In the second episode of season one, we see Sheldon break into Penny’s apartment in the middle of the night to clean. We later see Sheldon struggle with understanding sarcasm when Penny confronts Sheldon and Leonard about the incident.
Many episodes in the show depict Sheldon as a person who requires a high level of structure, organization, and cleanliness. While this episode is not the best example, it does give us a glimpse into the meticulous mind of Sheldon Cooper. Even in someone else’s home, Sheldon has to have things a certain way. Individuals with autism may demonstrate the same behavior. Some children may try to set up different play environments to match the environment they have set up in their own homes. Some individuals may even have comorbid disorders that create this issue. We will talk more about this as we get to better examples down the road.
Many individuals with autism struggle with sarcasm and facetiousness. Merriam-Webster defines sarcasm as “the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny.” Facetiousness, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “speech that is meant to be funny but that is usually regarded as annoying, silly, or not proper.” Individuals with autism often interpret the literal meaning of words and phrases, instead of picking up on social context clues of the conversation. This lack of social awareness diminishes their ability to tell the true intent of a person’s speech and respond accordingly. Although it might be funny in the show, it does not translate appropriate humor in the real world. Professionals and parents can help teach the understanding of sarcasm and facetiousness through various interventions, such as social skills training, scripting, and video modeling. In future episodes, we will discuss this topic further and examine the progress Sheldon makes in understanding sarcasm and facetiousness.
It has been mentioned a couple of times that better examples exist as we get further into the show. Season one is setting the stage, similar to what these early posts will do to more in-depth posts down the road. Stay tuned to more episodes published weekly as we dive deeper into the life of Dr. Sheldon Cooper.