Friday, September 23, 2011

Pop Culture's Embrace

You know your syndrome is popular when it pops up on t.v.  Currently we have two shows that arefeaturing Asperger's, albeit in completely different ways.

On NBC's Parenthood, we meet young Max Braverman.   The focus here is on Max's parents, and mostly how they deal with tough choices they have to make concerning him. We watched as they struggled with getting Max diagnosed, planned a dreaded birthday party, dealt with the grandfather not-really-getting-it, cringed at Max's candor.  When Max's dad lost it with a rude man at the supermarket, we equally cheered him on and felt his pain.  Now that Max has been placed back in public school, we're all holding our breath.

Parenthood puts Asperger's in a family context.  Sometimes when I'm watching I can laugh at the little things or fret right along with the parents.  We see how Max benefits from a loving support system.  We also see the eye-rolling of his classmates.  Sometimes it is a joy to watch, sometimes it is downright sobering.
And then, the polar opposite is The Big Bang Theory.  We have non-diagnosed Dr. Sheldon Cooper, complete with his rigidity, his literalness, his brilliance.  He is Aspergers to the power of a billion.  Asperger's on bust.  And I love it.

Sure, I like the show for all the same reasons as everyone else.  It's hilarious, the characters are as endearing as they are obnoxious.

But I also like it because it is to me, an Asperger's success story.   In no way, shape or form does Sheldon blend in, his autism is a fireworks display.  It's why we love him.   Sheldon is a success because he turned his areas of interest into a noteworthy career.  He is a fully independant adult (ok, with the exception of his driver's license....) and above all else, he has an active social group.

Yes, his friends find his ways downright painful at times, but overall, they accept him for who he is, they order from the right restaurants on the right nights, they play the games allocated to each weekday.  Sure, they make fun of him right to his face, but all good friends do.

I think it's fair to say that this much air time means we've made it.  Our particular disability has managed to capture the attention and imagination of the world. It's nice to see something of our lives reflected back to us, in ways that can tug at our heartstrings, or grab us right by the funny bone.

1 comment:

  1. I watch both of those shows too! Like you, I love them each for different reasons. My son has SPD and Anxiety disorder, but I see a little of Max and Sheldon in him. Great post!