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....

8 comments:

Do'C said...

I liked the original movie too. Who could forget the Diarrhea Song

Clay said...

I caught the tail end of it too. It was a surprise to me. I really like Lauren Graham, so I hope the show doesn't piss me off with their portrayal of Asperger's.

r.b. said...

Something tells me this is a positive. I'll try to tune in. Thanks for the reminder!

r.b. said...

I was able to watch the first show online http://www.nbc.com/parenthood/

I am crying my eyes out. I guess the line, "Don't make me go through this alone." reminded me of the early days, when I felt so alone.

Rachela said...

It could happen, that it's missed. In the 90's, when I was a nonverbal, rocking, flapping toddler, with all of the signs, they still said I had MR and not autism, then they explained away the delay by saying I'm gifted..

I don't watch TV, so I didn't see the show.

Sarah said...

I believe I've read somewhere that the directer/writer/someone has a kid with Asperger's, FWIW.

I thought the portrayal itself was fairly decent, but did not like the dad saying that there was something "wrong" with his son with his son in hearing distance. That's pretty appalling.

"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'm not entirely sure what you mean by this, but I doubt it's uncommon for a less obviously autistic kid to go undiagnosed by age 8-10, if not longer. Yes, even today. As the show did a good job demonstrating, there still are a lot of popular misconceptions among parents and others.

I'd also note that the family seemed fairly traditional in a sense, and not very likely to utilize psychological/counseling services on its own. Those kinds of people are not going to be diagnosed as frequently. Autism can easily be "missed" if one is uneducated on not on the lookout for neurological/psychological problems.

LIVSPARENTS said...

Since I have been so 'close' to autism on a daily since Livie was 2 (has it been 6 years???) and having Gracie diagnosed at 18 months, I can't relate to a parent not seeing it until 8 (the NBC site has Max at 8 years old). I'm not doubting it happens, I'm probably just lamenting the fact rather than disbelieving the situation portrayed.

I guess I can't fault the dad for the initial reactions, I'm not sure that Max was within earshot of his 'something wrong' comment anyway. We'll see how the episodes play out. You get the feeling that his grandpa is going to be difficult though.

I think the premier is being replayed this Tuesday, so we'll have to wait on subsequent episodes...

Clay said...

"I think the premier is being replayed this Tuesday, so we'll have to wait on subsequent episodes..."

Ah good, thanks for the heads up. Now I can see the whole episode. BTW, Lauren Graham, afaik, made one commercial before they offered her a show. Very talented.