Is Spongebob Autistic?

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So something that's been tossed around on this site before is a quote from Tom Kenny saying that Spongebob is "a little bit autistic." He was saying that, apparently, in response to discovering that for whatever reason, something about his character is inherently appealing to those on the spectrum.

If you dig a little deeper than that, it's actually kind of interesting. Not in the "creepy conspiracy" sense, but because the idea of Spongebob being on the spectrum is surprisingly plausible, and seems to fit perfectly with everything that's been established about his character.

Spongebob is basically a walking DSMMV textbook list for all of the traits of high-functioning autism/Asperger's Syndrome.

1) Can't Read Social Cues

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=98MuUpA0Etz4913AzSxo87d5DnxViw0TS5urHe3ltz4%3D

This is probably the most obvious. Spongebob can't read social cues very well. It's hard for the guy to know when he's bothering someone, and he's not very good at reading the emotions of others. A lot of the comedy from the show derives from the fact that he doesn't know that he's annoying.

2) Meltdowns

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=3803Nd6ey7y%2FsD2z12iWNnqhvYX9aNHTwseSvilYRQI%3D

Not necessarily a requirement for a diagnosis but it's a very common trait with autistic people to have meltdowns over relatively minor things, and to not handle their own emotions well. We've seen Spongebob, countless times, freak out over fairly petty things. Most of the time it's played for comedy, but for certain people (autistic or not) it can be relatable at times.

3) Takes Things Very Literally

People with autism often have trouble understanding figurative/metaphorical language, including expressions/sarcasm. This is something we've seen with Spongebob before. Remember when he and Squidward went on strike, and Squidward told him that they would "dismantle the oppressive establishment?" Spongebob interpreted "dismantle the establishment" as "destroy the building." So he did.

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=9Rhd36LvpCLk9zQDVbjr4uq7X%2BvC4IjsHrcCAPmXV60%3D


4) "Special Interest"

Most autistic people have one certain area of extreme knowledge/expertise that they refer to as a "special interest." Something that they feel extreme, almost obsessive, passion for. It's not hard to see that Spongebob's is his love of fry-cooking. Fortunately for him, that's also his job, and he's probably the happiest workaholic ever shown on television.

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=6j5F8RpUlzDOZpurDZBs3EyHJQMmi2rLUMfM%2Fgk1piY%3D


5) Sarcasm-Blind

A lot of autistic people have trouble with understanding sarcasm. Ties into figurative/metaphorical language. One common running gag in the show is Squidward making a snide, sarcastic remark to Spongebob, who takes it at face-value. One instance of this is in "Employee of the Month," when Spongebob thinks that "Annoy Squidward Day" refers to a date on his calendar, rather than him annoying Squidward at that particular time.

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=wMyRsytXkG3oEnRtpSDs48IjzXRS%2B8FfjZN1fiiIsvE%3D


There are other traits of autism, stereotypical or not, that Spongebob exhibits. Those include near-photographic memory (though his short-term memory is limited,) excellence in math, and artistic skills.

He's able to perform complicated math in his head, within seconds, was voted "most clumsy" in high school, and is something of an artistic protegee.

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=EVsq%2ByvBNKys1Ht8amIn9QsqujCQCIOg6nLZhIUi7Jc%3D

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=TAAFaPbUCAd%2BCsJgh8G7rAAvNcIq8Wu5tUewJllGfmw%3D

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=B%2Fe6ao70ijfFpvdt6Bj3UmH3LCR0O%2BoWRtP%2B32W0WfY%3D

Just some food for thought. This is a fan theory that not only fits perfectly with previously established canon, but it's also somewhat supported by Spongebob's voice actor, Tom Kenny. Even if it's not 100% canon it's still pretty interesting.

Then again, this is a show in which fire can exist underwater unless its logic is immediately questioned at the time, so perhaps we'll never know for certain.

http://www.sbmania.net/pictures.php?img=vVSqy8eSj1blKzVveEEtFia4FckzDGeS1rwh2Fj%2FA0k%3D

I'm looking forward to seeing what DadMomAngryPants and PieGuyRulz say about this.
 

MasiHosseini

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It's not DadMomAngryPants or PieGuyRulz, but it's me again.

I made a similar topic about this a time ago:http://www.sbmania.net/forums/topic/35885-asperger-syndrome/

It's pretty fascinating. My observation regarding Spongebob and the possibility being on the ::dolphin noise:: (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kinda changed. I think he has a lot of autistic traits, but not enough to be classified as "autistic." He's pretty close to the condition if you read the symptoms in the DSM (Diagnostical and Statistical of Manual Mental Disorders).
 
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MasiHosseini said:
It's not DadMomAngryPants or PieGuyRulz, but it's me again.

I made a similar topic about this a time ago:http://www.sbmania.net/forums/topic/35885-asperger-syndrome/

It's pretty fascinating. My observation regarding Spongebob and the possibility being on the ::dolphin noise:: (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kinda changed. I think he has a lot of autistic traits, but not enough to be classified as "autistic." He's pretty close to the condition if you read the symptoms in the DSM (Diagnostical and Statistical of Manual Mental Disorders).
I think it could go either way honestly. If it was 100% confirmed by someone higher up than Tom Kenny, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised. If it wasn't, it would still remain a really plausible theory.
 

CaptainJZH

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As someone with Asperger's, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. If I recall correctly, a diagnosis with Asperger's requires two social symptoms and one behavioral or interest-related symptom. Spongebob more than qualifies.
 
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CaptainJZH said:
As someone with Asperger's, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. If I recall correctly, a diagnosis with Asperger's requires two social symptoms and one behavioral or interest-related symptom. Spongebob more than qualifies.
Absolutely
inb4 a non-autistic person complains about how this theory is offensive to autistic people
 

MasiHosseini

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I don't have autism or something, but i find this fascinating. Some people say the same about Patrick.
 

PinkPearl

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This is really interesting. Although I can only hope that when Tom Kenny said that the little square dude was "a little bit autistic," he was using the term correctly and not just using the word "autistic" lightly, if you know what I mean. But your evidence for SpongeBob being autistic is pretty convincing.
 

DadMom AngryPants

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Like I said in that other thread I don't actually think he's autistic, but there's no doubt he does things that people on the autism spectrum will be able to identify with. There seems to be an unusually high proportion of members on SBM with Asperger's etc, though whether that's because SpongeBob's personality subconsciously resonates with them or some other reason I have no idea.

I think an obvious explanation for many of these traits that would be considered autistic in the real world is mainly just that SpongeBob is a kid/adult hybrid. A lot of his social inappropriateness and emotional vulnerability is like that of a young child's. So when he doesn't recognize boundaries, can't tie his shoelaces or falls apart over something minor, that's just the “child” part of “man-child” as opposed to a developmental disability. Add to that a bunch of other miscellaneous character traits and Hillenburg accidentally hit most of the symptoms for ASD.

Signed: Mr. Dr. Professor DadMom
 

Flabby Patty

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Big Meaty Claws said:
Even if this isn't true, it's a really well-thought out theory.

:fred:
Yeah, it's still nice.

I was just trying to make a little joke for the heck of it. Not meaning anything to the inhabitants of here.
 

CaptainJZH

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BatteryMill said:
Nope, but you are. For taking this professionally.
I'm going to assume that you meant to say "For talking this professionally" In that case, I, someone who was actually diagnosed with Asperger's, don't find it offensive. Aspies have had the nickname "Little Professors" for a reason. Due to their tendency to have a massive knowledge of a specific topic (or even many topics), talking with one about their interests sometimes is like talking to a college professor about their subject matter. THAT BEING SAID, I didn't really find this funny. Not because it's offensive to me, but because it doesn't make sense in relation to the post it's replying to. Also, it may be offensive to other people, since just because one Autistic person is okay with it, doesn't mean everyone is.
 

TheGreatWizard

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Im gonna take this at a scientific standpoint. Autism is a GENETIC disorder of communication. Keep the term Genetic in mind. As BabySmitty said above SpongeBob demonstrates all of the signs of having autistic symptoms. But hey this is scientific. So we need to take a look at his family tree.

We believe that SpongeBob has autism, which is inherited from his parents. It's possible his parents could have it or be carriers for the disorder, where they don't demonstrated the symptoms, but have the gene on a chromosome. Confused? Let me explain.

Is Spongebob has autism, they could his parents have it. This would explain the goofy behavior that happens when they rarely show up. If this is true then SpongeBob would have to have autism, because of how he inherits the genes from his parents. You also need to keep in mind of Spongebob's cousin Stanely. Stanley also exhibits the signs of autism, or a spectrum of autism. This further proves my point that SpongeBob is indeed autistic.

But wait! There's more. If Spongebob does indeed have autism, then his GRANDMOTHER, could also have it. We however know there are two exceptions. Blackjack, and Uncle Captain Blue, Blackjack has anger issues, and UCB has hearing problems. This would mean that the autism gene is in Spongebob direct family (biological parents) meaning that SB's grandfather married to his grandmother didn't have Autism, but carried it (or vice versa). Meaning that one of his parents has to have it, and the other parent carries it. This would give SpongeBob a chance to inherit Autism. If this chance happened, then that means he has two of the same Autism Gene, meaning that if he ever had kids, as long as the mother had a carrier or autism, then his kids could inherit the gene (possibly).

This theory is flawed because of lacking information on certain characters. But if you're reading this thanks for listening :D
-TGW
 

BrickSponge2015

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I could see this also being SB having a tiny bit of ADHD.
Only saying this because I have ADHD and some of this stuff is kinda like me. Not taking things literally or not understanding sarcasm but otherwise reminds me of myself.
 
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