Friday, November 17, 2017

Is TV Giving Viewers an Accurate Portrayal of Autism?

Or is TV and Hollywood giving us a sugar-coated version of autism which is better suited to what entertainment executives think viewers want to watch? Let’s have a look.

There has been several movies and television shows released lately which have autism as the main theme. Atypical is currently airing on Netflix, and The Good Doctor is airing on the ABC network in the United States. For most people that have children or loved ones affected by autism, television isn’t portraying the accuracy of how life with autism can really be. There are focusing in on one or two character traits which people with autism have while neglecting to pay any attention to the rest of the issues.

For many people that watch television shows and movies, autism has come to represent verbal, higher-skilled, savants at the very end of the autism spectrum. Why? Because they make interesting characters and people like to watch television shows with interesting characters.

The main character in Atypical is Sam. Sam is a typical high school student with typical high school student problems like finding a girlfriend and being popular. Sam also has autism. The one thing not typical about Sam is that he doesn’t attend any special-education classrooms, or attend a special school. In The Good Doctor, Shaun the main character is a brilliant surgeon but doesn’t portray any of the other character traits of most people with autism.

It’s important for everyone to see a more balanced interpretation of autism in television and movies. Less of the savant, and more of the child that sits quietly home alone, or bangs his head because noises upset him. It’s important that people with autism on opposite ends of the scale get accurate representation and don’t fall away to become invisible. The reality of severe autism can be confronting. It isn’t always something nice, or pleasant. By highlighting only one aspect of autism, Hollywood is effectively turning the light away from other people with severe forms of autism. It’s important that awareness is raised across the entire autism spectrum.

If you enjoyed the article or would like to voice your opinion, then please comment below.

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