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To wish that, just for once, there would be a programme made about low functioning autistic people?

(207 Posts)
SharkiraSharkira Tue 17-Oct-17 23:35:06

I admit this is a sensitive subject for me as I have a 'low functioning' autistic child but....

I think it's great that ASD is becoming more well known and more understood, so to speak. People know more about it, are willing to talk about it. They are happier to portray it in TV and movies. This is all good as it gives the condition more exposure.

However. It always seems to be the same kind of autism portrayed. The high functioning ones. The ones who are savants or gifted at something. The ones who can have relationships, jobs, and live independently. This was all triggered by an advert for a new drama I saw who's main character is a brilliant doctor/surgeon who happens to be autistic.

But I can't recall ever seeing a programme or film (admittedly I haven't seen them all) that shows the other side of autism. The ones who headbang or are incontinent. The ones who cannot live independently or have a job, ever.

I'm not saying that programmes about higher functioning ASD are bad, just that it would be nice to see on screen a situation/person that relates to ASD that is vaguely familiar. So many of them, as a parent of someone who is severely affected, just don't resemble my experience at all. They may as well be different conditions entirely.

Aibu to wish that for once producers/filmmakers etc would show the other side of autism?

Seeingadistance Tue 17-Oct-17 23:42:02

No, you're not being unreasonable.

DixieNormas Tue 17-Oct-17 23:42:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wobblywonderwoman Tue 17-Oct-17 23:46:09

I agree. It is hugely positive to show the strengths asd can have but the difficulties are immense. I think that was a big factor in getting rid of the term 'aspergers' at diagnosis.

arethereanyleftatall Tue 17-Oct-17 23:46:41


Cakescakescakes Tue 17-Oct-17 23:47:44

I whole heartedly agree OP. My DS is somewhere inbetween so sort of falls between the cracks I think. People seem to have two ideas of what autistic children are like - either the super gifted high functioning genius with a specialist areas of knowledge etc or the child with very severe autism, non verbal, SLD etc.

My son is in between - very limited verbal ability, can’t write or ride a bike, several years behind emotionally and socially, yet is funny and affectionate (when not having a mega meltdown 😜). I’ve never seen an autistic kid like him on TV.

GlitterGlassEye Tue 17-Oct-17 23:54:31

I think it would be nice to see. I have a distant relative who has 5 degrees, all professional, science, maths, engineering based. But unfortunately has always lived at home, never had a job or a relationship and this may be why a programme has never been made. He’d never agree to it.

campion Wed 18-Oct-17 00:08:33

I see where you're coming from as I often wish they'd make a programme about high functioning ASD people who are not in relationships,don't have a job,don't live independently and don't accept their diagnosis (and cause their parents a whole lot of stress and anxiety as a free extra). Who still dominate the household into
adulthood and are,at best,tricky to deal with.

Thing is,it wouldn't make uplifting viewing,rather like discussing the downside of dementia, so the ones they focus on are all resolutely positive.

You may guess I have some experience here and I get v fed up with it too! My Ds is super bright in some ways but it hasn't really helped him to succeed in any of the above-not for want of support. The programmes make it look as though we've been doing it all wrong-how else to interpret it -so I just feel annoyed and frustrated if I watch them. Fantastic for the subjects concerned-success against all the odds and all that. Bit less fantastic on this sofa.

Not a positive response but I do empathise though I realise you're in a different situation.

SweetCrustPastry Wed 18-Oct-17 00:22:30

So I heard a guy on the radio saying that he really objects to the term "high functioning" and he has a point. No-one asks if you are a high-functioning neurotypical person, or a high-functioning blind person, or a high functioning left-handed person.
I saw that earlier but have just watched the Chris Packham thing and he looked at a range of people young old, dependent, independent and most importantly highlighted the impact on his family and the
shocking prospects for employment for most people who are autistic.

MrsOverTheRoad Wed 18-Oct-17 00:26:46

YANBU. They take the most "saleable"aspects of Autism and show those because they're "inspiring".

Producers are notoriously lacking in imagination and guts...they think we can cope with watching a drama about a child "with issues" only if that child doesn't do anything people might find hard to watch.

Oh it's fine to watch a child actor show a meltdown as long as the child is easy on the eye and then does something marvelously "savant -like"

It's similar to the whole race issue where people of certain races are portrayed as "a bit magical" or something.

OP I hear you.

GrockleBocs Wed 18-Oct-17 00:29:46

Yanbu. We had a reminder recently that some of the posts on our autism support group were making LF parents feel a bit shit and that's true. I know it's a spectrum but it can feel like totally different disabilities depending on the function.
Telly is a bit hopeless at doing inconvenient disability. Or indeed divergence. Disability is mostly a plot device rather than a mundane incidental bit of someone's life.

MrsOverTheRoad Wed 18-Oct-17 00:29:57

Dixie that's nonsense. Of course it would be interesting if it were well-written.

Many, excellent dramas have been made about all kinds of challenging subjects.

Child abuse

They're hardly glam subjects are they!?

What makes a drama compulsive, is the window into another world which it offers. The way people might cope...or not cope with the challenges they're given.

How the issues affect the family and how the love that family feels for their child is just as strong as the love another family feels for their neurotypical child.

AuntieRoberta Wed 18-Oct-17 00:31:04

It's a really old programme - 1980s - but "St Elsewhere" had such a character. His father was Chief of Staff or something like that at the titular hospital , and also was a single parent whose wife had died. A lot of care for the child who was probably 10/12 at the start of the series fell on his slightly older sister.

If I remember correctly, the character was non-verbal and didn't respond when anyone, for example, tried to hug him. I remember it as quite heartbreaking at times.

An interesting side note: one of the main characters was a youngish Denzel Washington.

DrCoconut Wed 18-Oct-17 00:42:29

Cakes, my DS is in between too. He's nearly 19 now and totally incapable of leaving home. He needs help with day to day living. He's at college and in a class for students with SEN having tried a more mainstream group unsuccessfully. He's about 14 developmentally and very vulnerable but he is also quite witty and really wants to be independent. He can walk to and from college now but when I see other people's kids going off to uni, joining the army etc it really shows just how far he has to go to catch up. Yet I'm grateful that he is not more severely affected too.

hendrick Wed 18-Oct-17 00:45:12

YADNBU. I find it hard to watch a lot of programmes about autism now, because they remind me how far behind my DS is, not just behind NT people but even those on the spectrum. I'm autistic and I'm HF in some ways, but I've never held down a job and struggle to live independently.

There's a great film called The Black Balloon which is a great drama with an autistic character and it shows the meltdowns etc. The Louis Theroux documentary covered some real challenges too. But I think the public like being entertained with the quirks of high functioning autistics and they relate to them more because they feel they're more like them. I do feel it's damaging in some ways because people get an impression of autism as something that is easily overcome, and can't understand it if you say your child is never going to manage to do certain things, as if they could just be like those people if you/they tried a bit harder.

PeachMelbaPud Wed 18-Oct-17 00:48:44


GirlInASwirl Wed 18-Oct-17 00:51:10

I agree OP - more should be available about ALL diagnoses on the spectrum. Considering it is so prevalent in the population; I can't think why has not been done before - and isolation felt by families with children/adults with the condition is totally unnecessary.

It's about recognising contributions of others in the household, part of campaigning for better support services, starting wider community discussions and ultimately helping every person succeed.

I feel frustrated that all support services in my area are focussed on children and low functioning adults. My partner was diagnosed with PDD (NOS) last year (at age 39). Just because someone is high functioning does not mean that they just fly through life and are appreciated for their 'genius'. In trying to 'cover up' his Autistic traits he has also developed Oppositional Defiance Disorder and other mental health concerns. All of which mean that he can be extremely challenging to be around - drives me insane!

I would love to see realistic high functioning characters on TV - warts and all. No comedic portrayal (I can't enjoy Big, Bang Theory' anymore) or 'heroes in waiting' - just sensitive and clever writing about the subtle things that grate on families everyday.

potatoscowls Wed 18-Oct-17 01:02:24

unfortunately autism is only really ever discussed in the following circumstances:
-this person was nice to an autistic child, wow how amazing they are
-this autistic person is awkward and rude but a rocket scientist
-this autistic person thinks they can date, har har har
and a bunch of stuff about how everyone is so amazing for accommodating an autistic person in their lives, wow they're so patient and kind and giving....
Never any notion of autistic people actually, like, having feelings and not just being an opportunity for everyone else to virtue signal...
sorry, it's late and im feeling ranty ;)

citychick Wed 18-Oct-17 01:17:05

hi OP
Louis Thereux (sp?) made 2 programmes for Netflix.
one about families whose children have autism and one on dementia.
both very harrowing and made in USA.
do u think that's what you are looking for?

DixieNormas Wed 18-Oct-17 01:30:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yourownworstenemy Wed 18-Oct-17 01:44:48

If you're talking about the Chris Peckham programme i thought the same, I found it very interesting as it was but I often feel like programs like this group all asds together and the fact is from one end of the spectrum to the other is a huge difference!

I found it a little hard to swallow when the doctor at the aba school said he would cure autism and this upset Chris and the guy at the big firm that employed some asd people, this may not be something they would chose as 'high functioning' but it certainly might seem appealing to the parents of a child who will never speak or be able to use the bathroom appropriately, never want a cuddle, be unable to cope with life outside of 1 room, who physically harms themselves to the point of hospitalization etc, I felt that was a little insulting tbh

WanderingTrolley1 Wed 18-Oct-17 02:18:48


MrsOverTheRoad Wed 18-Oct-17 02:43:24

Dixie why not? Do you imagine the entire film or series would focus on those aspects? hmm

BitOfFun Wed 18-Oct-17 02:53:34

I completely agree. It's frustrating, because obviously we love our children, and they can inspire joy and empathy in us- I would have thought that would be a great tooic for drama.

Piewraith Wed 18-Oct-17 02:59:52

It's difficult because if someone did do that the response would be "How dare they! This show is making autistic people look bad. Dont they know people with autism aren't all like that, how ignorant and disablist".

I have read a few articles like this and those are always the comments.

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