner who’s technical knowledge was way ahead of his time, was probably an influence on the creation of this alien character. I guess the character’s first name is from the rock musical character and the surname is from the physicist. Sir Isaac Newton* has been identified by two authors, one an autism expert, as having been an autistic (Baron-Cohen 2003, James 2004, James 2005).

The story of eccentric genius inventor Nikola Tesla*, who died in a state of poverty and at one time claimed to be an alien born to human parents, is thought to have been an inspiration for this character (Seifer, 1996). Tesla was a visual thinker and is thought by some to have been autistic. David Bowie has a history of playing autistic characters in movies; he portrayed famous autist Andy Warhol* in the film Basquiat and Bowie played Nikola Tesla* in the 2006 movie The Prestige. In the original book the main character’s name is the same as in the movie, and the planet that he came from is named Anthea. In the book Antheans are superior in intelligence to humans and less emotional.
Quote about Newton from other characters in the movie –
Farnsworth “I don’t trust him.”
Trevor “I don’t trust you.” Farnsworth “That doesn’t alter my feeling for you.”
Trevor “Has he ever been wrong?” Farnsworth “No, but he’s a freak.”

Question from Mary-Lou to Newton –
“Am I talking too much?”

Conversation between human Nate and Newton –
Nate “Don’t you feel bitter about it … everything?”
Newton “Bitter, no. We’d have probably treated you the same if you’d come over to our place.”

Australian censorship rating of movie – R 18+

Morticia, Wednesday and Pugsley Addams
From the 1960s US comedy television series The Addams Family
Actors – Carolyn Jones, Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax
One of the funniest things about true eccentrics is that we often don’t realize that we aren’t perfectly ordinary and normal. I think Jones’ TV Morticia is more like an aspie than Anjelica Houston’s cinematic Tish in the movie Addams Family Values. The movie Morticia seems more smug, calm and self-confident, while the TV series Morticia was sometimes surprised or perplexed when confronted with normal people and their inexplicable ways, a typical aspie experience.

Link to page containing image:

Harvey Denton, his wife Val and their twin daughters and Chloe and Radclyffe From the UK television series The League of Gentlemen.
Mr Denton breeds toads, is very serious about cleanliness and speaks in an odd pedantic manner, coming up with some wonderfully original phrases. The uncanny twins are very serious and knowledgeable for their age, rather like Wednesday Addams multiplied by two. The family have some very strange ways.
Memorable quote from Harvey Denton:
“Conducting yourself in the solo symphony?”

Link to guide to characters:
Australian censorship rating of TV series DVD - M

Bernard Marx
From the 1932 science fiction novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bernard Marx was born into one of the highest castes, and is therefore expected to be superior in intelligence (which he is), but in appearance and behaviour he does not fit in socially with his elite peers. There are rumours that there was some technical glitch in the artificial womb in which Bernard was created, which would make him slightly biologically sub-normal and non-standard in a society in which people are genetically engineered to be homogenous within their castes. He is a loner misfit in a hedonistic and superficial society in which promiscuous sex and drug use are almost compulsory. The enjoyment of solitude is frowned upon and profound emotional and intellectual experiences are considered to be unhealthy and anti-social.
Information about Brave New World
Information about Bernard Marx

John Rambo From the movie Rambo: First Blood Part 2 Actor – Sylvester Stallone (also co-wrote screenplay)
Rambo has a classically autistic monotone voice (Stallone's natural voice), and also has minimal body language, despite the fact that he is filled with anger. He is a man of few words, but not lacking intelligence. Rambo appears to have more moral integrity than other characters in the movie, and he is very determined and single-minded. He expertly uses some very nice pieces of technology.

The actor Sylvester Stallone has a son who has been diagnosed as autistic.

Australian censorship rating of movie – M 15+

Dr Anton Phibes, Mrs Victoria Regina Phibes and Vulnavia From the movies The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again Actors – Vincent Price, Caroline Munro (in photographs), Virginia North
All three characters are cold and aloof in their personal presentation. Phibes is highly intelligent and educated, obsessive, and has very strong emotions. He performs impassioned monologues to his deceased wife when he is alone. He executes his brilliant plan to avenge the death of his wife with great precision and no empathy for those who he blames. Phibes has absolutely no tolerance for people in the professions who are technically incompetent, an attitude displayed by some intellectually gifted aspies. Phibes’ social circle appears to be limited to only one person, his assistant Vulnavia. Perhaps this is why he misses his deceased wife so acutely. Mrs Phibes is identified by one character as having been a strange person. Vulnavia is mute but still works with Phibes very effectively in a two-person team. They have a relationship that seems to be very precisely planned and choreographed.
Memorable quote from Dr Phibes –
“Within twenty-four hours, my work will be finished, and then, my precious jewel, I will join you in your setting. We shall be reunited forever in a secluded corner of the great elysian field of the beautiful beyond!” Australian censorship rating of Abominable Dr. Phibes – M 15+

Roderick Usher and his sister Madeline From the story The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe and the movie of the same name
Actors – Vincent Price and Myrna Fahey
Roderick obsesses over what he believes is a severe character flaw inherited through the Usher family line. Roderick lives an isolated life within the crumbling family mansion.
Memorable quote –
"Madeline and I are like figures of fine glass. The slightest touch and we may shatter. Both of us suffer from a morbid acuteness of the senses..." Australian censorship rating of movie – PG

Ada McGrath
From the movie The Piano (director Jane Campion, soundtrack composed by Michael Nyman) Actor – Holly Hunter
Hunter won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for this role.
This mute, musically gifted and strong-willed female lead character is thought by some to be autistic.

Dr Gregory House From the US television series House Actor – Hugh Laurie
House is the head of a hospital medical department, a diagnostic genius who is also a maverick and a misanthrope. People find him difficult or unpleasant to deal with. There has been some speculation as to whether this character is an aspie, and in one episode House speculated about this after dealing with an autistic child patient. In some ways the character resembles a stereotype of an intellectually gifted aspie, having an extensive medical knowledge, a love of solving medical puzzles, good attention to detail, and a disappointment with the failings of humanity. It appears that the character has been modelled on the classic fictional detective character Sherlock Holmes, a character who, like House, has a drug addiction, is highly intelligent and is a loner. The surnames “House” and “Holmes” are similar. Sherlock Holmes has been identified by an autism expert as an autistic character created by an autistic writer (Fitzgerald 2005). I personally think House is too articulate and intentionally offensive to be a typical adult autist. I don’t believe drug addiction is an autistic trait or is even more common in autistics than the general population.

The Kransky Sisters
Australian musical comedy trio
Actors - Annie Lee, Christine Johnston and Michele Watt
Quote from press review by Alison Jane Miller "... their unusual musical act draws on naivete, spinsterhood and a somewhat Gothic existence to form the world of three eccentric sisters." The Kranskys are from rural Queensland and they rarely smile. They play instruments including a tuba, tambourines and a musical saw. They have a conservative and severe dress code reminiscent of the Blues Brothers. Librarians used to dress in the Kransky style in the time before the profession of librarianship went to the dogs.

Sam Kekovich
Although Sam Kekovich is indeed a real person (an ex-AFL footy player), the comedic persona presented in the Australian TV advertisements for Australian lamb (screened anually around Australia Day), is obviously exaggerated and is a characterization
Actor-Sam Kekovich
In the deliberately controversial advertisements Mr Kekovich delivers impassioned, slightly offensive and somewhat nonsensical monologues, using a choice of words that is often quaint and oddly formal, while staring expressionlessly at the camera, without as much as a blink or a twitch of a facial muscle, with a most unnatural style of eye contact, as though he is Elliot Goblet's redneck uncle. Australian comedy has certainly made great mileage out of the more amusing aspects of autistic body-language and communication styles. Did Kekovich steal his famous catch-phrase from a real autistic eccentric with political opinions? David “Screaming Lord” Sutch* was a British rock musician who co-founded a political protest party; the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Sutch’s biography contains a believable claim that he had Asperger syndrome. One famous campaign slogan of Sutch’s was “Vote for insanity: you know it makes sense.”
Memorable Kekovich quote
"You know it makes sense!"

Some more fictional characters that might belong in this list

some literary characters created by American author Sherwood Anderson*

Grace Cleave the main character from the semi-autobiographical novel Towards Another Summer by NZ author Janet Frame*

Bender from the animated American TV comedy series Futurama

Chauncey Gairdner from the movie Being There

Rik and Vyvyan from The Young Ones British 1980s TV comedy series (Vyvyan is a medical student and a punk with a noticeable lack of empathy. The Vyvyan character is clearly based on punk rockers such as Sid Vicious, who had a strange facial expression as does Vyvyan, and was in fact a top academic perfomer when we was in high school.)

Arthur Putey from Monty Python

Jack Isidore from the novel Confessions of a Crap Artist by Philip K. Dick, who was a very strange person

Bill Lundborg from the novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick

Noah Joad from the novel The Grapes of Wrath, identified as possibly autistic in the blog Kingdom of Introversion

Meg from the novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
discussed in the blog Embracing Chaos

Characters in Ayn Rand novels (Ayn Rand was an odd duck and a misanthrope and has been identified as having had Asperger syndrome by a number of commentators.)

D-Fens / William Foster in the Hollywood movie Falling Down (An angry engineer who dresses in a conservative, nerdy style feels that the world has treated him badly despite his attempts to do the right thing in good faith. Autism has been linked with engineering in some scientific studies, and autistic people often display a bad temper and a plain or conservative style of dress. D-Fens clearly identified himself with his job as an engineer in a defense industry, and is probably left feeling that he has no social identity or place in society after he is retrenched from his job.)

Lisbeth Salander victimized computer hacker with a photographic memory and deadpan facial expressions from the bestselling Millenium Series novels by Steig Larsson, including The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. These novels were made into movies in which the Salander character was played by Noomi Rapace. Apparently the Salander character is explicitly identified as a possible case of Asperger syndrome in at least one of these novels. The author is quoted as saying this character is what he imagines the Pippi Longstocking character would be like as a grown-up.

Pippi Longstocking a character in a series of childrens' books by Swedish author Astrid Lundgren

The Deranged Cousins by Edward Gorey, who was a loner and an odd duck.

Book References

Baron-Cohen, Simon (2003) The essential difference. Penguin Books.

Bottomer, Phyllis Ferguson (2007) So odd a mixture: along the autistic spectrum in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Cowen, Tyler (2009) Create your own economy: the path to prosperity in a disordered world. Dutton, 2009.

Crabb, Annabel (2010) Rise of the Ruddbot: observations from the gallery. Black Inc, July 2010.

Crabb, Annabel (2007) Take me to your leader - Ruddbot wired for power. The Sydney Morning Herald. November 24th 2007.

Egan, Greg (1995) Distress. Millennium.
Fitzgerald, Michael (2005) The genesis of artistic creativity: Asperger’s syndrome and the arts. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Fitzgerald, Michael (2004) Autism and Creativity: is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability? Brunner-Routledge.

Green with envy at Daryl Hannah. MailOnline. April 21st 2007.

Gross, Terri. (2004) Comedian – and writer – Dan Aykroyd. Fresh Air. NPR. November 22 2004. [discusses his childhood diagnosis at around 29 minutes into this radio interview]
Hassler, Donald M. & Wilcox, Clyde (2008) New boundaries in political science fiction. University of South Carolina Press, 2008.
[The autism of two fictional characters in the novel Distress by Greg Egan is discussed, can be previewed at Google Books]
James, Ioan (2005) Asperger syndrome and high achievement: some very remarkable people. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

James, Ioan (2004) Remarkable physicists: from Galileo to Yukawa. Cambridge University Press.

Murray, Stuart (2004?) Bartleby, Preference, Pleasure and Autistic Presence.
Cognitive Disability and Textuality: Autism and Fiction, 2004, MLA Convention, Philadelphia, PA, 27-30 December.

Rudd, Jessica (2010) Campaign Ruby. Text Publishing, 2010.

Sampson, Cory (2004) Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands as a psychological allegory. The Tim Burton Collective.

Seifer, Marc J. (1996) Wizard: the life and times of Nikola Tesla, biography of a genius. Carol Publishing Group.

Sharpe, Graham (2005) The man who was Screaming Lord Sutch. Aurum Press. 2005.

Tilley, Cristen (2007) I, Ruddbot. November 15th 2007.

Westfahl, Gary (2006) Homo aspergerus: evolution stumbles forward. Locus Online. March 6th 2006. [H. L. Gold, H. P. Lovecraft and Greg Egan identified as possible cases of AS]

Wood, Gaby (2009) A bigger splash. Weekend Australian. July 18-19 2009 Review p. 22-23.

Wood, Gaby (2009) I'm a little bit of a nerd. Observer. June 7th 2009.

[same article as above]
World Entertainment News Network (2005) Burton may be autistic.

* Denotes people who are included in this list:
A referenced list of 174 famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are or were on the autistic spectrum

Copyright Lili Marlene 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011.