Television and Autism

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Educating our society is an important step for gaining acceptance of those who have been diagnosed with Autism. In this blog, I will share some of my favorite television shows.


For those who like to stream, Parenthood was dramedy that was released in 2010 based on the film by Ron Howard. One change made in the TV version, was giving Max, the son of Adam Braverman, Autism. The show does an excellent job showing the challenges for parents having a child on the Spectrum. In the show, they deal with getting the diagnosis and building the therapies. Parenthood is available on Netflix and Hulu, and other streaming channels.

The A Word

Another show that deals with some of the same challenges of the diagnosis phase and searching for treatments, is The A Word. This British show first aired in 2016 and focuses on the Hughes Family and their young son Joe who is gifted in music. Quirky and fun you can stream two seasons, with the knowledge that a third is on the way. The A Word is available on Amazon Prime.


Atypical is a show available on Netflix that focuses on Sam, a high school aged boy who has a thing for Penguins and his adorable Psychologist. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the mother who has defined herself as being Sam’s savior. In this show we Sam become more independent and how that impacts the identity of a mother who has defined herself by having a child with Autism.

The Employables

Just last month, A&E started airing The Employables. Unlike the other dramedies, this reality show focuses on success stories for individuals with Autism and tourette syndrome. Each episode features two young adults and their families. We learn about their challenges, their special talents and finally their experience of landing the right job. Those diagnosed with Autism are struggling with 90% unemployment. Shows like The Employables will hopefully help companies visualize the unique talents that an individual who is wired differently can make to their businesses. The Employables airs on Wednesday nights 1t 10PM on channel 67.

I know that there are more shows that I did not mention. For example Sesame Street has introduced Julia, a muppet with Autism. Even the 1982 medical show, St. Elsewhere featured Dr. Westphall’s son, Tommy, a young boy with Autism. Although I love both Sesame Street and St. Elsewhere, I wanted to focus on the shows that were both entertaining and connected to my experience of being a parent of a child on the spectrum.

Please share the shows and movies that have touched you.

Vu Story: College

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A Look Back at College

What was it like in college for me? Back in high school, college meant I would have the freedom to do the things that I liked. Unlike others, my college experience was mundane. Although I wish I had joined clubs, I was happy with the way things were. I was happy because I got to do the things I wanted to do. Going out to party was out of my comfort zone. I spent most of my college years watching movies and shows and playing video games. It’s embarrassing to admit this but it’s best to be honest and transparent.

Adam and Me

One movie I could relate to was Adam. Adam is a story about a man named Adam with High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s. He lives in New York and struggles to live after his father’s death. He’s been laid off from his engineering job because he couldn’t socialize and connect with his boss and co-workers. He needs to find a job right away to pay the bills for his New York home or he gets kicked out. He meets this beautiful neighbor named Beth. Beth is a schoolteacher who has feelings for Adam. The two get together and go through the ups and downs of being girlfriend and boyfriend.

Adam is a movie where I find a lot of commonality with the main character. A lot of the things Adam does remind me of myself. When Adam trembles at the thought of going out to a party with Beth, I am reminded of how I’m always like that when it comes to socializing. He would pretend he’s not there so that Beth would leave.  When I’m invited to parties, I get very nervous exactly like Adam did. At times, I feel like my heart is going to pop out of my chest. What I love about the movie is that when I’m watching it, I feel like I’m watching myself through Adam. As someone who is on the spectrum, watching movies like Adam is a way for me to immerse myself in the fictional world.

Watching movies wasn’t my only hobby. I also liked watching TV shows. I recently saw a show called Atypical and I thought it was amazing. What makes this show so relatable is the main character. He’s on the spectrum like Adam and he struggles with social queues. When I watch shows like this, I can feel the realness and sensitive side to them. The depiction of High Functioning Autism is on point. His lack of eye contact, sensory processing issues, blurting out inappropriate things, not being able to read other feelings, social struggles, his obsession with one subject, his outbursts and all the way to his food preferences are all I can relate to. I love shows like that.

Socializing Through Video Games

For me socializing during college was playing a game called Clash of Clans. I remember exactly the moment I downloaded the game. I was bored one October night in 2012. I wanted to look for something to do to pass the time. Looking back, I should’ve done something more productive. But I don’t regret it. Playing Clash of Clans has given me a sense of community and belonging. I would chat to the people I’ve met through the game day after day. It’s like a second family to me. Some of us are still in that clan to this day.

Sure, my college experience would’ve been much better had I known to join clubs but that wasn’t my interest. I didn’t have any interests besides gaming and watching movies. My school didn’t have any of those clubs so I spent most of my days going to school and then driving home. I would have loved to join a gaming club or something that I would enjoy.

What I Learned as an Intern

What I’ve found being in an intern at the Orange County Asperger’s Support Group is that people who have the same mindset as you do are more likely to be more understanding. I can feel it and then feel more comfortable. I would imagine being in a gaming club could have the same effect. Seeing someone who likes video games is easier to talk to because we both can have something in common to talk about. I’m not the best with small talks but with video games, I can keep a conversation going. I can talk to gamers and feel comfortable. It makes it easier when you have something to talk about instead of blank thoughts. It’s very awkward to have silence in a conversation.

What will the future hold for me is still very hard to fathom. One thing for sure is that I’ll have to become more independent and less sensitive to the things around me. Life is very hard and the one that is willing to put in the work will make it out on top.