How “The Good Doctor” May Negatively Impact Autism

The Good Doctor is a television series that many people have had great things to say about. It gets decent reviews and seems to have a dedicated audience. If you’re not familiar with the show, it deals with an autistic doctor that is extremely capable of caring for patients and knowledgeable well beyond his years, yet he constantly faces pushback from other individuals who don’t believe that he’s capable of performing in his chosen profession because of his autism.

Many people have praised the show, saying that it shows autism in a more positive light and proves that people who are on the autism spectrum are capable of doing great things. To a certain extent, it’s understandable why people would make these claims. However, there’s also a flip side to it that few people are willing to discuss. It sets unrealistic expectations for those who are moderately or severely affected by autism. Even someone who has a mild case of autism might struggle to achieve a medical degree, not to mention spending years in residency and then working to achieve some type of medical specialty. This is something that some of the most dedicated, brightest students are not able to achieve, so there is a growing concern that this show might produce unrealistic goals for people who have children that are autistic.

The reality of the situation is that autism is a spectrum, and everyone that is diagnosed with it behaves differently. Those who are mildly autistic are often able to function in many careers without anyone ever knowing that they were diagnosed to begin with. That being said, it may not be the best environment for someone when you’re talking about a career in medicine, or any other career that requires intricate communication with people or the ability to make split-second decisions. That certainly doesn’t mean that a person who is mildly autistic is incapable of having a career that allows them to stand on their own two feet. However, it does mean that they might need to set their sights on things that are a little less stressful, as autistic people don’t routinely do well with stress to begin with.

If you’re talking about someone who is moderately or severely autistic, the very idea of going to medical school and being put through the paces that students have to deal with there is extremely unrealistic. Not only that, it’s unfair to any child to expect such things of them simply because it was viewed on a television show. Unfortunately, some people watch The Good Doctor and they get all of these great expectations for their autistic children, believing that because it was done in Hollywood, it can be done in real life. For some reason, this is something that people routinely think about a number of things. They wholeheartedly believe that if they see it in a movie or on a television show, it’s completely possible. Clearly, that is not always the case. The thing about Hollywood is that it’s all make-believe. People can write a show or movie that allows characters to do virtually anything they want. That certainly doesn’t mean that things have a tendency to go that way in the real world.

If you just so happen to be the parent of an autistic child, there is certainly nothing wrong with having dreams of success for their future, nor is there anything wrong with expecting them to live up to their individual capabilities. As a matter of fact, you owe it to your child to demand that they live up to their capabilities because if you continue to do everything for them, you’re only hurting them. That being said, do try to be careful about not getting things into your head where you might expect them to do something that they’re simply not capable of doing. Remember, the good doctor is a television show and nothing more. If it brings about an honest conversation about the subject of autism, that’s wonderful. If it makes parents and other individuals start to expect more from autistic individuals than they are honestly capable of producing, then it becomes a problem. The only thing you have to decide is which side you’re on.


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