Sunday, November 12, 2017

Watching Atypical: Similarities and Differences In My Son With Autism

Atypical is a show on Netflix about a teenager with autism. His name is Sam, and he's 18. He has decided he wants a girlfriend, and will do what he can to get one.

Only it's not as easy as he hopes. People with autism aren't the best with social cues, and they can be awkward. Neutrotypicals don't always know how to react or deal with people with autism. A lot of them don't bother to try, which is a shame.

As I watched the show, I thought of my own son Tommy, who has autism. He's 15 and also would like a girlfriend but it's difficult for him because he doesn't talk to a lot of people.

I saw similarities and differences between my son and Sam. And here are some of them.






1. Tommy doesn't wear headphones like Sam does in high school. Sam wears them because it helps cancel out all the noises. When Tommy was smaller, he hated noises, but he has gotten much better with coping. He still isn't a fan of sudden loud noises, like fire alarms, but most of them are pre-planned, so he can prepare.



2. As I mentioned before, like Sam, he wants a girlfriend. He's always asking me how to get one. I tell him to be himself, to always be polite, and to never ask a girl when she's cranky if she's on her period. (And he says this to me: "There was a cranky girl at school, but I knew not to ask if it was because she was on her period.")


3. Tommy doesn't drive even though he could get his learner's permit. He's not interested. Sam is 18 and doesn't drive either. He takes the bus. This is most likely what Tommy will do.


4. My son doesn't have a job. Granted, he's only 15, and in a few years he'll figure out what he wants to do. He knows FOR SURE he does NOT want to be in the Air Force like his Daddy because "I like my hair long."




5. In Atypical, Sam relies a lot on his sister, who is a few years younger than him. I think he's a senior and she's a freshman. She watches over him, gives him his lunch money, things like that. Tommy is 15 and Natalie is 10 so she isn't really a protector. Granted, she would tell someone where they could go if they made fun of Tommy, but I would never put all sorts of responsibilities on her. I think parents who do this are wrong. It is NOT the sister or the brother's job to have to take care of their sibling with autism. The neurotypical sibling NEEDS to have their own life.


6. Sam's Dad struggles to talk with him at times. Yup, this is true with Tommy's Dad. In the show, Sam's Dad said his son was "not like anyone he's ever met before." My husband Tom feels the same, I'm sure. My husband is one of those macho military men, and Tommy has poor gross motor skills. You know how a lot of fathers think, "I can't wait to toss a baseball around with him," when they find out they're having a son? I'm sure my husband thought this and then realized early on that his son would never do this with him because he can barely hold a ball properly.




7. Tommy doesn't mind if you call him autistic. In the show, when his parents are at an autism support group, the dad is chastised for calling him "autistic" and is urged to use "people-first" language. So you'd say, "People with autism" which essentially is the same thing. My son doesn't care. I really don't care. There's so much more to worry about in the world.


8. Tommy doesn't really have friends. Sam has his co-worker Zahid and (finally) a girlfriend. Tommy says he is an introvert and doesn't really speak to anyone at school. He communicates with people online since he has a YouTube channel, and of course he communicates with family, but that's about it.


9. He probably wouldn't go to a dance, even if it was silent. In Atypical, his girlfriend requests a silent dance where everyone wears headphones with the music coming out of them. That way it's not too loud for Sam.


10. It's not okay to cheat on your spouse because you're dealing with autism. In the show, it really bothered me that the mom cheated and seemed to imply that it was because she's been dealing with autism for 18 years. Sorry, no excuse. Keep your pants zipped. It is difficult, because odds are, it's the mother dealing with mostly everything because she tends to know her kid the best. In my house, I'm the one that knows how to calm Tommy down. I'm the one who arranges and goes to IEP meetings. I'm the one that teachers call if there is a problem. I'm the one who worries what happens when Tommy finishes high school. I'm the one who will do anything to protect my son.



11. Tommy does watch groups of neurotypicals and remembers their mannerisms and sayings like Sam. Sam actually wrote down phrases that he heard. Tommy will say them to me. "What's good?" or, "What's up, homie?" but in a robotic tone, because it's not really HIS words, it's words he's heard from students around him.


12. Sam is obsessed with penguins. He'll randomly spout out facts about them, not realizing the people around him aren't interested. Tommy knows tons of info about weather and will go on about the different clouds, not understanding that others might not care to know about wall clouds.




I will note that some people with autism did not enjoy the show. They called it dehumanizing, and it's their opinion. My son has NOT seen the show yet. I personally liked it and as I mentioned, Sam reminds me of Tommy in a lot of ways. If you're curious, here's a preview of the show:




And good news! There WILL be a season two.


If you've seen Atypical, did you like it?






53 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this show yet! I will definitely check it out. There's never any excuse for cheating though...I really hate when shows do that!

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  2. I haven't seen this show yet! It sounds really interesting and a show I would like. I will say, I would NOT like the cheating part. Like you said, there is no excuse for cheating.

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  3. I haven't seen the show yet. However, I would like to checkout season one. Not sure why the show had to add the cheating part.

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  4. Never seen this show but this post made me google for it and I feel to start with episode 1 sooner

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  5. I haven't seen this one, but I really want to watch it. I've been looking for something new to watch on Netflix. Why do they seem to always throw a cheating spouse into every TV show out there?

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  6. I've never heard of this show, but it sounds like a good one. I will have to add this to my binge list.

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  7. This sounds like a very unique show. I am sure it will help a lot of folks understand this disorder.

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  8. Sounds like a fantastic show to raise awareness of how life really is for those with autism. I love how similar the characteristics are and how you explained it here. I need to check this show out.

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  9. You've made me want to check this show out. The doctor I worked for has an autistic son and I've always tried to understand what it's like for him.

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  10. I haven’t watched, but I love The Good Doctor on ABC! :)

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  11. I haven't seen this show, but have wanted to watch it. (I have a huge list of shows that I try and keep up with) Maybe Tommy will be a Meteorologist one day! Oh, and I agree with you about that mom cheating on the show...wow! Tv seems to like to sneak in all sorts of things like that. :-/

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  12. Very interesting. I wanted to watch the show but I wasn’t sure if it’s true to real life. Now i want to definitely watch it.

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  13. We haven't seen this show but have watched the Good Doctor and enjoy that show very much. All children are different and I am sure your son will figure it all out, he is only 15.

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  14. "I like my hair long!" so funny!
    It sounds a very interesting and different show, I'll watch it!

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  15. Btw I wonder how many girls already have a crush on him ;)

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  16. I couldn't agree more on point number 10. Indeed cheating is really not an excuse. Reading this makes me hope for the best with Tommy. I know since you are with his side, everything will be alright.

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  17. I haven't seen this show yet either. I love how you were able to personally relate to some of the things in the show.

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  18. This sounds like a very interesting show. While I never heard of it, now I am intrigued and would love to check it out.

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    1. It really does sound like an interesting show and a unique insight perhaps.

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  19. I really love how you are open about this...but I dont see why one shouldnt as there is nothing to be ashame about but the reality is there are many who would! Thanks to you and the serie I hope a lot of kids and ADULTS out there try to understand better other who are a little bit different.

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  20. I have heard of the show but never watched it. I am not really familiar with autism so I would not have been able to tell if the show matches reality.

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  21. Haven't seen this show yet! But definitely check out this weekend, thanks for sharing

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  22. I haven't seen the show Atypical yet but perhaps I shall have a watch, it sounds like they have done it really well.

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  23. Sorry it posted before I was finished with my comment.

    I haven't heard of this new show on Netflix yet. Love that they are showing more shows with individuals with Autism & other developmental disabilities. It shows the world another side.

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  24. I am so glad that autism is getting more attention, it means that more people will be able to find support and the funding to find treatments and training.

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  25. I haven't seen Atypical. I have definitely heard a lot of opinions about it though, both good and bad.

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  26. I discovered the show in September a month after it had aired and I have already binge watched it twice as its an amazing show. I believe that in some ways the show has thrown together every autism trait that they can think of but at the same time its still an educational, heart warming and at times sad show x

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  27. Oh wow, I never heard of this show before. Sounds very interesting. Thank you for sharing this and your story.

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  28. It's really cool that there were a few things your son could relate to. I think I'm going to watch this show with my daughter!

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  29. Wow I’m interested to watch this show on Netflix now after reading your post! It’s so great when a show is personally relatable - it feels more powerful that way

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  30. I'm really glad you wrote this post since some people are under the impression it is all the same way for those on the spectrum when that is certainly not the case. My spouse is on the spectrum, although he comes across as neurotypical to people that don't really know him. It's hard at times, especially as his wife, but it is just something I have chosen to accept rather than give up on a wonderful person.

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  31. It's very interesting to learn about autism from a parent's viewpoint, not just from an article online. I love that Hollywood is now incorporating different characters in their programming that better reflect normal society as a whole. Thank you so much for sharing about your sweet son and the trials and joys he faces as he's become a teenager.

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  32. Ok this is a sign I need to watch Atypical. My dad was talking about this show last night and he likes it. I want to see if there are any similarities with my 30 yr old autistic brother it would be interesting to see this show about autistim and the authenticity of it.1

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  33. I have never seen the show, but reading your writing makes me really grateful for the awareness you have brought to me, and others about autism. I do believe that everyone has a sacred path in life, and that Tommy is a wise spiritual teacher who is here blessing the world exactly by being who he is. Blessings to you both <3

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  34. I guess sometimes it is okay to compare kids to others but sometimes a bit frustrating as well. I am sure that Tommy is in good hands though as you are there to guide him.

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  35. I love your practicality in life, it's very inspiring. Political correctness is way overrated, we can't call things that way it is. We have to dance around and it's just the same thing. I admire you very much!

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  36. It's so great that there are shows that feature a main character that has autism. It helps break the stigma of talking about different mental illnesses, and just brings awareness to what people go through

    Sondra xx
    prettyfitfoodie.com

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  37. I've never heard of this show but it sounds like a good one. I'm to check out the first season.

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  38. I am so glad you shared this!!! My son Henry is 16 and sounds so much like your Tommy! Like almost in every instance, they are identical! No girlfriend, but wants one, no interest in driving, not sure if he wants to work yet, etc. It is so nice to hear from other moms with kids like ours! Whew!

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  39. I work at a children's hospital and work with autistic kids every shift. I have a good eye for it now.

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  40. I think Atypical is a must watch, very inspiring! I like how this show reflects the typical struggle and life of people with autism, they can live a normal life too.

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  41. I did notice the mention of using people first language and appreciated it. I do feel anyone with a special need or disability is a person and should be referred to as such and not as their disability.

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  42. I have never seen this show but you really spiked my interest in it. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are the best parents Tommy could ever have!

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  43. That show gets me in the feels sometimes. My kids don't have autism but I have friends who kids who have autism and I know it's hard!

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  44. Sounds like you can really relate to this show. I, too, don't agree with the mom cheating on her spouse to "deal" with the issues in her home.

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  45. I'll be looking out for this. From your story, this is something that I would definitely love to watch. Autism should be understood and accepted.

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  46. I had to go back here and check out the name of the show because I am curious about it. I wanna watch it to and see how it is. I hope there are more awareness for people related to autism.

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  47. I will definitely have to check out this show on Netflix. I am curious as to what you think of the show The Good Doctor. Just because of the autism involved in that show as well.

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  48. This new series looks interesting! I'm glad there are shows like that talks about awareness about autism. I hope there will be more series like this not just in NetFlix but also in mainstream TV.

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  49. I have watched most of Season 1 and I really enjoyed it! Definitely gave me more awareness on autism. I did wonder if you liked it or not!

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  50. It's always nice when you can find common grounds with a show. I'll have to check it out this week. Sounds like a good show to watch with the kids.

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  51. So interesting to read. I was watching The Good Doctor last night and wondering how it measured up.

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Thanks for the comment!

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