In a recent interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, comedian Jerry Seinfeld revealed that he believes he falls on the autism spectrum, citing his inability to function properly with basic human interaction.
Jerry spoke with Williams about his past and present comedy ventures before the conversation shifted toward something more serious. In the interview, Williams narrates that with age, Seinfeld is still finding himself, which includes his continuing education about autism and the disorders that fall within the spectrum.
“I think on a very drawn out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum,” Jerry explained.
When pressed by Williams on the subject, Jerry continued, “You’re never paying attention to the right things. 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 a dysfunctional, I just think of it as an alternate mindset.”
The revelation comes as a shock to those who watched Seinfeld rise to superstardom, as his self-titled show dominated television for nine seasons from 1989 to 1998. Sony Pictures Television began syndicating the series in 2002.
Others inside the autism community are praising Seinfeld for his words and are welcoming him with open arms as a potential face of the many disorders that fall within the autism spectrum. Advocates hope the comedian can help fight the stigma surrounding the disorder.
“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,” Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Advocacy Network, said to NBC News.
Autism Society President and CEO, Scott Badesch, has called Seinfeld “a wonderful person” who could set an example for those suffering from autism if he does in fact fall along the spectrum of the disorder. He said:
Recently, Jerry Seinfeld is suggesting he might be on the autism spectrum. For so many of us, Jerry has been an amazing person who has made us laugh and taught us many lessons about life.
He is a wonderful person and if he is in fact an individual on the spectrum, we are delighted that he will be an example for everyone to see the beauty, intelligence, skill, and everything else that defines so many who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism Speaks, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, shared the NBC interview on their Facebook page and applauded the comedian for his longtime advocacy work within the autism community.
“The autism spectrum is very broad, representing a diverse community of individuals with a range of talents as well as challenges. There are many people on the spectrum who can relate to Jerry’s heartfelt comments about his own experiences,” the page reads.
Seinfeld has been directing and starring and in a web series titled “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” The series features Jerry picking up fellow comedians in a vintage car and taking them for coffee. It first premiered in July, 2012 and was recently renewed for five more seasons.