Sometimes it’s tough watching TV and Film with its frequent ill informed stereotyping. It’s not often you see Autism depicted as routine ‘normal’ life. It’s the full on Rainman, the brilliant genius or ….

Dad how many people will think I’m a Psychopath or Sociopath when they find out I have Aspergers.

That’s another question I can’t remember seeing in the really helpful ‘A to Z of Parenting Books’.

Those very assumptions have appeared in a few movies and shows we have watched recently. Some quite indirect references and some completely full on. We love Sherlock. In the series it’s made quite clear that Holmes has Aspergers. Further Holmes frequently says ‘I’m not a psychopath I am a highly functioning sociopath”. In another movie the person with Aspergers is a loner, has no empathy and shows no remorse for his actions. Here Aspergers means you are a Psychopath.

The two are not the same.

Our son has developed a good understanding of the important differences between the two diagnoses. He is also aware that unfortunately not everyone understands this equally as well. That’s where inappropriate stereotypes in TV and film can have such a negative impact. Whatever the reason for this. Laziness, widespread misconceptions, Creative Blindspots, or a deliberate attempt to avoid reality. Autism is such a broad spectrum its time this was reflected more accurately in mainstream culture. Yes it could be the brilliant detective, but equally it could be the loving person next door, or someone who is socially awkward, or the loner, or the comic, or the gentle animal lover, or the person who is physically challenging, or the person who focuses on one topic, or the person who has intellectual disabilities or the average person who just blends in.

Just as damaging as the inappropriate stereotyping is the air brushing of reality. Autism is relatively widespread. Yet often it is invisible in modern culture. It’s as if it doesn’t happen. Depending on the research the instance of autistic diagnosis is approximately 1 in every 50 or 60 child. That doesn’t include the majority who go undiagnosed. Yet autism is grossly unrepresented in TV and Movies.

Let’s start properly promoting awareness. Let’s start to be open about it. Let’s start to see it done right more times in TV and Film. That would make such a big impact for so many of us.

68 thoughts on “Spectrum

  1. I really wish being autistic were just one added feature a character had. Like wearing glasses or being a redhead or left handed. An interesting fact about someone that explains why they act in certain ways. Instead of it being the whole premise of the character. A walking stereotype.

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  2. Am not sure if you have seen or not and now that I am thinking about it may not be appropriate for your son but Atypical on Netflix I enjoyed and granted I am not versed in the ins and outs but am wondering if you were to take a look and see if something either would watch? The show is about a teenager who is on the spectrum going to high school and decides he wants a girl friend. The family dynamics are interesting. If this is not something that would be good ignore my suggestion. The character seems to me to be genuine. This is a link where Kier Gilchrist (A British Canadian or Canadian British lol he has best of both worlds) discussing how he prepared for role. This may be jumping point to checking out show. I wanted to find something that explained how he prepared for the role of Sam. If I am totally off my rocker or too much tell me to cease and desist. The link is: https://variety.com/2018/tv/features/keir-gilchrist-atypical-netflix-1202951654/

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The worst part in the US right now is blaming mass shooting on people with mental illnesses WITHOUT EXPLAINING WHAT THEY MEAN! If you are not normal you’re a mass killer!
    We know nothing is further from the truth, but yet people put it out there and nobody challenges it. Mental illness = crazed criminal.
    Way back in the 50s my little brother had Down Syndrome, and evetybody in the area called him a nut, adults included. Eventually he was put in an institution, where he was sexually assaulted by other boys and probably some teachers/keepers. Thankfully he died fairly young. His life was a tragedy.
    We are supposed to be more advanced now. But are we? Your son is not a monster. Don’t let anyone make him into one. That’s what they did to my brother.

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  4. We’re approaching 2020 and autism is still misrepresented. Unfortunately, a lot of people take their knowledge from movies, TV and other media. People know the word “Autism” but they still give a blank stare when you try to explain.

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s not actually harder for kids like your son than for kids like Ben. The expectations to “just be normal” are so much higher but the sensory issues and other difficulties are the same.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pretty sure that is exactly what is going on with your blog!

    You are reaching out and helping many people gain better understanding in a fun, humerous, but completely realistic and practical way through your writing and conversations.

    My best suggestion would be to try and build a network of social media sites and blogs – or join one if others are already doing it. Then reach out to movie and TV production staff and get them involved. Word is getting around, even if slowly at first. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My granddaughter has a friend who has Asperger’s Syndrome. She is in her 20s now, but as a child, she was shielded, protected, sheltered from the outside world, and so she grew up not realizing that perhaps she was in some ways different, and that she would an object of intrigue or even intimidation to the outside world. She still struggles to understand. Your son is at least aware of the things that make him different from his classmates, is learning at an early age how to cope with it, and I think this will make him stronger in the long run. Yeah, it’s tough right now, but you and he are taking the bull by the horns, dealing with it now, rather than letting him be overwhelmed by it all later. Good job, Dad!!!! 👍

    Liked by 3 people

      1. T. O. Daria also has a short piece on the Lizard brain, Animal brain and Human brain… suggesting that those on the Autism spectrum use more of the animal brain because the frontal lobes in HS are not functioning so well. This makes them great animal communicators but leaves them misunderstood by humans. Fascinating stuff.

        Do you know, I think a virtual reality game (using the special VR viewer) that emulates how someone with autism sees and hears, and experiences, would be fascinating. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I do not have a highly informed understanding of the entire Autism spectrum but it does interest me that we don’t try to appreciate the uniqueness of each human being in the ways we all process, interact with others or relate to so called ‘reality’. I think in education this should be the primary concern but obviously it is not and add to that the ignorance of those who just do not understand or label or use stereotypes. I think it time it most certainly must change and its so important to fight for that change and to counteract ignorance or misinformation as it arises.

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  8. Very well said. I hate how autism is represented and the notions that go with it. We have new neighbors that moved in on our street and they have very young kids. Declan likes to walk around the street while he listens to music and he stims while he listens. He makes grunts and sounds and shakes his head in a sporadic manner. The new neighbors are aware Declan is autistic but I don’t know what that means to them. If they are afraid of him as they do not know what he is doing. Or if they would ever let him talk or play with their children. I guess time will tell.

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    1. I really hope they are enlightened. Our son does that but is super conscious so will only do that in the garden. He would love to walk round the village but he just won’t. Probably wise as some of the views are a little date in some of our villagers. It really shouldn’t be like this. Great kids like Declan deserve a better world.

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  9. I know a couple who has five children and the three boys, ranging in age from 3 – 10, have been diagnosed with Autism. The parents disagree on how to raise them as the father wants to let them run wild and the mother wants to set appropriate boundaries.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post. Screen writer’s perhaps need some parents of kids with autism or individuals on the spectrum to function as consultants. I listen to parents of kids on the spectrum and try to promote “awareness” but have to constantly ask myself if I am “helpful or hurtful” (sorry I taught kids under 8 for 20 years) in the information I share.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Like any one on any end of any spectrum: it’s all about the soul. One needn’t be on a spectrum to be deemed a psycho–I’ve the classroom and family experience to prove it.

    Your son’s soul is one of kindness, creativity, and love. The people who aren’t douchebags will learn that the moment they meet him. 🙂 xxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay so far. Biff still has his rough days; he gets flustered and mixes things up by saying wrong answers on purpose. That irks me. 😦 But glasses for the boys (yup, they have glasses now–they’re far-sighted!) have helped them focus better. Hope you’re okay!

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