You know the acclaimed NBC show, Parenthood?
Yeah, the one that does such a wonderful job of portraying young Max, the boy with Aspergers?
Don’t watch it.
That’s not to say I never tried; I watched an episode since Max is being mainstreamed this year. There was a classroom scene where he keeps talking out of turn, tapping his pencil and pretty much all Mayor Bee behaviors. There was another scene where he’s eating lunch by himself. And I had to switch it off. Partially because I was so tired (10PM on Tuesday nights are hard) and partially because the reminders of what Mayor Bee will most likely face just made it impossible to watch.
A few weeks ago, Mayita was sick with a virus so I stayed home with her. Flipping around the channels, I came across Mercury Rising. It’s supposed to be a government/FBI thriller with Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin. Instead, I’m bawling over the young autistic boy who is the one who cracked some super secret code in a puzzle book. Especially when the kid is kicking the crap out of Bruce Willis as he is trying to protect him from all the boogeymen (Mayor Bee also kicks when we are doing the “potato sack” to get him moving).
Even now, one of my favorite movies, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? is hard to watch, especially when Arnie finds that his mother has passed away and tries to harm himself. It is such a powerful scene and I have to hold back tears – like what if something happens to us? How will Mayor Bee react?
And while Rain Man is an excellent movie, not all people on the spectrum are savants. Some are just normal people, with a little twist to them.
In all seriousness, I applaud those that have brought autism to the small screen and sought to normalize them. A producer on Parenthood has a child on the spectrum and it shows in Max’s character. It’s so real, the struggles that he and his family deal with in each episode. And other shows, like Big Bang Theory and Bones, have characters that while not “officially” diaganosed, possess traits that ring true for those on the spectrum.
But I don’t watch it. Because it’s all too familiar. Maybe too real.
When I turn on the TV, I want, for the most part, to be transported into a fantasy world. I need distraction and relaxation. Where, sad to say, autism is not welcomed. That’s why if you ask me what I like to watch, it’s mostly comedies. I want to relax, to smile, to laugh while watching TV. Hell, I will watch Mafia Wives just for the escapism factor.
I don’t want to be reminded of what I live in every.single.day. I spend my days learning more and more about autism, about B’s ECSE class and how to integrate into his aftercare, how I can structure his schedule to be as a painless as possible. When I put him to bed, I want to breathe a sigh of relief and shut my mind off for a little while.
Because, as we all know, the next day we are back at it again, whether it’s advocating, scheduling, meeting, or just living our lives.
Does anyone else feel like I do? Or do you embrace watching shows like Parenthood?