The Good Doctor, modeled after the South Korean series of the same name, is a television series coming to ABC this fall about a surgeon, Shaun, with autism and savant syndrome. Shaun leaves his troubled town and childhood behind to join the pediatric unit at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital—he demonstrates his talents and works to save lives, but is met by the skepticism and uncertainty of his colleagues. The show follows him as he attempts to prove that his autism does not get in the way of being a compassionate human being and a good doctor.
While Shaun faces criticism and skepticism in the show, actor Freddie Highmore who plays this main character is hoping to challenge and change stereotypes regarding autism. He says that they’re trying to move away from how individuals with autism have been portrayed on certain television shows and movies in the past, “the number one thing being that they are somehow devoid of emotion, that they don’t experience as broad a range of emotions as neurotypical people do,” Deadline reported. However, with that being said, executive producer of The Good Doctor David Shore establishes that the show is not meant to wholly represent autism, but offer a character who deals with real struggles that can come with being autistic.
3 Unique Facts You Didn’t Know About People with Autism
Autism is a shorthand term for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which severely impairs individuals socially, communicatively, and cognitively. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, approximately 1 in 68 children in 2014 had autism in the United States. While individuals with the disorder are no longer instantly feared and institutionalized, people still characterize them as lesser, hindered individuals. However, people with autism are equal individuals and have some positive unique qualities. Here are 3 facts you didn’t know about autism:
- While individuals with autism are often looked at as less intelligent, half of all children identified with autism have average or even above average IQs.
- Around 25% of individuals with autism are nonverbal, but they typically make up for this by excelling in another performance area.
- Autism can lead the affected individual to have an intense interest in a single or limited number of things. While this is viewed as a cognitive impairment, it also means he or she is especially knowledgeable in certain areas. This is and can be utilized by employers in the workplace.
Other Well-Known Characters with Autism
The team of producers and actors that worked to produce the first season of The Good Doctor, premiering September 25th on ABC, marked their efforts and desires to change how individuals with autism are sometimes developed on screen. The following are other films and TV shows that have tackled the task of portraying characters with autism:
Parenthood: Parenthood is a television series that follows the lives of four siblings as they endure the love and heartache that comes with parenthood. One of the siblings, Adam Braverman, has a son, Max, who appears to be somewhat abnormal: he avoids eye contact, he hates to be touched, and he is very focused on and interested in bugs and photography. Adam and his wife, Kristina, later find out that Max has a form of autism—Asperger’s. While Max can’t process this diagnosis until much later in the series, each season depicts the challenges that come with having autism as well as raising a child who has autism. Max also shows how loving and intelligent autistic individuals can be. Max Burkholder, who plays Max Braverman in the show, did a great deal of preparing for the role. He says that he took the time to research the disorder, speak with autism activists, and join the organization Autism Speaks, in order to accurately depict someone with Asperger’s.
Dear John: Dear John is a major motion picture, adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ romance novel of the same name. It tells the story of a soldier John (Channing Tatum) who meets and falls in love with a woman named Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) on one of his leaves. They spend two weeks together and then continue their relationship through letters after he returns to duty. During the time they do have, Savannah introduces John to Alan, her neighbor and good friend’s son. She explains her friendly history with the two, as well as Alan’s journey with autism. Savannah also meets and spends time with John’s dad: a shy, coin-collector who has trouble leaving the house and and deviating from his normal routine. She later tells John that she suspects his father to, like Alan, have a form of autism. John first lashes out at Savannah for making that kind of assertion, but then later accepts it and better understands why his dad is the way that he is.
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