I watched the trailer for The Good Doctor, which of course pissed me off. Thankfully, an autistic comrade has done the work entertainingly:
I’ll add some commentary on this clip:
I’m autistic and (barely) completed a PhD program. It was a psychology department, but we took neuroanatomy with the med students.
When I informally visited a few labs as an interested undergrad, which is sort of like the job interview in the clip, the last thing I would’ve EVER said was “The day the rain smelled like ice cream, my bunny went to heaven.” OMFG. It’s inconceivable.
This one time, my advisor mentioned that people from a lab in the South went to church. Christianity would be a bigger red flag than autism, for someone trying to get a job based on scientific reasoning. The audience of the show believes in heaven.
Something my advisor said about reading application essays: faculty fucking hate sappy shit about your sick relative. Everybody has one. I wanted to be a neuroscientist because I ate mushrooms when I was 16 years old and it changed my life, but I had the sense not to tell people that despite autism. Faculty want to hear about how you’re going to get them publications. They want to see evidence that you understand the details of what they do. Your grandma with Parkinson’s is irrelevant to whether you see yourself as an electrophysiologist.
Blah blah blah. Death is sad. I want to help people. The creators of the show must not realize that doctors are famous for being rich guys with no empathy for their patients or med students. The show is depicting a child’s understanding of doctors.
“And I want to make a lot of money so that I can have a television.”
So he knows how to administer 2.3 mg/kg of some drug, and presumably buy a ton of medical textbooks, and improvisationally save someone’s life at the airport, but he doesn’t know how to find an affordable TV?
The creators of the show have no idea what it’s like to be autistic OR a doctor.
It’s horrifying to read what normal people think. The cool kids at Indie Wire think the show is “destroying one misconception about autism at a time.”
Sexual Feelings and Drive Exist
On Monday’s episode titled “Pipes,” it’s revealed that Shaun has watched pornography. He comments that “some” porn have stories and plots, and later, it’s clear that he’s aware of some of the scantily clad women in the advertising around him. He’s in such a haze while recalling his first experiences viewing porn that he even misses his bus stop. Shaun appears to be aware of his attractive neighbor Lea (Paige Spara), so it will be interesting to see if he will attempt to learn how to have a non-platonic relationship with her or perhaps another woman. Netflix’s “Atypical” also tackles this subject head-on with a teenage boy.
Feelings Can Be Hurt
Shaun knows when he’s being mocked, and even if he won’t necessarily show it, that doesn’t mean he lacks emotion. The prank that was played on him in childhood by a girl who tried to get him to expose himself clearly left him wary of the opposite sex today. But his feelings are hurt because human connections are important to him, as much as he may seem like a loner…
While it’s true that Shaun has had moments where he cannot understand someone, and therefore either acts inappropriately or has to ask what something means, that does not make him without empathy. In the first episode it’s shown that he’s inspired to be a doctor because of losing a beloved pet and then later his brother. He knows that saving lives won’t bring his brother back, but he wants to stop others from dying and suffering in the same way. He has a generosity of spirit that drives him in his calling…
Some Behaviors Can Be Managed
In flashbacks Shaun is seen rocking when he’s under great distress. We haven’t seen him do this in adulthood, but sometimes when he’s anxious, the character fiddles with his hands or the toy scalpel he had as a boy. Other times he sits absolutely still. No behaviors are pervasive but are situational. Even when he fixates on trying to find his screwdriver to the point that he wakes up his mentor to help him look, he’s able to stop the frenzied search cold when told to take a break. If anything, this inconsistency shows that obsessive, blinkered behavior isn’t an absolute. Nothing is.
I actually have to set up an OkCupid profile and mention autism knowing most people think this way. They’d be surprised that I’m a person. Really, I’m not a person because they get to decide. Meanwhile, they’ll feel like Good People for liking this insulting, horrible show.