I’m really excited by all of the TV shows out there now that have characters with autism.
The Big Bang Theory (even though the show doesn’t acknowledge that Sheldon has autism or Aspergers)
Parenthood (no longer running, but available on Netflix)
The A Word.
And, The Good Doctor.
I’m especially pleased with The Good Doctor.
Because the show features a character who is successful in a field that one would think a person with autism might not find success.
The field of medicine—being a doctor—is really twofold (in my opinion as a non-professional).
There’s the learning part (medical school), and there’s the social part, applying what you’ve learned to helping other people. This means you have to talk to patients about what ails them and then communicate medical procedures and medical terminology for a layperson.
In The Good Doctor, the character, Shaun, has autism, but he also has savant syndrome. This means that he has an incredible ability to remember things, numbers and visuals, etc. This ability allowed him to ace med school because he could easily absorb and retain and understand the massive amounts of medical information one has to learn in med school.
That’s part one, the curriculum of a very difficult program, medical school.
Part two, for someone with autism, can only be enormously difficult to achieve—being an actual doctor who treats patients.
What an incredible challenge and what a struggle.
Which is why I love the show.
The Good Doctor shows that a person with autism can succeed, and yet this person with autism also struggles, like all of us. Except for it focuses on autism.
What a great formula for a TV show.
And how great for autism awareness, as well as showing people with autism that they can achieve anything.
What else do I like about the show?
Well, here’s this doctor with autism. He’s super intelligent but is still figuring out how to fit in at this hospital and how to communicate his knowledge and impart his talents.
Typical struggles of young doctors, with autism added on top of it all.
Shaun’s autism, as well as how patients deal with Shaun, plus how his peers and other doctors have to learn to deal with him.
Shaun is played by a neuro-typical actor.
The show, however, went a step further with a recent episode.
They hired an actor with autism to play the role of a patient with autism.
What a great thing to do.
The only thing that could have rained on this parade was a bad performance by the actor or even a really bad storyline by the writers.
Did that happen?
The actor who played the patient with autism was awesome.
The actor was plays Shaun, who already does a stunning job, elevated his performance for this episode.
The storyline worked quite well.
(*I had one slight issue with the writing—It had to do with how the parents suddenly decided that Shaun couldn’t even be in the operating room, who the hell are they to say who can’t be in an operating room? Do they have objections to all the nurses and the pulmonary doctor and all the other professionals involved in a surgery?)
The tangent that didn’t work for me was a writing choice that I understood, because this show is a drama and it needs…drama. So, the writers injected some (even if I didn’t quite like the choice).
Anyhow, that story choice had nothing to do with the excellent acting, and the rest of the story, how parents and a young man with autism react when a doctor with autism treats a patient with autism.
And, how Shaun, a young doctor with autism learns to deal with a patient who has autism. For example, in the episode Shaun tells a fellow doctor that he has never met anyone with else autism.
So, here is this doctor who is learning how to deal with patients—especially deal with empathy—and he’s face to face with a patient who is more similar to himself than any other patient he’s ever met.
And, this patient is in a hospital and is in pain.
The show is new, and I hope it can keep the awesome acting, writing, and producing up for a few years!
Autism and The Good Doctor.
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