I've been watching some negative posts and comments coming across autism sites and blogs about Fox's new show "Touch" which features a boy who (although they don't come right out and say it in the show) has Autism. Most of the negative reaction has been speaking to the media's tendency to show people with Autism as having some mystical, magical powers which for those of us in the trenches of Autism....we know this isn't the case. I DVR'd this show last week and after hearing my husband say "You have GOT to watch that show", I finally saw it last night. My reaction....Awesome! Wow! I think the creators of the show absolutely nailed it! While they do show this boy as having some kind of a magical way to link people and events by connecting numbers together before the events happen....they also totally nail many of the emotions and occurances within the lives of many families living with someone with Autism.
-You see a dad struggling to find some way to communicate with his son. You can tell he knows there is far more to his son than what you see on the outside, but can't find a way to connect.
-I saw the same panic and frustration in the dad's face that we recently experienced when he hears that his son has run away from school for the 3rd time and climbed a cell tower. Constant fear for the safety of your child, constantly feeling like they aren't safe unless you are the one watching them. Yep, I can relate.
-The dad has a "conversation" with his son where he comments, "You know, the doctor says your going to be bigger than me someday. What are we going to do then?" Thinking too far ahead is a scary thing, but we all do it. Will he be able to live independently? Will he be able to have a job? Will he be able to hold a conversation? What am I going to do when he is too big for me to pick him up and get him to safety when he enters a place/situation that isn't safe? What will happen to him when we're gone? All questions that are frightening to any parent of a child with Autism.
-I loved the scene where the dad is sitting in the car with his son, then gazes over to a school bus full of "typical kids". He doesn't say anything, but you can see it in his face. Every parent of a child with Autism has had that moment when you think....why did God have to make my kid so different?
-A social worker comes into their lives who thinks she knows what is best for this child. She actually askedthe father, "Do you think he even knows who you are?" I admit, this made me want to smack her, but she later redeems herself and appears to become an advocate for the father and son. I remember reading one of Jenny McCarthy's books shortly after Wyatt was first diagnosed. She details a conversation she had with a doctor who was evaluating her son. He asked her as part of a long list of questions you are asked during the diagnostic phase something to the effect of, "Does your son tell you he loves you". To which she says, "The love he shows me is louder than words". I vividly remember sobbing and sobbing and sobbing after reading that passage because she is so right. Your child doesn't have to be able to say "I love you" in order to show love to you, your child doesn't have to make eye contact with you to know you are there for them.
All things considered, it's a great show. I'm hooked after one episode. I know it glamorizes some of the compulsion that many with autism have for order, organization, and numbers. But it also makes a good point that kids and adults with Autism do have special ways to contribute to society, they are valuable, and they are capable of love (in their own way), communication ( in their own way), and productivity (in their own way). WE as their parents, teachers, and as a society just need to figure out how their minds work and to figure out how to help them connect between their own internal world and our world. I have no doubt that in doing so we will enable them to be able to be productive members of society. In fact, I have no doubt that many with Autism will emerge as some of the brightest and most innovative minds of this century!