Maria: Yeah well I think there’s definitely something to that because if you’re not always expressing the emotion you’re probably feeling it more deeply in some sense because you’re not giving it an outlet. I’ve never thought about it that way but I think that’s a really really good point. And he doesn’t have Asperger’s by the way, he can read people better than anyone else, and–
Amy: Yes, thank you!
Ardy: Thank you so much!
Maria: People who have Asperger’s can’t read social cues and have trouble reading people’s emotions. When Holmes comes into a room he can tell you who’s sleeping with whom for how long, and who likes whom and who doesn’t like whom and who’s lying and who’s not, I mean, who is a better reader of faces and of people than Sherlock Holmes? I don’t know of any.
Melinda: People on that spectrum wouldn’t be able to see Helen Stoner [Speckled Band] and just be immediately calm her down, they would exude this sort of like, “I am sympathetic to your cause I’m gonna take care of this.”
Maria: Yes! And, I mean, also note how kind he is, he never takes payment from people who can’t afford it, he’s really, even though he says he only takes the cases that challenge him, he’ll take a case when people appeal to him on a human level. And he’s the first one to give people a second chance and to be more sympathetic when Watson’s like “whoa, that guy’s a bastard, did you hear how he talked about her?” and Holmes is like “cut him some slack, Watson.”"
From the transcript of the Baker Street Babes interview with Maria Konnikova
Autistic person here, providing constructive criticism about something I see all too often regarding NT people who are Sherlockians/Holmesians, and NT people…
While I’m grateful that there weren’t any functioning dichotomy terms here; I have an issue with presumably all NT people (Maria being a psychologist) making generalizations about people on the Autistic Spectrum and flat out saying that Sherlock Holmes could not be on the spectrum. It’s disrespectful at best (not having anyone on the spectrum pipe into the conversation, as far as we’re aware). It’s deceitful at worst (Sherlock can’t be autistic because we say so, so you’re wrong if you think otherwise sort of mentality).
One: Quite a few people on the spectrum can read social cues. It might be difficult for us. It might take us a while to learn them (because seriously NT people you make some fucked up social guidelines), but quite a few of us can read social cues.
Two: Some people on the spectrum do have trouble reading people’s emotions, this part I have no issue with, though the general lumping all of us into one sum I have issue with.
Three: The huge problem I have is the language of it. The interviewers and Maria could have used better words to describe people on the spectrum, such as “some” or “a few”, when it comes to what our experiences as Autistic people may or may not be like. However, “people who have Asperger’s” and “people on that spectrum” assumes a generalization, a lumping of an entire group into one image. This is not helpful. We don’t all share the same experiences and difficulties.
Four: It is dangerous to immediately dismiss the possibility of Sherlock Holmes being autistic. Dangerous. This word I emphasize because there are some people on the spectrum (myself included) who do view him as autistic. The usage of language, the generalizing of autistic people, and the fact that they’re presumably NT and don’t have first hand personal experience of being autistic ties into this specific thing that I have this problem with. Again, different language would have been better, so then it wouldn’t read off as dismissive, but instead an opinion from someone who’s not autistic.
Example: “In my opinion, he’s probably not autistic. But, since I’m not autistic; I can’t automatically dismiss the possibility.”
Fifth: Last, and not least (not in a million years the least), they should have had someone autistic in their discussion (again, they didn’t, as far as I’m aware) because they were talking about Sherlock Holmes and if he was autistic. Who else could be a more worthy candidate to talk about that than someone who’s autistic AND a Sherlockian/Holmesian? Seriously.