Has anyone else watched the new show on Netflix, Atypical? While some say it isn’t an accurate representation of autism or complain that their child isn’t like this, I have to say I was very impressed overall. Yes, it is a very narrow view, of a single teenager with an autism spectrum disorder, but thats the thing with ASD and people in general EVERYONE is a little bit different. A second complaint was that while you got to see the main character interact with his family, therapist, and a work collegue, you didn’t see him interact with other people on the spectrum.
That’s the thing though, every family deals with this differently, and depending on where you are and who they are, you may not have a network of autistic children, maybe he played with them when they were younger and didn’t like each other. Maybe for his particular disorder this combination of elements in his life worked.
This drama focused not only on the autistic teen, but also his family, as they tried to find ways to interact with the character. A sister who never took priority, a father who never got to do the “normal” dad thing with his son until now, and a mom who sacrificed everything to define her life around a son whose decision to try to be more independent has left her adrift.
While there are some things I didn’t get or experience like the main character, there were a few habits that resonated with me.
- Clothing-In the show they are buying a shirt in bulk because of the way the fabric feels. When the character wants to “redo” his wardrobe to get a girlfriend, dressing nicer isn’t easy. This has always been a huge difficulty of mine with dressing up. I recently got the first suit jacked I have ever worn more than once, and then a second, because the materials lets my shoulders move the way I want them to.
- Stuck in My head- He yells Twat. At an inappropriate moment, because its been stuck in his head since he heard it the day before. I sometimes wander with a word in my head for days before I finally find a way to use it. I don’t yell it at random, but the word cycling in my head, or often an idea gets stuck there. Some of my best writing starts as stuck ideas. Other times, its weirdly specific and inappropriate anywhere.
- Sensory Overload- The character is very upset at one point, and then gets on a bus, and the noise and sights on the bus push him into a full meltdown. While I have never gone full non-verbal rocking, when I am stressed I have had that moment when the sound of the ticking clock, or the reflection off a piece of glass is making me insanely upset. The moments leading up to this meltdown were a pretty close approximation of how I experience sound and light when I am on the edge of a meltdown.
- Lists-The character uses lists as a way to breakdown more complex issue. He uses a three point checklist to determine if he is in love with his girlfriend. When I don’t understand something I list it. Breakdown each points into sub points until I understand them. I also use them for planning, travel, things I have to do and things I have to buy.
While it was one narrow interpretation, I found overall Atypical was a pretty awesome show.