Mette Harrison
3 min readAug 15, 2022

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The Gullible Autist

One of the most painful things about being an autist is how gullible I am. I believe people are talking literally and that they are being honest. I suppose I assume these things because that is the way that I interact with other people. It’s hard for me to see that other people operate socially in such a different way. Even after more than fifty years, it makes so little sense to me to exaggerate or lie to others that I just don’t guess at it initially, though I’m aware it’s a possibility. But the better I know someone, the less likely I am to guess that they are “joking” around. I don’t understand jokes in general, so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle.

If you are dealing with an autist, you might reconsider your repertoire or “jokes” and in particular any “pranks” that you might pull on this person. I don’t often find them funny. I admit, my sense of humor is limited or perhaps just of the type that only other autists understand. Humor is very much a product of context and I lack a lot of the normal social context (movies, TV shows, memes, etc) that other people have. I don’t have FOMO and so I miss how the punchline is funny.

If you play this kind of joke on me, you’re going to be waiting for my facial expression when I realize I’ve been pranked. And let me just say that you’re going to be disappointed. My face doesn’t make the right kinds of expressions unless I purposely force it to do so by mimicking other people’s expressions that I’ve learned over the years. I don’t laugh out loud “naturally” when I find things funny. At least not at all reliably. I’m also not going to smile and say, “good one,” or tell you how smart you are to have “pulled one over on me.” I’m going to not get that it is a joke, or that it is funny or that you are smart. I am going to be baffled, confused, and maybe at some point after you explain it to me, I will be hurt.

Let me give you a little background to explain this. I’ve spent my entire life being the butt of other people’s jokes. I am frequently told I am very “funny” when I say ordinary things. As an adult, I’m a little less likely to take offense at this than I used to be as a kid. My earliest years in elementary school, I didn’t figure out that other people were laughing at me at all. It took until middle school for me to figure out that if they were laughing and pointing at me, that was not only NOT good, but also…

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Mette Harrison

Autist, Ironman Worlds triathlete, Writer, Right-Brained