It’s widely believed that autistic folks have trouble detecting sarcasm and irony. This is in fact true for a lot of people.
However, something else is also true.
People lie about sarcasm and irony. Sometimes people say something they really did mean, and then after the fact claim not to have meant it.
Despite having meant it, they might say things like:
- I was just joking
- I was just being sarcastic
- I was just being ironic
- Of course I didn’t *mean* that
There are several reasons people might do this, including but not limited to:
- After the fact, they regretted what they said and want to pretend they didn’t say it (sometimes for benign reasons – people do speak without thinking and then realize that what they said is something they don’t want to have said)
- They realize that they don’t actually want to discuss that topic with you, and are trying to close the subject so they won’t have to
- They are afraid of looking stupid, and they think you consider what they said stupid, so they want you to think they don’t mean it
- They said a bigoted or otherwise messed-up thing and don’t want to take responsibility for having done so (so they pretend it was a joke in some way)
- They are intentionally messing with you and want to confuse you
So, if you’re often told that you don’t understand sarcasm/irony/humor, it might be true. But it also might mean that you *do* understand what people are saying, and that they’re falsely claiming to be sarcastic/ironic/joking when they don’t like how you react to what they say.
Some things to consider:
- Do you understand irony/humor/sarcasm some of the time, but not other times? Is there a pattern you can detect?
- Do you understand humor/irony/sarcasm about some topics, but not others? Are the topics you don’t understand irony/sarcasm/humor topics that people say obviously intentionally hurtful things to you about? (If so, it’s likely that at least some of the sarcasm you’re failing to detect actually *is* meant literally).
- Are there particular people whose irony/sarcasm/humor you consistently fail to detect, even though you understand it in others? If so, it’s worth watching carefully and examining the content to see if it’s actually irony/sarcasm/humor. It may be the case that you just find some people more confusing than others, but it’s also likely that you actually *do* understand what this person is saying and they just wish you didn’t.