Monday, March 08, 2010

Autism in the Media Continues Following Us

Not to be outdone by my experience stumbling on the media portraying autism last week, Linda had her own experience of autism deja-vue on Sunday. She had missed the whole experience I had with the Parenthood premier. "I experience autism in my REAL life; why do I have to watch about it in my entertainment?" she had lamented when I offered her the on-line episode to watch.

She has been experiencing a little cabin fever of late and the opportunity arose to send her out to the movies with her mother and my oldest daughter on Sunday night. After making sure that both girls were fully ready for me to just coast them into bed, they went out to the movies to see something called Dear John. It's one of those 'chick flicks' that a real man can't be caught dead in (probably because we're not supposed to cry in public); so giving them a ladies night seemed the apropos thing to do.

What she did not realize was that there were subplots involving the leading man's father possibly being Aspergers and one of the leading lady's friend's child also being on the spectrum. She gets home (after I scramble to get a sleeping Grace into bed just before the door opens), and exclaims "I just can't seem to get away from autism, it's just everywhere!" She enjoyed it anyway, and I got back a wife who was a little less stressed than when she left.

I guess I'll have to rent it when it comes out, just so I can critique the portrayals, mind you. Real men don't have to tell you that they cry at movies at home...except maybe when Old Yeller dies!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Surfin' A.S.D.

As it happened (no...REALLY):

I was getting the girls ready for bed and officially ending the 'children's hour' on the TV, and I started surfing the channels beginning at Channel 2. Up to 3, then 4 (NBC in the NY area) and stopped on the name Parenthood on the ID on the screen. Wow, Parenthood's on, I love that movie! Linda and I always identified with many of the people and situations in the quirky family, and especially fancied ourselves the Steve Martin/Mary Steenburgen couple, with all the overflowing neurosis and children they had. If you have kids, a family and/or dysfunction, I highly recommend it.

But wait, this wasn't the movie, but a new series based loosely on the movie's theme. It is produced by Ron Howard, the original movie's director, so I figured I'd give it a few minutes, even though it was 2/3rds over. I had heard something about them doing this show so, I treated it a sort of background noise until I got to a scene where a mother was talking to her husband about what the school had said about their child. She started talking about educational issues and I thought jokingly 'Oh boy lady, better think about autism'. I just think of the world within my orbit of course, 'anthroBillmorphize' everything. The conversation continues for a few seconds more and the mom (Kristina), says "Adam, they say that Max has Aspergers Syndrome!" Huh? Wha? Wait! The kid's an aspie? Why haven't the circle of autism people online been talking this up? I go to my trusty laptop and go on the NBC website and find out it's the premier episode.

I have no idea if, or how, Max was portrayed on the show, they were talking about his quirky behaviors, his tantrums and how it all adds up to Aspergers. The dad was in denial about it being anything that he couldn't fix (a la the Steve Martin character in the original movie about his kid). I'm sure we will be hearing more about this in the coming months, weeks and hours. NBC is setting out a tall order having to portray an aspie week to week (it's an ensemble cast, so I doubt there will be weekly storylines on him). The autism community is a fierce critic and if they have a stim out of place, or a behavior out of line, they'll surely be hearing about. But I have to applaud them for trying. Let's wish them good luck and keep the pressure on to give an accurate portrayal of the issues facing the parents and the child in the real world we live in.
PS. I utilized the ' view complete episodes' functionality on the NBC website. I'm not quite sure if I agree witht the portrayal. I had a problem with the term 'educational therapist', but even though I never heard of one, by my google, doesn't mean they don't exist. I'm not so sure that a kid of 8-10 (not sure of his age), could not be diagnosed. Again, being a parent of one and having another and being in tuned to autism, I can't see how it is missed, statistically speaking, I'm sure it happens. I have to give them a little leaway, they are doing a premier and the had to do a whole bunch in the hour they had. I'll leave it to the rest of the jury. I'm not really that happy, but I'll give them a few story lines to get it right....