Thursday, January 26, 2012
Great Entertainment, Poor Reality
The new drama Touch starring Kiefer Sutherland is about a boy who, although autistic, has the ability to manipulate numbers, see patterns, and appears to be able to predict the future.
This makes for great entertainment but exacerbates the stereotypes of autism and autism reality. At least the boy is non-verbal - this is a rarity in depiction of autism although it will be interesting to see how they get him to communicate.
When we first found out A has autism, we ourselves thought this meant she would have an extraordinary gift in some area. This is called savantism, and it is actually very rare.
Jacob, the protagonist, is actually a prodigious savant. The different between regular savants and prodigious savants is that prodigious savants have a skill that would be considered unusually amazing even in a person without developmental disability. This condition is even rarer (in the above article, 50 people in the whole world).
Good entertainment, but bad for educating others about autism reality. I don't suppose people really want to watch Fly Away anyway. Too bad - that is much closer to reality.