Jerry Seinfeld is getting the ovation of his life for disclosing that he may have autism. Newsmax TV’s “Meet The Doctors” program reports this week that autism advocates are hailing the New York comedian’s revelation that he struggles with some of the hallmark symptoms of the mental-health condition, including social awkwardness.
“I think, on a very drawn-out scale, I think I'm on the [autism] spectrum,” Seinfeld told NBC Nightly News in an interview with Brian Williams. "Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I'm very literal, when people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don't know what they're saying. But I don't see it as dysfunctional, I just think of it as an alternate mindset."
Advocates for people with autism spectrum disorders said Seinfeld's revelation could help destigmatize the condition by sending a positive message that sufferers are more numerous and diverse than many people believe.
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To view a complete report on Jerry Seinfeld’s autism disclosure and other health news, tune in Saturday, Nov. 15, at 7 and 11 a.m. (EST) to Newsmax TV’s Meet the Doctors program, at NewsmaxTV.com, or DIRECTV Ch. 349 and DISH Ch. 223.
Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Advocacy Network, said there is still a tremendous amount of stigma surrounding autism that hinders the opportunities available to those with the condition.
"Think about what this does for a closeted autistic person who goes into the workplace knowing that their co-workers have just seen somebody they know, respect, and have a positive opinion of, like Jerry Seinfeld, identify in this way — it’s a valuable and important step in building a greater tolerance for autism," Ne’eman told NBC.
Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks, added that many people on the autism spectrum can relate to Jerry’s comments about his own experiences.But Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, cautioned that Seinfeld's comments run the risk of oversimplifying autism disorder, noting some people with the condition require near-constant care and attention.
"We have to continue to make people aware of what the spectrum of autism is," said Tonia Ferguson of the Autism Society.
But many say Seinfeld’s revelation is major step toward destigmatizing mental-health conditions — ranging from autism, to depression and Alzheimer’s — that strike millions of Americans and their families.
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