Tuesday 1 May 2018

I love my son's laugh

Boy laughing

A laugh, a 'spontaneous sound and movement of the face and body that are an instinctive expression of lively amusement'.  Surely a good thing.  If you've got kids, do you remember the gorgeous feeling you had when your baby laughed?  Who remembers a time when they laughed so hard it hurt?  What if laughing out loud hurt you in a much worse way?

My son's 'spontaneous sound and movement' is a bit on the loud side.  Heck, he's always loud.  There are misconceptions that autistic people don't have a sense of humour.  Well, anyone who thinks this hasn't met my autistic son.  His favourite is classic slapstick.  Perhaps not unexpected, he's still not hit double figures.

But it's fair to say his laugh can be a bit wild.  To many it seems forced or rude possibly.  But to me it's wonderful. He didn't really get jokes when he was younger, and to be honest a lot of them still go over his head (not literally, I mean he doesn't understand them).  Laughing for him can be a very social thing - isn't it great when you're all laughing together. And his huge almost screeching laugh is always the loudest and tells me he gets it, he's happy, amused and joining in.

That was why I felt really sad after seeing something on social media yesterday. Reports on twitter were of a woman with Asperger's (that's a specific type of autism) laughing loudly in a cinema screening.  Some people complained, and she was escorted out.  Some people were reportedly rude to her on the way out.  There has since been reports in the media.

I cannot imagine how this woman must have felt.  Ashamed, horrified, apologetic?  All for her 'spontaneous sounds and movements of face and body that are instinctive expressions of lively amusement' to the film she was watching.

It's been reported that it was actually her favourite film, and 25th birthday.  I hope she is OK.

My son would have been absolutely gutted.  That's a laughing so hard it hurts no one wants.  Forget physical pain, he'd have been hurting so much inside.  There would have been uncontrollable sobs as he realised what was happening and why.  Self-esteem, confidence shattered and replaced by fear, disappointment or shame. I can't even think about it.

I hope that by the time my son is able to go to a screening by himself, people have become a bit more tolerant.  There is a real importance in a few autism friendly events such as screenings but this should be part of a societal shift in the perceptions of people with disabilities.  He has been that loud person in the cinema.  I wish that they could see his loud outburst of laughter for what it was.

Him finding something funny and for a little while understanding and being part of something like everyone else can.  Smile with him. I do, and it makes you feel so much better that way.

Why not read 'Five everyday places to understand autistic kids and their families' - much of which applies to autistic adults too!  Or take five to read about why it's OK and how I love my loud kids.  Not convinced?  Read my apology to those disturbed by my autistic kids in public places.


  1. Oh Ann the whole thing made me so angry!!! Where is the acceptance? I saw Tamsin Parker interviewed she is an inspirational woman and brilliant artist. Have you seen her film, Force of Habit? https://youtu.be/wvjcBek58gM We need to keep writing to raise acceptance and understanding for our kids. Keep up the great work lovely 💕 #BloggerClubUK

  2. It's almost hard to believe that the cinema thought it okay to have someone thrown out for laughing too much/too loud. How sad and so upsetting!!
    If people want to watch films in silence they can stay at home. My hubby always used to get annoyed when people coughed or whispered or hm... grunted (that was an uncomfortable experience to be honest 😬) in the seats around us when we went to the cinema. So we came to the conclusion that we were more comfy watching films at home. If you go to events where other people are involved you need to be tolerant about the fact that not everyone is the same as you. Grrr....
    And on a more joyful note: What a great post and such a lovely happy photo!! x #SpectrumSunday

  3. I felt so cross for that woman. Just as you think awareness is increasingly it shows that it’s just a word and not in actions. J has an amazing laugh and also has a fake laugh for when other people laugh but he doesn’t know why. That one always makes me laugh more haha x


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