Freddie Highmore was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Shaun Murphy on The Good Doctor.
Now, as an autistic person, I think he’s done a great job of playing a character who is his own individual person. Shaun Murphy has a distinct personality as well as a past, aspirations, motivations, wants, needs and flaws. He doesn’t feel to me like a really bad cookie cutter of “random senseless behavior because hey this character is autistic” that tends to plague actors who play autistic characters. Scenes from Shaun’s POV show what drives his behaviors and tendencies. The “savant” stuff appears to be a really good memory and may also be his visual thinking, which is often portrayed by showing him mentally assembling or disassembling things.
I know the writers and crew are neurotypicals, but it feels like they’re really doing homework instead of showing what they *think* autism is. Freddie said in a Facebook Q & A that autistic consultants are helping with the show, so there is that. (Now let’s get the whole bunch away from Autism Speaks, blaaaah!)
The show’s creators stated that Shaun is supposed to just be Shaun, not a representative of all of autism everywhere. Everybody presents their autism a little bit differently, so of course Shaun may or may not remind you of you or an autistic person you know. I happen to share similar autistic traits to him, such as clasping my hands together (done that all my life!) and the way Shaun moves his body is similar to how I move mine.
But there is a double standard out there that NTAB* people often engage in regarding autistic / disabled people. I’m going to say “autistic” a lot below, but you can imagine “disabled” is there, too. Please take note of what I’m pointing out.
Neurotypicals who pretend to be autistic for movies or your TV screens get rewarded for acting in a way unnatural to them, and their ‘autism’ disappears as soon as the director yells “Cut!”
Actual autistic people who behave their normal way are judged, bullied, called cringey, excluded, are shut away and some of us get abused and murdered by our caregivers.
Nobody yelling “Cut!” is going to make autistic people stop being autistic. We are often forced to act neurotypical via damaging therapies, and those of us trapped in a 24 / 7 acting job never see any reward for it.
We, as autistic people, have to listen to parents saying they wish we were never born or how they wish they could change us to be the person they “wanted” instead of who we are. We have to hear about people longing to cure and prevent us. We have to listen to charities talk about what tragedies we are and how burdensome we are on our families. We deal with being dismissed, spoken over, ignored and silenced.
Somebody can play us on TV and get rewarded and lauded for it, but us being ourselves is something to mock and destroy.
This is the truth any time an able-bodied actor takes on the role of a disabled person. It sends a message that disability is only acceptable if it can go away as soon as a director yells “Cut!”
We live in a society that rewards people who pretend to be autistic for entertainment, but shuns actually autistic people in the real world.
It’s a very dangerous double standard.
Please be aware of it.
-( Anyone can reblog, and I encourage you to reblog so this spreads around. )-