Tonic Offers a Tonic as Antidote to the Unrealistic and Downright Insulting Nonsense of The Good Doctor
Note: If your child or friend or even yourself with autism is a genius who can or could function in a high pressure, snap decision, life or death job like surgery please let us know. We never want to insult our readers - especially those who are on the spectrum. Are there savants? Yes of course. But the trend to portraying autism as a desirable gift is troubling to us here at AofA. I know children with amazing splinter skills. Math and calendar geniuses, for instance. "What day was April 4, 1874?" And my friend's son can answer. I can't and I'm too tired to Google it.
This week the FBI report on Sandy Hook mass murderer Adam Lanza was released and reported on in many media outlets. Adam had Asperger's, but the report indicates almost what I could consider full autism. He could not stand light. He could not stand sound. He could not wear clothes. He weighed 111 pounds at his death, so clearly he did not or could not eat. He perseverated on mass shootings. Hadn't left his room in 3 months according to the report. Communicated with his enabling "gun nut" mother (that's the report's language) via email only during those 3 months. And he also had an indication of pedophilia. Is he also an aberration? Hell yes. Adam Lanza is NOT the face of Asperger's. And neither is the Good Doctor.
There's a reason for my outrage, our outrage. If autism is seen as a gift and not a life shattering (for many) diagnosis, who will fund research? Who will pass laws protecting our loved ones? Who will make sure social security benefits and Medicaid stay around to help our kids survive? This is the USA. We are a short term nation. Remember Houston's floods? Aw heck that was how many tragedies ago? Autism will disappear as a voting issue. We'll lose clout such as we have any. Our kids will lose a lot more. KIM
By Sarah Bradley Read the full article here.
A few weeks ago, ABC premiered a new drama called The Good Doctor, about a young surgical resident with high-functioning autism. Dr. Shaun Murphy has a traumatic past and many challenges to overcome, but clear talent in his chosen profession.
He's also a genius. It says so right there in the promotional trailer for the series. In the first episode, audiences can see the visual representation of his brain working overtime as he taps into a bank of memorized facts and manipulates anatomical diagrams in his head, all before synthesizing that information in superheroic fashion during medical crises.
This is not a show I want to watch. I'm tired of what the entertainment business thinks autism looks like—it's a perception that's far removed from reality.
The well-known pop culture motif of the "autistic savant" likely started with the release of the film Rain Man in 1988. While savant syndrome is real, it's actually quite rare—only 10 percent of people with autism are estimated to have savant abilities. But the stereotype has hung around stubbornly since then, appearing in film and television to spread the misconception that autism—despite its varying degrees of impairment—is something that can also bear desirable or even enviable gifts.
That message is damaging in more ways than one. It's insulting to the large percentage of people on the spectrum without savant abilities, because it implies their stories aren't as valuable or worth telling. It also promotes the falsehood that an autism diagnosis nearly always comes pre-packaged with extreme giftedness.
"It's true that many individuals with high-functioning autism have very high levels of intelligence and savant-like abilities," says Harry Voulgarakis, a psychologist and director of the Shoreline Center for Social Learning in Connecticut. "But it's important to remember that this is a small percentage of individuals on the spectrum…in fact, about 40 percent of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder [ASD] have an intellectual disability, or a lower range IQ. So while the media representations of ASD are not necessarily inaccurate, they are limited in the many aspects of ASD that they are portraying."