Saturday, September 24, 2011

Glee and Asperger's Syndrome

Below is a copy of a letter I wrote to Fox and posted on Glee's official Facebook page:

For two seasons, I have watched and loved every episode of Glee.  I love that a show can embrace every difference and disability with kindness and humor.  It makes me nostalgic for my own show choir days and the only time in my life that I ever felt I belonged somewhere.  You see, I have Asperger’s Syndrome and fitting in is next to impossible.

Imagine my joy when a character who represents my place on the Autism spectrum was introduced and presented with the same kindness and humor as all the other characters…or rather then joy I might have felt if that had actually happened.  Instead, enter Sugar Motta, the “bitch with a twist.”  Maybe you thought throwing in “self-diagnosed” would make it all right.  It didn’t.

I am a 35 year old woman with Asperger’s Syndrome.  I was only diagnosed last December.  You see, it’s much harder to diagnose Aspie females because we learn social coping methods more readily than our male counterparts.  For those of us who grew up in a time when Asperger’s was not widely known, we stumbled through our childhoods and wondered why we never grew out of our “awkward phases”.  As adults, finding an autism literate therapist is harder than you might think.  Asperger’s is largely misunderstood, even by the so-called experts.

Because of all this, many Aspies are self-diagnosed.  They seek answers to why they feel so different from everyone else and eventually realize the truth – that they, like me, are Autistic.  They are not looking for an excuse to be “bitches”.  They are looking for acceptance.  We recognize our own and do not discriminate simply because someone does not have an “official” diagnosis.  Are there people who claim the Aspie label so they can get away with bad behavior?  Yes.  But not nearly as many as you might think.

Unfortunately, because of characters like Sugar, myself and Autistic people like me are accused of making it all up.  We battle discrimination and misunderstanding on all fronts…even within our own community.  There is a lot of bad information around, leading to misconceptions about why we are the way we are.  Good writers research the characters they create and it’s clear that someone did not do their homework.

You can make this right.  Learn the truth about us and portray us correctly.  Start here:

We are Autistic.  We are Aspies.  We deserve to be heard.


  1. I like your post, I wrote about it too. I hope they listen.

  2. not liking the Asperger jokes on #GLEE its not even funny or necessary Sugar can be bratty without blaming a disability!

  3. yeah that bothered my wife and i. she's neurotypical and i'm undiagnosed autistic but more and more i feel like asperger's and autism is being portrayed in a negative way in the media. i wasn't a big glee fan before, but my wife loved it. thanks to that episode, she has vowed never to watch it again.

  4. I appreciate the link, but I'm not an Aspie.

    As for Sugar, I made myself watch this episode, and not even delving into the Asperger's issue, that was just the most confusing, poorly-written character I have ever seen!