Cue: Hysterical Laughter

Both of our boys have had the hysterical laugh that can drive parents of autistics insane. There is something about it that grates on our last nerve.

When a laugh is not a laugh.

"How can you be upset about a laugh?" my mom asked incredulously. Because this is not laughter about happiness. This is laughter that goes on when others are angry and upset. When people get hurt and cry. When there is nothing funny going on. And when I try to stop it, it gets louder.

Mostly this seems to be about trying to perk oneself up. Nathan uses it when he is very tired. I tried it one day and it does help. Go ahead and try it yourself. I'll wait while you do.

There. Don't you feel just a little perkier? It only work for a minute or two. And so the laughter goes on and on. Nothing gets done. People stare.

And then, because it is a symptom of overwhelming emotions, it leads to...other things.

I do keep trying to understand why it triggers such a negative response in me. My mom (speak of the devil) has a tic of laughing whenever she gets in a fight. That really pisses me off. But I don't think that's the only reason.

Perhaps it is just that, like so many things about autism, it represents so much. So much lack of control. So much hidden under the surface. So much difference. So much intrusion into a simple thing like eating at a pizza parlor.

So much of an example that what is on the surface has no relation to what is going on underneath it all. It is like having a can label read pudding, and opening it to find spinach. Spinach might be good for you and give you strong muscles, but you can't make me like it.


  1. Great post. When my daughter gets over excited she laughs and laughs and can't stop and then everything gets out of hand and we end up with tears!


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