Showing What Autism Feels Like

I have been watching “The Good Doctor” recently. It is my favorite show I have ever seen because I relate to so much of what the doctor goes through. I have read online that this show has caused a lot of controversy in the autism community. Some people even refuse to watch the show because they feel that someone with autism should play the main character or be more involved in the filmmaking. Another reason people are opposed to the show is that it only shows a narrow view of autism. It shows the experience of “the autistic savant”, which is not how most people with autism experience the disorder.

I understand these concerns, and I understand the desire to have more people’s experiences shown on television and in movies, but I understand it even more after watching this show. The Good Doctor is everything I ever wanted to show people about my autism but never had the ability to communicate. I encourage everyone close to me to watch the show because it so accurately portrays my thoughts and feelings. I look forward to every episode because it shows all of the things that I cannot show and tells them in a way I could never do. I wish that everyone could have this experience. I wish that everyone could refer their friends or family to a particular character, or even episode of a show, and say that is my experience- that is what it feels like to be me.

I have spent my life trying to hide everything about me that could be considered autistic. I have succeeded in this to the point that even therapists did not believe that I had autism. I remember one particular school counselor in high school that told me I had a hard time making friends because of my level of intelligence. She said that I probably did not relate to the other students that had lower IQ levels than me, which was interesting because she did not even believe me when I told her my IQ level and said it was probably 40 points lower than I stated. Anyway, the point is that I am very good at hiding my autism, and my intelligence helps me to do that.

Sometimes, though, I would like people close to me to understand what I go through. Even though I do not like to “be autistic”, I would like my friends and family to see how hard certain things are for me. However, I have trained myself to not show autistic traits, and I cannot force myself to show my feelings, even to the people I trust the most. The only time that you can tell I have autism is when I have a mental breakdown, which makes it too late to explain my feelings and rarely happens around other people.

I understand that not everyone with autism is a savant or a genius or relates to Dr. Shawn Murphy in “The Good Doctor”, but it is important to have shows like this. It is important to show someone’s experience. Even if it may not be the experiences of the majority of people with a disorder, it is a step towards explaining the unexplainable. It is a way for someone to understand the experiences of another. I hope that they make a lot more shows like this. I hope that they make more shows that try to exemplify the experience of a particular group of people. This show has meant so much to me over the past few months. It has been a source of comfort and commiseration. I hope everyone is able to experience that someday.

A Hero Still

I know that loads of people are writing about Robin Williams and I hate to be one of the crowd, but I just have to say something about his death.

Robin Williams was my hero. He wasn’t an actor for me, he was a person. He wasn’t a comedian to me, he was a father figure.

This blog is about autism, but it is also my journey to find myself and who I am and where I fit in the world. Robin Williams is the symbol of that for me. His life was the quest to find himself. I don’t know if he did find himself or not, but the journey is the part that matters to me. His journey gave me hope when I was the lonely, depressed kid.

And even though his journey may not have a happy ending, it still gives me hope because it shows that he didn’t have all the answers. It shows that he still struggled and so it is okay for me to still struggle. And through his death, I hope others will find the hope to keep struggling. The suicide of a hero doesn’t mean we have to lose all hope for ourselves. It means we can hope and take solace in the idea that even the great struggle. We aren’t alone in our brokenness.

So Robin Williams is still my hero. Maybe it’s my autistic side, but I’m not really sad that he died because to me he isn’t dead and will never be dead because his hope still lives in me and I will pass on that hope to everyone around me. I love you, Robin Williams.