I recently came across an interesting article about a new show called "Atypical" set to premier on Netflix August 11. Here is the link. The show tells the story of Sam Gardner, an 18 year old high school senior with ASD and the struggles he faces in life especially with dating and other coming of age rituals. I am looking forward to watching "Atypical" when it comes out. I have yet to master many coming of age rituals, especially dating.
The show's creator Robia Rashid says that the series focuses on a single person, Sam, and that the show cannot universally reflect the situations and difficulties of every person with ASD. In fact, the main theme of the series is that "No one is normal.” ....But most people are never referred to as “Atypical”. The title makes me a little uneasy.
Every person on the spectrum has their own unique struggles. Have you ever heard the saying “If you’ve met one person on the Autism Spectrum... well you’ve met one person.” We are all so different from each other. I am sure that as I watch the series, I will see aspects of Sam's situation that do not particularly relate to mine. While all individuals with ASD have difficulty with certain social situations, our emotions and reactions to these situations are uniquely our own and in many ways define who we are as individuals apart from a diagnosis. The ability to appreciate the person apart from the “Atypical “ aspects is key. To focus on the differences, without great attention to what we have in common, would be exploitive. And not entertaining.
My hope is that this series will raise a greater awareness of ASD and how it affects those who are afflicted. I still encounter many people on a daily basis who fail to understand some of my different behaviors. Shows like this, if they present all sides if ASD, can help to open minds. Its a great opportunity and I hope their portrayal has the sensitive balance I’m looking for. I’ll be watching.