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Are stereotypical depictions of autism worse than none at all?

(12 Posts)
NoHaudinMaWheest Wed 22-Mar-17 09:38:35

DD and I were thinking about this yesterday after seeing a news item about some children's programmes which are introducing characters with autism.
Sesame Street is going to have a character 'on the autistic spectrum' and CBeebies is having a cartoon series in which the mainly animal characters portray various autistic characteristics.
The small clip of Sesame Street they showed seemed to be very stereotypical (about flapping) but it was only short.
The CBeebies one from the short clip seemed better and it is voiced by children who are autistic.

But we wondered if such programmes would only reinforce what the general public think they know about autism or if it would be genuinely educational.

PolterGoose Wed 22-Mar-17 11:30:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NoHaudinMaWheest Wed 22-Mar-17 11:40:21

Yes I understand both your points. I think the CBeebies one sounded better because there was a range of presentations in different characters.

I think it would be better for the character's autism to gradually emerge as it often would in real life. Perhaps that would be too subtle for young children though?

PolterGoose Wed 22-Mar-17 12:10:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Wed 22-Mar-17 20:04:32

It makes my heart sink. sad

PolterGoose Wed 22-Mar-17 20:19:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Wed 22-Mar-17 20:29:03

I suppose because flapping and echolalia and eye contact are NOT what autism is. I'm so tired of feeling lonely in the crowd and this feels like no one watching will feel "they're autistic like that".
Ds is 11 and I'm still not sure what autism is, but I know it isn't a more piercing gaze and I know it isn't needing plainer clothes.

TattyDevine Wed 22-Mar-17 20:46:00

I can't help thinking it is unlikely to be a bad thing overall, but is likely to need plenty of tweaking and will hopefully progress from here?

elliejjtiny Wed 22-Mar-17 22:03:36

I'm on the fence too. I think it's a good thing that children who have disabilities are being represented on children's TV. But at the same time I don't have much hope that they will do it right. Ds2 asked me a few weeks ago why when ds4 is in hospital most of the children there have long term serious illnesses but on TV and in books most children in hospital have bumped their heads or had their tonsils out. I'm skeptical about how they will portray the characters. I think it will be quite confusing for children watching if they get this wrong.

NoHaudinMaWheest Thu 23-Mar-17 10:09:18

I think children's programmes do tend to go for the obvious outward signs (e.g. in programmes about religion it tends to be mainly about dress, food and festivals). Maybe given the age that is inevitable though I think children can understand more that we give them credit for.
I wonder about highlighting obvious signs like flapping and echolalia as I think at the stage Sesame Street is aimed at children tend just to accept that that is what x does. Older children will be more critical but can also understand more.

Ellie your ds2 has a good point. I suppose it is meant to make hospital less scary for children but I am not sure how much hiding reality is helpful either for those who do have long term serious conditions or for those children who don't have direct experience of hospital treatment but who may have friends or relatives who do.

youarenotkiddingme Thu 23-Mar-17 19:01:19

Interesting discussion.

I'm plonking myself firmly on the fence with others. wink

I think if done sensitively it could be a useful educational tool.

I like the idea of lots of animals all with autism all showing different presentations. Theoretically it sounds like it could portray the spectrum.

I wish there was more educational around the spectrum of presentations and needs. The biggest barrier to getting support we had in ds old school was that they had a policy of "we do this for our asc students". But of course they were as different and unique as the other students!

JustAnotherSilentOldNumber Thu 23-Mar-17 19:05:01

Sometimes it's okay....

I mean.... Rowan Atkinson kind of created a sterotypical Autistic character before autism was a thing that was linked to most of the MR Bean traits.... that character is brilliant.

Sorry i've been watching Mr Bean.

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