Sunday, March 20, 2011


Mike and I were watching Parenthood on NBC but now Mike doesn't like it anymore, so I am a few episodes behind.  PLUS it makes me crazy the way that they show tv shows nowadays.  I know I am dating myself, both from saying "nowadays" and from talking about how Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley used to come on in September and go until MAY and now you get like three weeks of new shows in a row, nine off, three new shoes, ten off, and then two more shows and that's a season.  It drives me mad.  Plus I work on Tuesdays and that's when Parenthood is on.

BUT a few weeks ago they had this episode where Max, the kid with Asperger's and his Dad, went to an amusement park or something because the dad wanted to have a 'normal day' with his son.  He just wants 'one day'.  Of course, it doesn't go well, Max freaks out because he is off his schedule.  Boooo hoooo, I think.  It's useless to wish for one day that your child wasn't your child and I think that's kind of what wishing their autism away would be.  Of course, I understand wanting to have a tantrum-free day, or a good night, or whatever, but I can't see wishing for one day that your kid wasn't your kid.

Max is all toilet trained and speaks and is super smart and likes bugs and has interests.  Yes, he has autism and he has tantrums and ... I mean, he has autism!  It's hard!  But there are things that I don't like about how autism is represented on this show, and this is one of them.  The dad wants everything to be okay and be 'normal', just like a dad would, right/  The mom is kind of a harpy, and she's always CRYING and trying to do the right thing by her son, even if it means embarrassing herself.  The Grandpa doesn't understand WHY the kid just can't be NORMAL and in the beginning, he thinks good old fashioned discipline will help.  The couple has some friends whose son has autism and he's the WORST behaved kid ever and they just let him go off all the time, they're obsessed with diet and therapy and of course, eventually, the get divorced.

Another thing I don't like is that this tv version of autism is such b.s.  I mean, I know some kids do speak and are super-high-functioning and I know they have autism too and it is as hard as anyone's situation, but it really gets pretty wrapped up by the end of each episode, for me.  I feel like they would never have a character like Anthony on a tv show and it bugs me.

The other day I went to Five Guys for takeout for lunch for me and Mike and I checked in on Facebook.  A friend of mine commented, asked me did my kids climb all over the bags of peanuts they had there?  And I said, for what felt like the millionth time, we do not take our kids to a place like that.  If we go out to eat, it has to be carefully orchestrated and timed so that it goes as well as possible for all involved.  It sucks but that's the way it is.  And I feel like no one will ever know the way it is, the way it can be for some of us, if the only exposure they have to people with autism is Rainman and now Parenthood.  It's good but not enough.

NOT that I'm saying that they should make a tv show with characters like us on it.  Frankly - ugh, who would want to watch that trash?  I'm just saying it doesn't seem very representative of all families of people with autism and I think people think that it is.


Stimey said...

I appreciate this post a lot. I wrote a similar piece over at Autism Unexpected last week. I can't write from the powerful, personal perspective you can, but I agree with you so much. There is more than one type of autism. Everyone isn't like my kid. Everyone isn't like Max on Parenthood. It's so important to get that perspective out there, and that is what I try to do for my son. But I just hope that doesn't come at the expense of others on the spectrum.

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

I couldn't agree more, that there should be shows that show kids with more "typical" autism, or more severe. Max is doing amazing, so much better than so many kids with autism. Now that would be a great Parenthood storyline -- a show where they get to see a kid with some real serious issues, who is maybe nonverbal, and they get to realize just how great Max is doing and how lucky they are.

I think though that maybe this is as much autism as primetime TV could handle, though. If it was too severe, it would be harder to watch and would limit their storylines (hm, much as it limits our lives...) so they make him as autistic as they can, and still have it work with the rest of the show in the hour timeslot they have.