Growing up with autism theater therapy was pivotal towards my development. Thanks to therapies like this, and a laser focus key interest, it has paved my career today as one of the few openly autistic professionally certified public speakers in the country and as an autism entertainment consultant. One of the shows I thoroughly enjoyed growing up and even till this day is Saturday Night Live (SNL) on NBC. Because of that, I was curious to see how billionaire Elon Musk would do during his first-time hosting SNL on May 8, 2021.
He did more than I was expecting.
During his monologue he said, “I’m the first person with Asperger’s to ever host Saturday Night Live.” I was live tweeting and mentioned that Dan Aykroyd, who revealed about his own Asperger diagnosis and was a cast member and writer for the show for years live hosted in 2003. I missed the part where he said, “or at least the first to admit it.”
My initial reaction was mixed if this reveal would lead to positive change within our autism community. Some questions I asked myself were…
Will he help with disability policy change?
Will he consider hiring talented autistic employees (the majority of autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed on the United States)
And will he use his money/influence to help support reliable autism supports across the lifespan for our community?
The next day I started researching a little on Elon to find out if he has any previous background in the autism community. I would learn about a controversy he had in the autism community when, in a podcast taping he said “So Neuralink (Elon Musk AI-brain-chips company) I think at first will solve a lot of brain-related diseases. So could be anything from, like, autism.”
For years in the neurodiversity movement, we have been asking for people to stop calling autism a disease as something that can be cured. Autism is a developmental disorder hence the acronym ASD which stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Could he have potentially slipped up by calling autism a brain-related disease? Perhaps. But you would think if he had he would have reiterated in a following statement.
While I was looking at the feedback online, I saw some say how seeing someone like Elon successful gives ‘hope’ for our autism community. I however also saw others mention that this will lead to more people without a personal connection to the autism community consider all autistic people as savants (i.e., Rain Man/The Good Doctor).
I guess only time will tell! What’s your take on the Elon reveal?
My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.