Glee Needs to Apologize to Autism Community for Recent Episode 22

I hope all of you will write to Fox: to request an apology from the writers of Glee.  They require the following: In order for us to quickly help you, would you be so kind as to email us with the following additional details:

Your City:

Your Fox Station:

Your Zip Code:

Actual Channel Tuned to:

Cable or Satellite or Antenna?:

–If cable or satellite, your provider?

Type of Set Top Box Used (Name and Model if available):

Are there other times when the problem happens (like during another show or during local news)?:

Here is my letter:

To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing because I have a sixteen year old daughter diagnosed with Asperger’s.  She was diagnosed when she was ten and experienced severe bullying at school in fifth grade.  She has never been initially rude to her teachers, she has near prefect pitch and she is unlikely to request any special privileges especially about something that would call attention to her.  Imagine my reaction to the most recent Glee episode where a character named Sugar, “self diagnosed” with Asperger’s, was rude to a teacher, demanding special privileges including the right to be rude to the teacher, and to join the Glee Club when she is unable to carry a tune.
My daughter recently left a school she loved and had attended for ten years due to an intolerant teacher not understanding how having Asperger’s and the long-term effects of bullying made one assignment impossible for her.  She is still trying to adjust to attending an on-line school.  She misses seeing her friends everyday and in case you are wondering, yes it is possible to have friends when you have Asperger’s.  Her friends are open-minded, caring, and wonderful people.
Imagine how seeing Asperger’s be the brunt of jokes would make my daughter and others feel.  I hope you can imagine and you will request the writers to offer a public apology for all the girls like my daughter who deserve so much more from a show that they love and that has previously shown tolerance for others.  Please help restore my faith in this show and in your network by responding.
Most sincerely,
Sue Kam

aka D. S. Walker
Delightfully Different Facebook Page
Twitter: @dswalkerauthor


  1. I’m sorry I think you’re being over sensitive. I have a few friends with aspergers, and you’re right, they don’t generally act like that. HOWEVER, there are many people who self diagnose themselves with aspergers, and DO act like that, and that is what the show is making fun of; people who self diagnose themselves with aspergers, and think it means they can get away with being rude, horrible people.

    • She is not being over sensitive, if 1% of self-diagnosed people do that it doesn’t mean anything for the rest. I don’t see those many people, I see that most are extremely caring sensitive self-diagnosed autistics, I do see a lot more of rude typical people.

      If it is self-diagnosed or not, asperger is asperger, the way you act doesn’t change, the way people see you after discrimination from the midia doesn’t change.

      Do you live in a perfect world were everyone has a lot of money to pay for a diagnosis, live in a country with information about asperger and live in places full with capable caring professionals with knowledge about ASD? I want to go there.

      • Alicia,
        Thank you for responding to this one! I agree with you that many who are self-diagnosed still have Asperger’s and are not rude.

        I previously addressed many of the things you discuss in response to a comment on another post I wrote about this. You can view it at:

        In case you or some of my other readers choose not to view it, I want to make two things clear. “Self-diagnosed” was only stated once by the character and when she mentioned the diagnosis later in that same show and again in the second episode, she only stated, “Aspergers,” not “self-diagnosed.”

        You and other Gleeks may watch every episode, but not everyone does; therefore it would be easy for someone to assume they are, in fact, talking about those with the diagnosis of Aspgerger’s. The other important thing to know is that my daughter was misdiagnosed twice before she had a three day evaluation by a neuropsychologist who diagnosed her.

        It takes much longer for girls to be diagnosed in the first place, and many of them are first misdiagnosed with ADHD and/ or more serious psychiatric diagnoses. I even have a friend who was not diagnosed until she was fifty. Girls are therefore vulnerable to being misunderstood. This makes them more vulnerable to bullying that can result in PTSD as well. The girls who bullied my daughter focused on those that they knew had been diagnosed with ADHD by a professional not by “self-diagnosis.”

  2. Here’s what I wrote to FOX:
    This week on Glee, a new character was introduced for a three story arc. Sugar, a teenager who has self-diagnosed Asperger Syndrome, believes she is allowed to say whatever she wants to anyone without regard to consequence, “almost like a diplomat’s daughter”. She then follows this announcement with the world’s worst performance while clearly believing herself to be spectacular. As the parent of a 16 year old daughter who has been professionally diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder since she was four years old, I must tell you how this joke character angered and insulted my child.

    We were watching Glee together, as we do each week, when Sugar was introduced. Ten seconds later, my 16 year old was weeping and shouting about how this is going to make her life worse. She was heading out the next evening to try out for the school play and was absolutely certain that everyone in Drama Club will have seen this character, compared it to my daughter, and decided that my daughter was also a joke. She is extremely socially anxious and this has played out over the years as her becoming completely withdrawn from her peers to the point of having no friends at all and going days on end speaking to no one. The students at school perceive her as as different, weird and unpredictable so they pretend she isn’t there. The social term for this is “neglect” or in some societies, “shunning”. For the most part, teens have no idea how to deal with the unexpected personality quirks which are a part of autistic spectrum disorder. In creating a character, “self diagnosed” as she may be, on the spectrum, Glee’s writers had the opportunity to approach it as gently as they did difficult issues such as homosexuality, pregnancy and physical disabilities. Instead, they decided that my daughter’s very real neurological disability is a joke. I can only tell you that from her perspective, that was a huge slap in the face and you’ve lost some viewers this week. I hope that the show’s writers have some plan to get themselves out of this ugly little hole they’ve dug for themselves. If not, they should apologize to the young adults in the autistic community for handling this issue so extremely insensitively.

  3. Hi Sue, I followed a link on twitter to read your blog. I also have a 16 yr old daughter on the spectrum and she was very insulted by this Sugar character on Glee. She says that she doesn’t tell anyone at school about her diagnosis because it would just give them ammunition to tease her. In fact, she is more than socially awkward, she’s socially crippled. Other kids don’t know how to deal with her, so they just pretend she isn’t there. Now, there’s Sugar – who makes my daughter’s difference a joke. I think it was very poorly played and I’d like to see how the writers dig themselves out of this hole.

    • Trish,
      I totally agree! My heart dropped when I realized how they were handling it. My daughter is fortunate to have friends, but life is still difficult and having any public forum make fun of girls with Asperger’s in anyway is totally unacceptable.

  4. Pingback: My (angry) thoughts on Glee’s Sugar » Life, post-epic.

  5. Thank you for posting the info for how to email fox! I retweeted and shared this info on facebook. I have already tweeted & posted on glee’s wall and blogged about it too so will happily send an email! My son is an adolescent aspie and we face this stigma all the time. I am constantly educating the teachers that this is not an excuse. I also agree with you that this show usually handles things so well so it was really a slap in the face.

    • Aspie Side,
      Exactly! My daughter knows that reasonable accommodations can be made when necessary, but Asperger’s is not a get out of jail free card and it certaintly is not an excuse to be rude to a teacher.

  6. Sue, I saw it and was really shocked. I don’t get it. Downs, physical handicaps, a pregnant teen, interfaith, inter-racial and homosexual relationships are all shown in a positive light. But, Asperger’s? No. And why? I don’t get it and it disappoints me because I’m a total gleek. Think you’ve inspired me to write them a note myself.

    • MBA Mommy,
      Yes, I was shocked too and so very disappointed. Then, I tried posting on their Facebook fan page to let them know and my comments were both deleted. That is why I had to blog, tweet, and e-mail them. I could not be a bystander who did nothing.

  7. Hi Sue–Sorry this show did this but do not watch this show. I am mainly a home and garden show person. Around here there has been a lot of talk about bullying and Philly is trying to do something about it in their schools as well s over here. Everytime I hear all this stuff I think of you and Miranda. I still do not totally understand Aspergers but no matter what you have no one should be bullied. I found out a few years ago that my oldest daughter spent two years of her elementary years with noone to play with. She would sit by herself at recess and if she approached a group she was shunned. Imagine how I felt when I heard that. She is 35 and fine today. She is a great mother and wife and most of all daughter to me. She is happily married and is a great teacher and watches out for the kids. There are all kinds of bullying. I pray that my grandchildren do not have to experience this.

    • Debbie,
      Thank you! I appreciate your support and I can tell how wonderful your daughter is by reading her posts on Facebook. I pray no one else has to experience bullying.

  8. I’m so sorry that your daughter and you have been upset by all this. I don’t know of this show. I don’t watch too much TV for this reason. I tend to just watch DVD’s and stick to YouTube channels that I trust. I know how once I watch things that upset me, they get stuck in my head and I loop on them for days.
    Prayers, love and hugs for you and yours.
    Lisa. xx 🙂

    • Lisa,
      Thank you! Your support means so much to me. The worst part is this show is known for their tolerance of others with differences.
      Hugs to you and yours,

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