Hans Asperger, in 1944, theorised that people with Asperger’s Syndrome do not have the propensity for humour, and that attempts at humour would turn out, at best, awkward, and at worst, hostile. In recent years, this musing has been proved to be only true in minority. While people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome can have difficulties with the subtleties of humour, this does not mean to say that having an ASD and having a sense of humour cannot mesh.
As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, learning various social ethos can be akin to learning a second language. You find yourself catching various things that would otherwise be taken for granted. Linguistics is something of a fascination for me, and has been for a long while. As such, I find a lot of humour in various aspects of language, and in particular puns and wordplay.
It’s very difficult to speak for everyone on the Autism Spectrum, and really, I can’t. What I have found, however, is that people with Asperger’s in particular do have a great capacity for sarcasm – if sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, then I’ve been living underground for years. The AS capacity for sarcasm is something that has been picked up even in popular culture, with Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory being a great example.
In summary, humour is something that comes less than naturally to people on the Autism Spectrum – it’s something that comes with a great deal of reflection, something learnt. Be funny to someone with Asperger’s, and chances are they’ll be funny back.
“These children often show a surprising sensitivity to the personality of the teacher. However difficult they are even under optimal conditions, they can be guided and taught, but only by those who give them true understanding & genuine affection, people who show kindness toward them & yes, humor.” Hans Asperger, 1944