Autism Politico

Discussing the politics of autism.

Editorial #56: Parethood

Autism Politico is disappointed with the new TV show called Parenthood – or else it is disappointed with people with Asperger Syndrome. It cannot decide which.

In episode two, we watched two parents who have raised a son from birth lose grip with reality and fall to pieces when their son is diagnosed with AS. The emotional over reaction is realistic in that it seems in keeping with the way most neurotypical parents react when their child is diagnosed.

This sort of hyper-reaction characterizes neurotypicals. Autism Politico doesn’t understand why. The situation is what it is is, and has been what it has been since the child was born. Why should a label change anything? Maybe it’s because parents live in denial until such time as a diagnosis makes them face the music and live up to their responsibilities as parents. Could we not see a show where parents take a diagnosis in stride?

Suspecting where the series was going with AS, Autism Politico skipped trying to watch the pilot online.

Objectivity got the better of Autism Politico, however, so we watched episode number three. 

The third episode disappointed Autism Politico. It begins with the AS kid in class. His teacher is trying to make him focus on his work, but -amid the shuffling of papers from his fellow classmates, and the distractions commonly associated with classrooms- the AS kid focuses in on the bubbling fish tank as the cause of his inability to concentrate. In a later scene, the glass from the broken fish tank is on the floor, all the fish dead, and the kid is expelled.

By the end of the episode, the AS kid (Autism Politico is so disappointed with the series that it is not bothering to memorize the characters’ names) is happily installed -without even the hint of a meltdown on the horizon due to this massive and potentially life changing transition- in a very exclusive school, the quick and easy result of ceaseless efforts by the boy’s pathetic and desperate parents who seem to believe that the school, rather than their efforts at parenting, are the boy’s only hope.

Aside from the unlikelihood of a quick and immediate transition from public school to a special needs one (most special needs schools have waiting lists) Autism Politico doesn’t often see autistics kill other life forms out of such selfishness. Nevertheless, it has been known, and that was probably why the producers of Parenthood zeroed in on this fact and wrote it into the TV show. Viewers who saw the show are now going to get the idea that people with AS are selfish, self-centered, pathological sociopaths who will destroy any sub-creature to make sure that their own little microcosm remains intact.

Given that so many autistics have behaved this way in real life, however, Autism Politico thinks this portrayal of autistics is GOOD because it may help shame misbehaving autistics into acting in keeping with decent human standards of conduct.  We  keep hearing stories about autistics getting violent in schools and at work, or at home, and knowing autistics the way we do, Autism Politico knows that even though many of these autistics are mistreated, Autism Politico knows that violence for the most part is a choice.

The behavior of AS as depicted on Parenthood will certainly cause people to stereotype autistics. Autism Politico believes that the way to protest against this stereotype is not to write the show’s producers, but for autistics to restrain themselves whenever they have the urge to break societal laws and rules. Most autistics who are functioning at average or above average intelligence should have no problem doing this, and they should have no problem mentoring other autistics either.

Replies to this editorial are welcome.

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March 23, 2010 - Posted by | Autism & Exploitation, Autism Community & Its Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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