• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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WHO DEFINITES NORMAL? Monsters: I Am Legend: The book was more sad than scary

After finishing, I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson, I’ve come to the conclusion I have a complete misunderstand of the horror genre. I am fascinated by monsters,and all my fictional stories include demons, ghosts, giants, and other supernatural creatures. I didn’t think I liked horror until I realized that I truly enjoy all things that give me the creeps. Weird, right?

What makes horror, horror? Me: Clearly, no idea. But, I am beginning to suspect that it is a highly individualized thing. What is horrific to one individual may not be to another. For me, I Am Legend, was not at all scary, but a very sad book—a look at the human condition, at a man trying to survive his own loneliness. The main character, Robert Neville may be physically fighting against vampires, but truly he is battling his own demons, his own monsters. I think what makes this book horror is that it is horrific to the main character as he realizes he has become the monster.

There was one line in particular that really caught my attention. And I think it is fitting to us as “normal” human beings, and those of us or may lie a little more on the outside of what society considers “normal.” Who decides what is normal anyway?

Robert Neville finds himself in a world filled with vampires —both dead ones, and living ones. Living ones, those who are infected with the vampire “germ” but have not yet died and rose as something else. Being the last of his “kind,” Robert realizes he is “…the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just one man.”

Granted, the fictional character is only one man—the last of his kind left. But this highlights an interesting concept, and one I think we are on the brink of in our own world. Normal, defined by the majority. However, when the minority (those of us considered “not normal” by their standards) swell to the numbers we see around the globe, when there are more people that defy the concept of normal, then a new normal or at least a sharp shift in perspective may just be over the horizon.

What is today’s autism rates? Much larger percentages than most would believe—it’s true. Everyone know seems to someone or have been touched in some way—or knows someone who has. Given the high percentages of late, and the strong genetic links—perhaps, we will be the norm someday in the future?

The world needs more brilliant minds, honest souls, caring hearts, and loving spirits—more “abnormal ones.” We could do with the vampire apocalypse, although, vampires do not scare me; people scare me.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.