Remember Ellie Mae on “The Beverly Hillbillies?” She was portrayed by Donna Douglas, in her day considered one of the most beautiful women on television. But she also once played a character who wasn’t so beautiful.
In an episode of “The Twilight Zone” titled, “Eye of the Beholder,” Douglas portrayed a woman who was so ugly, she underwent an operation to make her less so. The suspense was built up by the fact that we never saw her face until the bandages around them were removed. When they were removed, they revealed her to be the strikingly beautiful woman she was, but the doctor recoiled in horror and said, “No change, no change at all.”
At that point, we saw the faces of the doctors and nurses around her, which were all distorted and misshapen in grotesque fashion. In the end, she’s sent to live in a colony with similarly “ugly” people, and accompanied by a handsome male escort. She asks him, “Why are some of us born so ugly?”
Obviously, her character was not inherently ugly, but she was simply born in the wrong world. That’s a dilemma similar to that which the Aspie faces.
No, the Aspie doesn’t look any different from anyone else, but his brain is most definitely different, and certainly, so is his perspective. However, some see this difference as a defect, and try to “fix” it. But attempting to do so is futile, because he is how he is, and trying to make him something he’s not sets you up for failure. In another world, the Aspie might well function “normally.”
The point here is, there is nothing inherently wrong with a person who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Being an Aspie will often cause him problems in dealing with the world the way it is, but he should never be made to feel, as Pink would say, “Less than perfect.”
Just as Donna Douglass’ character may have had talents and abilities that were overlooked due to her outward appearance, the Aspie may have gifts that get overlooked due to his “inward appearance,” or how he comes across to others. But Aspies, not to mention society, can benefit greatly if they are accepted on their own terms.
By Ken Kellam
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