Don Davis

On the Quirkiness of Autism, or: Best. Story. Ever.

Filed By Don Davis | May 16, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: autism, comedy, humorous blog post, Reality, Religion, religious faith, secondhand tale

To protect the innocent we'll leave out all the names, but suffice it to say that this story takes us to the intersection of religious evangelism, childlike innocence, and the idiosyncratic nature of autism.

Some of you are going to think I made this up, but I promise, this is an actual, true, "really, honest, it really happened" story, and every word is as accurate as it could be, considering that it was a tale told second-hand.

And with all that having been said, let's go to Spokane, where our story has been waiting for us.

"Nec dues intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus Inciderit."

(Neither should a god intervene, unless a knot falls worthy of his interference)

--Quintus Horatius Flaccus, "De Arte Poetica", as translated by Dr. E.C. Wickham

So our friend's daughter knows a family who has an adult autistic son living at home...and he's absolutely fascinated by those little troll dolls with which we're all familiar.

He stays at home alone during the day while Mom goes to work, and that's how we get to the beginning of the story.

During the work day Mom gets a call, there on the job, and it's her son, and he's all excited:

"I got a troll, Mom...I got a troll!" he's telling her, and she's taking it in, but as I understand it, she was basically thinking "Well, whatever...."

At the end of the day, she came home, and he's really animated, jumping up and down and talking excitedly about his new troll.

Mom asks to see the troll, and he takes her to his bedroom. In front of the closet door is his dresser, and he moves it out of the way, and he opens the door...and inside... a little person -- and he is some kind of pissed.

Apparently this poor guy had come to the door as part of his efforts to spread the Word of the Lord, and the autistic son had literally, without a word of warning, snatched him off the porch and ran him upstairs; presumably hoping he would be able to talk Mom into letting him keep what he obviously perceived as his own real live troll.

(Just for the record, we could not determine if he was a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses or a follower of the Latter Day Saints or if he had some other religious affiliation.)

It apparently took a lot of explaining, but Mom was able to communicate to the evangelist that the son was not acting maliciously, and that it was a cognitive issue that was in play here, so all's well that ends well, I guess.

But think about this for a second: if you came to someone's front door, all anxious to spread the Word about your version of The Truth...and the next thing you know you're sitting in a tiny, tiny, space, unsure exactly what happened or how you came to be there...unsure about how long all this will last...and really unsure about what's to come when your stay in the closet is whom, exactly, would you be praying?

Obviously, for some, this would be a test of faith, and they would come through with flying colors--but for a lot of other people, including me... well, I might be considering the potential of new religious options... sitting there, alone, in the dark, in that little closet.

So that's my weekend story, folks: an amazingly strange situation, the opportunity to see if you can actually be forgiving enough to match the philosophical bent of your own deity, and, at least for one person involved, a chance to reconsider the old Texas saying: "dance with who brung ya".

Now for next week, we have something really unusual: did you know the US Navy has been depositing nuclear-powered telephone-tapping tape recorders on the ocean floor for about three decades now...and that it may still be going on?

In between now and then: there are tax breaks that small businesses could really use that are available today, but not well known, as I discovered when I was talking to my friend who owns a small business. I'll pass that information on to you, and with any luck, your favorite small business owner will be thanking you, too.

UPDATE - May 16th, 11PM: Over the past 24 hours there have been a number of comments on the various sites where this story is posted pointing out that this is a well-known "urban legend", which is something I should have known about in the first place.

This story came to me from a friend of mine, and before I put pen to paper calls were made to get more details. Even this morning she maintains that what she told me is accurate

That said, I no longer have enough confidence in this story to continue to present it as accurate.

I have suspended the distribution of this story, and where it does appear, it carries this update.

So, my bad, and I should not have been taken in so easily, and, as you can imagine, I'm looking to do better in the future.

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Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 16, 2010 3:14 PM

Personally, I could certainly be forgiving if somebody did something like to me not out of malice but out of a cognitive disorder and, surprise, surprise! I am anti-theist. Now I know that the conventional wisdom states that one can't be forgiving or have any sort of moral code without belief in some deity or other but I'm here to tell you that's crap.

I got a smile out of the story though. Thanks. :-)

i am highly confident that the folks who are promoting the idea that only through religion can one find morality are folks in the religion business...and that's a bit like a car salesman telling me that the "zipcar" is the enemy of capitalism.

heard it from a friend of a friend?? doesn't sound a bit urban-legendy to you?, people!!

oh, i was suspicious...and in fact, i've made two calls now to my source to recomfirm that it really happened...which she has done...and she's been sticking to her story...and i'm still suspicious, having seen comments like yours on this site and kos, and having seen the snopes page.

but even as of this morning, she still swears it's true.

Sorrry, to say these are real cases, because the court records are public documents. This list grows longer each week it seems.
Twelves + 73 we do not know the names of the perps, just the victims.
FROM JoeMyGod. This Week In Holy Crimes

i actually could not find any records of a court case associated with this kind of story...something i should have done up front...but i did find this very interesting story about a controversial chinese amusement park that is using dwarves as an attraction.

when you watch the video, keep in mind that many chinese factories are similar in concept to what you're seeing here; by that i mean that the concept of living in a dormatory, permanently, on the worksite is quite common.

washing clothes by hand is common in china as well.

Shouldn't this whole post have been filed on April 1st?

i prefer "self-invented" april fools' stories, and while this year's story did have a religious theme, it wasn't this theme.

According to this IS most likely an urban legend, as there are several variations of it floating around the web. Anything that begins: "our friend's daughter knows a family . . . " usually is a myth.


i'm gonna take a lot of abuse on this one, much of it well-deserved, but i really did make multiple "recheck" calls to the woman who was the source on this, and even as of this morning she continues to maintain that it really did happen as she tells it.

now we have been friends for years--to the point that we spend thanksgiving together--so i will have lots of chances to return the favor...particularly since i cook that thanksgiving dinner...and i will probably use the occasion to have some fun at her expense as well.

I am terribly offended by autistic jokes and funny incidents. I have autistic friends. This is a topic that even a retiring Hoosier Senator wouldn't joke about. And do you have any idea how sensitive religious dwarfs are to such incidents and stories? Don how could you?

i'll tell you what...take a quick visit to the posting of this same story at the daily kos site, and have a look at the comments there, and see if you don't have a different view of things after that.

as i have said a couple of times here already, this was presented to me as a real story by a friend of mine, and she continues, even as of this morning, to maintain that it really happened.

there is no attempt here to insult the fact, if anyone's being made fun of here, it's probably god, and i'm ok with that.

Re: Bugs on sea beds.

Yes I did know. I've worked with submarines, remember.

The unclass parts are even in a book. Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage. I can neither confirm nor deny etc etc its accuracy, as either I don't know, or if I did know, couldn't say.

that book is probably the premiere source of information on inductive cable tapping operations, and i will be referencing it in the story.

there are also a substantial number of other sources that have been useful, including crew association websites and, surprisingly, the site.

there is a second story associated with fiber optic cable operations that is not really addressed in "blind man's bluff" that we'll touch on as well.

i should also mention that i had to read this twice before it made complete sense; this because i recently posted a story about giant isopods on the sea floor, and i wasn't sure if you were referring to those "bugs" or the nuclear-powered tape recording kind.

How interesting.

this story really surprised me as well, not so much for the fact that bugging was occurring, but because of the effort and challenges required to recover the recorded data.

A friend of mine got a phone call while sitting on my couch the other night. On the other end was a friend of his (not a mutual friend) who was calling to tell him the same exact story. Of course, it hadn't happened to her, it happened to her friend's friend or some such.

I thought it was funny though, that you told the same story from one of your friends about two days later. I was suspicious before, but hearing it from you too confirmed it.

Sorry you got sucked into repeating it. It happens to all of us eventually. Thanks for updating the post after you realized what was going on.

even today, our friend continues to swear this is a true story--and she's kind of upset that her tale is being called into question.

that said, this is the second time in four years i've had to write a correction story, and with any luck, i'll learn from the experience.

gregorybrown | May 17, 2010 11:19 AM

At risk of sounding prejudiced: I doubt that the LDS would EVER send someone who might be mistaken for a troll on mission. Besides, those lads travel in pairs, the way nuns used to do.

all things considered, it may be a bit of a moot point, but i suspect you're right.

Sheila Coats | May 17, 2010 1:01 PM

I don't know, but I deal with Autistic kids all day and different types of Autisism. I have not known one who would do what you say. Please, do not spread false rumors.

this was presented to me by a close friend, and she is absolutely adamant that the story really happened...even today, after all of this has come to light...and that's why i posted the story in the first place.

now obviously that was not a good enough fact-checking process, and we will do better, but that's how the story came to be published.

hey...i blew it, and if i want to be true to our readers i gotta be willing to admit when i screw one up.

the next story involves fact-checking with the irs...and how's that from jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire?