There are big differences between Autism and Autism for dramatic effect.
Some of you will have seen Rainman with its focus on the savant or the A-word with its focus on the child and now Netflix viewers are being “treated”to Atypical which focuses on relationship struggles, kind of. Later this year we will receive The Good Doctor, another dramatic programme focusing on a savant.
All well and good you might think, it’s pushing Autism into the sphere of public awareness, it’s giving us publicity.
But is it right ?.
The reason most drama leaves me cold is because it seems so detached from reality. Of course if I watch science fiction I expect it to be futuristic and out there but I’m talking about dramas set, so called, in the “real” world.
And that’s where Autism is. That’s where I am.
And since most drama about Autism seems to be written by people not on the spectrum but, apparently, from “research”, I am a little dubious about the writing to begin with.
Of course I accept that mainstream Autism does not good drama make. I understand that to get the all important viewers and ratings there has to be an appeal. I understand the appeal lies in focusing on the extremes, the genius savants and the socially inept; and then drawing out their talents, or lack of, to the nth degree. After all, it’s got to be dramatic or comedic to get those ratings.
But that’s not “real” Autism. It’s not my Autism.
Now I know some people actively dislike programmes like “The Undateables” but the people in that programme are ones I can more readily identify with. You can call it contrived and uncomfortable viewing if that’s your, err, view but I recall vividly my clumsy attempts at meeting the opposite sex (or same sex), the planning that went into my dates, how excited (and frankly amazed ) I was that anyone actually wanted to meet me, my not knowing how to talk, what to say, my headlong rushing into love with every female I met because she was the one and just wanting to gush about my special interest of the time or being tongue tied and wanting to be swallowed up by a giant hole.
That feels far more real to me than a comedy or drama written about Autism but not with Autism at its core, it’s foundation.
And, whilst talking about real Autism it would be rude of me not to mention Alan, our favourite gardener who has opened many people’s eyes to the talents we possess and the way we see the world without resorting to being labelled. Alan shows, better than most, how we work. It’s his vision of the world around him and how he brings the shapes and patterns he sees into his designs that bring Autism to life. That’s Autism at work. It’s a clear illustration of how the world is to us, the details, the noises, our eye for something different, our thinking outside the box (or the garden) and how, quite logically, that comes together. He’s a genius garden designer and that’s down to “real” Autism, not something scripted.
Perhaps you disagree. That’s fine. I just know which I prefer and which I’d prefer to be out in the public domain. I’d rather be real than someone else’s vision of how I should be because they’ve done a bit of research but not actually lived life on the spectrum.
Let’s keep it real!