I have been reading with vested interest the fact that 52-year-old Daryl Hannah came out of a spectrum colored closet (not that she’s gay, I wouldn’t know that), but she says she has been diagnosed with autism since childhood. Instead of greeted with open arms and celebration, she is greeted with speculation, doubt, and down-right nastiness. People proclaiming to work with children, have children, and know children with really, real autism say there is no way Daryl Hannah could have autism. I would like to know how they would know? Do you live with Daryl Hannah that would give you expertise on what she is like outside of the Hollywood roles she has? Are you privy to her personal life?
Those questions bring up another question, why do people care? And furthermore, why is it when a woman says she has autism, it is met with ultimate skepticism, yet when a man says he has autism it is embraced and expected. Women with autism have different symptoms. Women with autism also adapt better to their environments, so they appear to be functioning better than their male counterparts. And not everyone with autism has severe autism! I get the benefit of raising a child with autism and having autism myself. I know in my hear of hearts I have it– I also have it confirmed by three doctors, but that does not preclude me from seeing the negative side of being a woman with autism.
I feel that I have to constantly prove that I have autism. So I ask how many Neurotypicals do you know that had to be carried to the car during rain storms at the age of 14, because they did not like the look, the feel, or the existence of earthworms? How many children at the age of 5 made a city move the tornado siren to a completely different location due to meltdowns whenever it went off when she was in school? How many young officers in the military went into a 30 minute diatribe how we should all run or bike to work on 9/11 to bypass the traffic nightmare at a staff meeting? How many military officers that you work for do you have to repeat instructions not once, or twice, but 7-8 times, because they don’t understand the instructions the first time? How many people do you know who pace back and forth when they get overwhelmed? How many people do you know have to run 60-90 minutes every single day just to get sensory input (and if they don’t run that 60-90 minutes every day, they pace for twice that long)? How many people do you know have a set of mardi gras beads in her purse, that when she gets incredibly stressed or destressed she goes in the bathroom and watches them as they spin around her hands? In 37-years I have become an expert at hiding my symptoms and avoiding anyone knowing, I’m sure Daryl Hannah has done the same. So why is it so surprising, alarming, and an intensely debated fact she has autism? If she said she had breast cancer, would every one jump down her throat and tell her that she’s a liar? Where were the naysayers when Angelina got her boobs removed? It certainly boosted her acting career to have elective surgery, and everyone was so supportive? Where is Daryl Hannah’s support?