Asperger’s, “The Twilight Zone,” and The Perception of Beauty

Societal definitions of "normal" and "beautiful"

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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Ken Kellam III was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in his late 30's, and has worked with Autism Treatment Center of Texas since 2003. He is currently the administrative assistant to the clinical director. He also helps facilitate three different self-advocate groups, and in the Spring of 2015 was presented with the "Angel Award" by the National Autism Association of North Texas for the works he has done with these groups. He has also done public speaking on the subject of autism/Asperger syndrome, and has spoken to various educational and parental groups. When not involved with autism, Ken has led the singing at the same church since 1988, and has also been the fill-in preacher at this same church. In 2006 he was called on to sing the National Anthem at the Autism Society of America's national convention in Dallas, and performed the same song at ATC's rodeo fundraiser. He also enjoys writing, and formerly wrote articles for a website dedicated to reality television. In 2011 he got married for the first time, and his wife Rachel works for ATC in Adult Services. Ken graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 1987 with a Bachelor's in Mass Communications, and once worked as a radio traffic reporter, interactive announcer and writer, and news producer in Dallas. He views Asperger's as a difference, not a defect, and has come to appreciate the positive aspect's of Asperger's.

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7 thoughts on “Asperger’s, “The Twilight Zone,” and The Perception of Beauty

  1. It is true that we aspires don’t need fixing. We need understanding. I am 72 and was diagnosed last December with Asperger Syndrome. It explains muchof my behaviour socially. I am blessed with a wife who has stayed with me thru the worse I could give her. I am a lucky aspie! We just need to be accepted for who we are.

  2. That is a great article! So true! Wish others would open their eyes and mind to understand that different doesn’t mean not beautiful, it just means different. Love this! I’m going to share!

  3. Thank you so much for this post and for the link to your newsletter. As the mother of an Aspergirl graduating from high school, and her autistic twin sister receiving vocational training, I am well aware of the joys and the challenges raising these uniquely abled individuals.Knowledge about and acceptance of, these individuals is key to their success in the mainstream world. Indeed, acceptance of all individuals, as we are all I her entry quirky and therefore unique, it’s something to strive for across the board. Thank you again for your post.

    • And thank you for your comments Tracey. Glad the article was meaningful to you, and best wishes with your daughters.

  4. Thank you for this “beautiful” article. It truly touched my son and I. My son was diagnosed early and we have been fortunate enough to work through a few of his “Qwerks. He recently graduated for college and is focusing on our Blog. If it is possible, I would love to post your article on our blog. Your story was an inspiration to Teddy and I. Sincerely, LuAnn