The Good Doctor, where are all the autistic actors.

Posted: October 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Someone asked me the question about whether I was offended that autistic characters on television such as the protagonist in the Good Doctor or Atypical weren’t being played by autistic actors. The truth, however, is that, I don’t know how many autistic actors there are in Hollywood. It is one thing to be offended that no autistic actors were offered the part, but, it is another thing when no autistic actors apply. Many people who are high functioning don’t disclose about their disability to the general public, and I imagine this is particularly true for autistic actors who don’t want to be pigeonholed into characters with Autism. After all, the market for this role in movies and television is extremely limited, and an actor who did that would mostly be out of work.

It is much easier being an autistic writer than it is being an autistic actor after all, acting calls upon those social qualities that people with Autism generally do differently. For instance, it is harder for us to read and show emotions which is the bread and butter of an actor. In addition, reading body language is a major tool in the actors playbook. This is not to say that this is all people on the autism spectrum and that there aren’t autistic actors out there, they are just the diamonds in the rough.

After all the spectrum is incredibly diverse and that for some people being on the autism means sometimes struggling with some challenges more or less than other individuals. Take Clay Marzo for example. Clay is a professional surfer in California and he is also on the Autism spectrum. This is especially unusual for someone on the autism spectrum to have good enough hand-eye-coordination to be a professional athlete. Yet, he still struggles with some of the more usual qualities that other people on the autism spectrum do, like he has a really hard time making eye-contact with the media people trying to interview him.

Therefore, I would be much more offended if autistic writers were not hired for a show like the Good Doctor to make sure that the representation of a person on the autism spectrum was accurate. In addition, I would hope that they would at least consult with a couple of autistic people if they didn’t at least hire them to be on the writing staff. After all, individuals on the autism spectrum are all unique, therefore, my experiences may not reflect another person’s. Though, there definitely would be enough similarities and patterns that it would be clear to us whether a character was created that was not written by someone on the spectrum.

After all the skills and prerequisite to be a writer are something that people on the autism spectrum have in spades. Willing to spend long amounts of time by themselves putting words on a page. (Check). Having something unique to say and wanting to get their ideas out there. (Check.) A childhood where we protected ourselves by burying ourselves in fiction, whether it was books or movies. (Check.)

Do these shows pass the test, I don’t know I am going to suspend my verdict, until I have seen more of them.

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Comments
  1. Charlotte de Silva says:

    Lovely thought provoking article Adam.

    Cxxxx

  2. berval2014 says:

    Well done!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. kruus@mymts.net says:

    Very interesting! Thank you for posting this. I have learned a lot from you over the years. I’m a teacher so it helps me in working with students. I joined your subscription years ago after I saw you perform at your first Fringe show. You were very good. Kyllikki Ruus

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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