Tag Archives: laughter

When Awareness Harms

Let’s talk about needing green minds, eager thinking, waiting for butter to spread onto toast.  Let’s talk about excitable pink ideas, ah-ha moments of lovely surprise filling the cavernous space of other understanding.  Now we can behave differently.

None of wisdom’s stars ached for commonly held beliefs without questioning them all.

Have you asked yourself whether the awareness campaigns are helping?

What exactly have they made you aware of?

Does your newly found awareness help you understand an Autistic person?

How so?

What about Autistic neurology?

Do you believe you understand what the brightest minds in the world admit they are baffled by?

How about treating Autistic people the way you would hope to be treated?

I vote for love and laughter.

Laughing in Red

Laughing in Red

“What We Attach Ourselves to When We are Most Afraid”

Emma typed that she wanted to write – “How about a story about what we attach ourselves to when we are most afraid.” 

“In no particular place that anyone has ever heard of, there lived a girl who was friendly and loved to laugh.  She had a body like any other girl her age, but it moved in ways that were unusual.  This caused people to stare and even made some think that she wanted their mean looks and comments.

“Do you know anyone who likes to be the focus of such hurtful and nasty attention?

“No.  I do not think anyone enjoys being made fun of.

“The fun is a question I do not have an answer to.  Laughter is pure when it hurts no one.”

By Emma Zurcher-Long

August, 2014

August, 2014

Confessions From a Literal Mind

My husband is funny.  Just had to say that.  He’s a funny guy and sometimes he’s funny without meaning to be, which throws him out of funny territory and plops him directly into the hilarious camp.  Some people are like that.  Thankfully, my two kids are also funny/hilarious so there’s a great deal of laughter in our home.  Until my husband or son tells a joke.  Me and Em don’t do the joke thing, mostly because Em is more into making faces and physical comedy and I don’t “get” most jokes (I’m told this is because I tend toward literal-mindedness) and even when I do, I usually do not think they’re funny, which makes others insist that I haven’t “gotten” the joke, because, the thinking goes, if I did, I’d laugh with everyone else.  I disagree and maintain that it’s a bad joke, but this argument never goes over well, particularly to the joke teller, who’s convinced the joke they’re telling is, by the very fact that they’re telling it, hilarious.  Even if it isn’t. And it isn’t.  Trust me.

Case in point, and this is one of Richard’s favorite jokes, whenever we travel.

Random person:  “How are you?”

Richard:  “We just flew in from New York…” Beat “and boy are my arms tired.”

Me:  expressionless face.  

Richard:  Looks over at me, sees expressionless face and says, “Ba-doom, boom!”

Random person:  Doubled over with laughter, “Oh boy I haven’t heard that one in a while.”

Me:  Look of confusion.  “Wait, what?”  Watches laughing husband and random person.  “What’s the punch line?”

Random person and husband:  As though choreographed, swivel their heads to face me, look at each other, then burst into peels of renewed laughter.

Me:  View of my back as I walk away…  Sometimes I’ll shake my head in an exaggerated display of my (feigned) contempt.

So I have a confession, because… well why not confess these things (?) I’ve nothing to hide…  I do “get” the joke, intellectually, I understand the play on words, I just don’t feel anything remotely like laughter surging through my body because of those words and truthfully, that joke, in my opinion, as well as most others like it are “made” funny with a straight man.  So I, being the thoughtful and generous soul that I am, feel obligated to provide this.

You’re welcome.  *Big grin*

Signed:  “Straight man” aka Ariane

Laura B., Barb P., Emma (ever the performer) and Me (trying hard to keep a straight face)


Chest Hair, Zombies and Laughter

A friend of mine in describing a man we both knew who had a surprising amount of chest hair, so much that it resembled ivy growing up a trellis and a love of wearing white tank tops, exclaimed, “He looks like a chia pet in a wife beater!”  It was one of those moments when I laughed, the kind of laughter where you are actually doubled over, gasping for breath, that kind of laughter.  Those words were said to me over 15 years ago now, yet I still remember it as though it were yesterday.  I know, it’s not nice to make fun of people, but these are tough times, calling for tough measures.  I’m on the front lines here, so this morning I decided to pull out the big guns.

Can we all agree?  This is nothing short of hilarious.  I don’t know which is more troubling, the fact that Donald Trump has insisted on wearing his hair this way for decades or the fact that I felt the need to actually go on the internet and download this photograph.  Like I said, these are desperate times, requiring desperate measures.  And might I just add?  This man has done me a tremendous service.  I cannot look at this photograph and feel sad at the same time.  It simply is not possible.

Yesterday, while talking to Richard, I disagreed with him.  (It doesn’t matter about what, and anyway I can’t remember.)  He began to argue with me about why I was incorrect.  I then raised my voice and accused him of going “global” and that this was a specific comment, not a broader condemnation of everything he’d just said.  Richard looked at me with a look of annoyance mixed with amusement and then gave me the finger.  He held it there, about four inches from my nose.  “Get that thing out of my face or I’m going to bite it,” I said.  But he didn’t move his finger for a few seconds, just to get his point across.  I looked over at him and then we began laughing.  Because really, what else can one do?

I don’t pretend to know how Emma experiences the world.  I cannot speak for her.  I can barely speak for myself.  But I am grateful that she, too, finds arbitrary and seemingly random things funny – like zombies and Winnie the Pooh and her friends Charlie and Gabriel and Justus from her school.  I am thankful for those things and the people who make her laugh.

“Who’s the best girl in the whole world?” I asked her this morning when she came into our bed and snuggled up against me.

“I am!” she shouted.

Yes, she is.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   Emma’s Hope Book


I used to believe I could cure Emma.  I used to believe if I just looked hard enough I would find the thing that would take her autism away.  I read the memoirs by parents who, through various bio-medical or behavioral interventions had “recovered” kids, I avoided reading the memoirs by parents who did not.  I used to believe that by force of will, hard work, focus, dedication and diligence I too would one day have a daughter who had gained membership to that exclusive club of “recovered children.”

I no longer believe that.  However that does not mean she cannot be helped.  Emma can grow, learn and progress as we all can.  It just takes her much, much longer and requires a great deal more support.

Emma has a stomach bug in addition to her other ailments.  She was up on and off all night.  Her ears are bothering her, her stomach hurts, her bowels are sluggish and blocked and despite all of this, despite having just thrown up what little food she ate for breakfast, she is cheerful.  “Belly go bang bang,” she said, before turning on Michael Jackson’s Beat It.

Belly go bang-bang is what Emma calls the sensation she feels before she throws up.  It’s an apt description.  Right now she is singing to MJ’s incomprehensible lyrics and dancing.  It’s a muted version of her usual singing and dancing, but given how uncomfortable she must feel, it’s admirable.

As we lurched through traffic yesterday morning, headed for the emergency room with Emma, Richard said, “Well, you couldn’t accuse us of having boring lives.”

No, you really couldn’t.  And then for some reason I thought of Donald Trump’s hair.  Why this arbitrary and completely ridiculous image came to mind, I have no idea.  But it made me smile.  His wacky, and timeless, I might add, hairstyle is one of a number of constants in life that make me laugh.  I’m grateful for that.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   Emma’s Hope Book.