Sheldon Cooper is no ordinary person. He is known for his quirky behavior, be it demanding to sit in his designated seat by saying, “That’s my spot!”, failing to understand innuendos, or constantly wearing his favorite red Flash t-shirt.
These traits and more have led fans to question if there’s a possibility that Sheldon is on the autism spectrum. But is there a definitive answer?
Sheldon Cooper is canonically not autistic in The Big Bang Theory as well as in Young Sheldon. Showrunners Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady have also clarified that Sheldon has no disorders and isn’t on the autism spectrum.
The Big Bang Theory has addressed this query several times with Sheldon negating that he is autistic with the answer, “My mother got me tested.” This statement is meant to prove that the tests were negative and that he has proof that he doesn’t have any disorder.
It’s undeniable that Sheldon’s quirks are quite unique, some of which may even come off as rude or unempathetic. One also has to consider that individuals with genius-level IQs can sometimes be socially awkward or inept to deal with emotional situations, like in Sheldon’s case.
With this in mind, the show has reflected Sheldon’s growth as well, showing how he has learned to be more comfortable in such situations. In fact, his long-standing friendship with Leonard, Penny, and the rest of the gang is testimony that he is genuinely a good friend to have around—which is why they “put up” with his behavior.
Fans Don’t Agree with Sheldon’s “Diagnosis”
Despite the show explaining these points, there’s a good chunk of fans who simply do not buy that Sheldon is not on the autism spectrum. They point out that his experiences of sensory overload, OCD, and social/emotional ineptitude are all associated with autism.
But why does labeling this matter? As explained on a Reddit thread, Sheldon is regularly made fun of because of his quirks.
If Sheldon was canonically autistic, making fun of his behavior would be highly insensitive and offensive. This is why fans think that the creators have purposely stated that Sheldon isn’t autistic, so that they are not held responsible for the jokes, and can continue banking on the lowball humor.
Whether or not that was the creators’ intention will remain unknown. However, it is worth looking into the reasons Sheldon himself would disagree with the diagnosis in the realm of TBBT and Young Sheldon’s storytelling universe.
To begin with, if Sheldon’s diagnosis was positive, he would never lie about it. He’s pragmatic and intelligent, which would ultimately lead him to understand that autism is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just another fact that he has to abide by as per his love for science.
According to another speculation, some fans think that Sheldon himself may not be aware of his true diagnosis, with his mom playing a part in this. Although Mary had taken Sheldon to get tested, it was depicted that she did not take him for further tests to a specialist.
It’s possible that Mary was afraid that if Sheldon was diagnosed with autism or any other “special” disorder, he would be bullied and made fun of even more than before. Considering these were the ’80s, it’s not hard to believe there would be a huge stigma around these issues.
In such a scenario, Mary could’ve avoided the further tests to save Sheldon from being a victim of prejudice. However, this is just another in-universe theory independent of what the creators intended for the character.
All said and done, Sheldon Cooper is not on the autism spectrum, as far as the canon goes.
About Young Sheldon
Young Sheldon is an American sitcom series for CBS, a spin-off of Big Bang Theory. It is created by Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro.
It is set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, following the character Sheldon Cooper from the age of nine, going to high school. Iain Armitage plays young Sheldon, joined by Zoe Perry and Lance Barber as Mrs and Mr Cooper, and Montana Jordan and Raegan Revord as siblings Georgie and Missy respectively.
Jim Parsons, who stars as the adult Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, narrates the series, also serving as an executive producer.