I don’t know if any of you have heard of the person Temple Grandin. She was a high functioning autistic woman, (actually I believe she’s still around,) she thought in pictorials.
I think we owe her some of our modern understanding of the condition, and also of how people who have it cope with things and overcome their disability.
Unlike with deafness or blindness, no one can really argue that Autism is not a disability. It causes a lot of frustration for the people who have it. I’m sure thy often wish they didn’t. But it’s the way they are and they have to deal with it.
I want to say upfront I don’t see these people as weird, or less then human, as some have in the past. I see them rather as people who have involuntarily been put behind these glass walls of communication. They can look out, but it’s much harder to get out. And much harder for us to get in.
I want to give a cautious endorsement today to one of abs’s newest shows.
First off, I don’t like abc at all. So this is a big thing for me, but for once I like what they are doing.
The new show is barely a month old. It’s The Good Doctor.
Anyway, the main character of the Good Doctor, Shawn Murphy, is autistic. He is amazingly high functioning, but still very much autistic. He talks with the odd monotone they use, and has to have things a certain way.
Shawn is a doctor (duh) at as hospital in San Jose, California. They were reluctant to take him on because he has a hard time with communication. Which they really stress as important for the patients.
Back when I first started seeing commercials for this show, I was skeptical that the writers would do anything imaginative with it, though I thought it was a good idea.
I don’t know about you, but thanks to the relatives I have who like medical drama shows, I’ve seen quite a bit of Grey’s Anatomy, Bones (not exactly medical, but similar,) and NCIS.
And not one of them stressed communication and patient comfort that I could see. So, yay for San Jose!
Though the hospital has plenty of issues in its inner workings, which I’d like to think are exaggerated for dramatic effect, and not what real hospitals are focusing on, but I have no real knowledge of it.
But even though the authority figures there are concerned with image and increasing their numbers; the live-ins, Shawn, Clair, and Jared, are a tad more concerned with helping people. Especially Clair, who is actually getting in trouble quite a bit for being too nice and not honest enough with the patients.
Shawn has no filter when he speaks, so after he’s hired he steps on people’s toes without realizing why they would have a problem with what he’s saying. He has the gift of thinking in pictures and patterns (like the real life Temple Grandin) so when he looks at the human body, he intuitively understands it far better than the average doctor. He can figure out things in his mind that machine scans can’t pick up on.
A bit like Superman, who can see better with his own X-ray vision, than any X-ray machine can. Because the human capacity is always more flexible and can be improved and honed in time, while a machine can’t correct or stretch itself.
Shawn may have no social skills whatsoever, but his heart is in the right place. He is always striving to make sure the patient is completely healthy.
What I would say this shows gift is is that it understands what you, the audience, are felling watching it. Clair wants to understand Shawn better but knows nothing about how to handle him, so she starts from the ground up. And we feel the same way, trying to comprehend this person, and even though we often get glimpses into what’s going on in his mind, we still struggle with really understanding him.
It makes me wonder if the writers themselves are figuring it out as they go and hoping to better understand Autism because of their efforts.
Actually, I feel like I have almost a unique perspective on this type of thing. At least a different one than anyone else I know has.
Because, whether you have Autism, or whether you just don’t fit into the social mold society has established; it’s your decision whether you will withdraw further than ever and become even more locked into your own mind, or whether you will push the barriers.
Temple Grandin was a real life example of what Shawn Murphy is fictitiously demonstrating. Someone who realized she was different form other people, but knew that didn’t have to stop her from doing something with her life, and also realized that if her needs should be met and understood, then she should understand other peoples.
For example, Temple didn’t like being hugged. (I used to dislike that also.) But overtime she realized what a hug meant to people and she grew to offer them as a way to comfort others.
The more I learn about people with disabilities, the more I’m convinced the actual disability is the one we choose to have.
The introvert only becomes a total recluse when they accept that they can’t function with other people at all.
The person with dyslexia only becomes illiterate when they accept that they can never find a way around their problem with printed text.
You get the idea.
In conclusion, I like this show’s progress so far, I think it might actually accomplish what you would hope its goal is. To help people better understand those who have this condition, and know how to respond to them.
That’s worth making a show for.
Until next time–Natasha.