Thursday, November 17, 2011

All hail the nerd culture.

How's y'alls November going?

Did you know that Kindle let's you download a bunch of classic books for free? Guess who has 40 new books to read?

As you know, I claim to be a nerd.

I'm also on the spectrum. I have a shinny certificate from a nice lady doctor who told me I was different.

Unfortunately I don't have a certificate for my nerddom, but that's okay I know you all will believe me.


Today I want to talk about a very special nerd who is also on the spectrum.

You must be familiar with 90s cartoons and The Big Bang Theory to find this amusing.

Have y'all seen this show called the Big Bang Theory?

I know you have a life so let me tell you a little bit about it.

It's a show about a group of super smart nerd  scientists and the waitress who lives next door.

Mostly, waitress says boring blond things and some downright weird things about being from Nebraska.
I do not like the waitress character but maybe you do, so I won't say anything mean about her.


The best character on the show is totally one of us.

His name is Sheldon, he is an awesome scientist.

But How Do I Know This?

I did scientific research for you.

Your welcome

I watched an entire season and took  notes.

Sheldon is from East Texas, he graduated college at 14 and is a theoretical physicist living in California.

"I'm not insane, my mother had me tested"True story.

He has a spot that no one else can sit in.

He gets mad and no one else can sit there. Like ever. It's his spot.

He does not understand social things, sarcasm, or people in general.

But we already did that, for example, once I learn Finnish I'm not going to learn it again.
Here, his friend is trying to convince him to hang out with girls again.

He doesn't touch people on principal.

He loves comic books and video games. 

He is super smart!!

He has problems with situations that are unfamiliar to him. He has a set rigid schedule. He knows he is smarter than most of his peers. He does not temper his language to social situations.

However, the creators of the show continue to deny that Sheldon falls anywhere on the spectrum.


How can this been when we have overwhelming evidence otherwise?

I have some theories.

1. The writers of the show don't know what ASDs are, they didn't have anyone to use the Google for them.

2. They didn't want to offend people who are on the spectrum because they were using what could be a serious disability as part of their comedy.

3. They are waiting to reveal that this will become a major point in future seasons.

I think that theory one is possible, but theory two is the most likely. I've thought about emailing the writers and creators of the show with a list of helpful and informative links to eliminate theory number one from being a possibility.

But even without my super creeper status it seems pretty far fetched that they would have no idea about ASD. I think the only people who are super ignorant of ASD are elementary school teachers and administration.

That's a story for another post.

Here's why theory number 2 is wrong.

Sheldon is pretty self sufficient, he lives away from his parents, has a job that he gets to everyday, has friends, and feeds himself.

SEE! Food and Friends, Functioning Adult!!

There are very, very few NNTs visible in popular media, and even fewer that are portrayed positively.

Off the top of my head I can't think of a single person who is in the public eye who is NNT.

The only one who comes to mind is Temple Grandin, while I'm appreciative for all that she has done gaining publicity for ASD and raising awareness, cows kind of scare me.

A Google search turns up Jett, John Travolta's son who died after having a seizure and Dan Aykroyd, who might have been kidding about being on the spectrum.

It doesn't really give me, or any other young person on the spectrum a whole lot of  hope for role models.

Sheldon may not be the best role model, he can be inflexible and come off as uncaring, but he has friends and a job and is mostly a functional adult. He even has a girl who is a friend starting in the 4th season. I would rather admire Sheldon for the things that he has done then think about how he could improve.

I wouldn't mind if I grew up to be like Sheldon, I think that would be a pretty awesome goal.


The big issue is that we aren't seen. We are invisible.

And life is hard when you're invisible. It's hard when you don't see anybody like you on TV, hear about them on the radio or read about them in books or magazines.  You end up (at least I do, I obv don't speak for everyone) feeling very, very alone and like no one in the whole universe understands you. Which is why it was really refreshing to see Sheldon and have ( kind of for the first time)  someone I could really relate too. 

It was really nice to see someone on TV who is like me, at least a little bit.

But doesn't he get laughed at by the other characters for being different, or being Other?

Yes, it's true that his weirdness is often used for comic humor.

But the show is a comedy
And the other character's weirdness is also used as comedic relief.

For example, one of the other characters can't speak around women. He whispers to the other characters when there are women folk in the room.

The other characters are just as weird and nerdy and different as Sheldon. It's not as though Sheldon is the only comic relief.

Penny the waitress really bothers me.

I think it can be really good to learn to laugh about what makes you different, sometimes it keeps you from crying.

Watching the show there were so many moments where I could relate to Sheldon and a couple of moments where I've said the same thing as Sheldon.

Learning to laugh at yourself makes the disability seem less serious.

Sometimes, it can feel like an all consuming monster that is going to eat my life. If you are NNT or know someone who is, you know this feeling. It is the single most awful terrifying feeling ever.

Seeing anyone, even a fictional character not be bothered by the disibility is really refreshing.

I was talking with my Mom and she mentioned that having a kid on the spectrum is hard because you never know how they're going to turn out. They might turn out to be like Sheldon, pretty happy and functional or, like so many with learning disabilities, they could end up in jail.

Thanks Mom and Dad, for always being awesome!

When I first wrote the letter to stark raving mad mommy the thing that overwhelmed me the most was the responses from moms who were just happy to know that someone with ASD had turned out okay.  I think it gave people hope that maybe they could turn out okay too.

Victory is mine!!

That's what's nice about the show: It's about a character who is smart, funny, has friends and has his own difficulties.

I would really like to see more sucess stories both fictional and non fictional.

What do you all think? Are their good NNT role models out there and I've just been living under a rock this whole time?


  1. The Big Bang Theory is my favorite show ever, we own all the seasons. I like to think there's a little Sheldon in all of us. ;))

  2. I love this show too. But I think you should give Penny another chance. What I love about Penny is that she accepts these "nerds", and especially Sheldon, with all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies. She even sings "Soft Kitty" to him! It gives ME hope, as a mom with a NNT son, that someone will love and understand him some day (besides me!)

  3. The Big Bang Theory is very awesome. There is no doubt in my mind that Sheldon is on the spectrum. I agree with WendyNE that you should give Penny another chance. She really is his friend even if it isn't always a comfortable friendship.

    If you want another show with one of the main characters is on the spectrum then you should try 'Bones' on CBS. It's about a brilliant forensic anthropologist and her FBI partner who solve crimes. It is very well written; funny and touching and interesting. Dr. Brennan takes everything literally, has very few interpersonal skills, and tries to explain everything scientifically. She is a genius, and everyone in her lab accepts her for who she is and loves her, even when she says the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. It is an awesome show. The show also does not mention anything about Dr. Brennan being on the spectrum, but anyone who has any idea of what ASD is can see it in a heartbeat! :)

  4. Amelia! your comment is awesome!

    WendyNE! It's true, Penny is really accepting of the other nerds in the nerd herd. I really like her interactions with Sheldon. I think those are great. I think her interactions with Lennard are weird. Sheldon is so well written I wonder why Penny can't be better written too. I think I'll need to watch some more seasons, I hear she gets better.

    Skywise! I completely forgot about Bones!! I love that show. Brennan is so one of us! I love her.

  5. I LOVE the Big Bang Theory! I actually like Penny, though - did you see the Christmas episode when she gave Sheldon the napkin that Leonard Nimoy used? "Do you realize that all I need is an ovum and I can make my own Leonard Nimoy?" Anyway, sweetie, I will be watching the show with a little different point of view from now on.
    Aunt V

  6. I also recommend Daria Morgendorffer, from the eponymous "Daria." She is highly intelligent, sarcastic, supposedly cynical high schooler who prefers reading, writing, and medical oddities to interacting with people. She also tends to be very logical and sees the ridiculousness of high school (and everything else) as it is. I really like how the show has someone who is definitely a misfit and probably on the spectrum, but as a lot more than just a science nerd. She deals with her outcast status and goes through significant character development through the series, including a relationship.

  7. It's a little iffy, but I identify with her.


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