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Netflix recently released Hannah Gadsby’s new show, Douglas. During the introduction, she says that the show is about autism and that if you stay until the end, it’s a romantic comedy. Why? Because autistic people rarely make a good impression; the people who stay long enough are rewarded. Not only is the show about autism, but it could also be argued that the show is for autistic people. At the beginning of the show, Hannah introduces a set of expectations for the show. Autistic people need to know what’s coming, so this is perfect for us.
The next section of the show is about “a curious incident that took place in the dog park in the day time”. This is a play on the book titled “ the curious incident of the dog in the night time”, which is a book about an autistic boy who tries to solve the mystery of a murdered dog
Hannah’s story involved her not being able to read facial expressions……sound familiar?
Her next joke is about having “puffer-fish” moments where she rants about a specific topic. For her it’s golf. For me, it’s the difference between a viola and a violin, because I took 11 years of violin and I WILL tell you the difference because there is a significant one.
The meat of Douglas is Hannah describing how she experiences autism. She jokes that “people who told me I have autism were probably on the spectrum”. I mean…..who better than us to tell you bluntly? She then describes a school experience where she took something literally and was criticized for it. The lesson was about prepositions, but she focused on something more interesting: a penguin’s relationship with a box. I don’t know about anyone else, but my autism presents itself by focusing on the wrong thing sometimes. Things that seem important to me are tidbits to other people.
The most moving part of Douglas, however, was when Hannah described what she felt after receiving her diagnosis. She described it as “being handed the keys to the city of me”. To quote kids nowadays, I felt seen. My diagnosis explained so much about me, but also opened the doors to more questions. Hannah added that the diagnosis explained why she could “be so intelligent, but struggle to leave any proof. It also explained a “sense of isolation, despite trying so hard to be part of the team”. That one hit the nail on the head. I have always felt like an outsider, even with people who like me.
Overall, I’m really happy that I get to truly see myself on screen now-a higher-functiong, non-male person. Before it was a male representation of autism or a lower-functioning representation. But now, if anyone needs a reference to what I experience, I can simply tell them to watch Douglas. This post isn’t sponsored, by the way.