Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – The new hit show The Good Doctor on ABC is about a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome. Those in the Rochester-area autism community say it’s proof Hollywood is acknowledging them, but some believe it should only be watched as entertainment.
“He doesn’t represent most people with autism,” said Sue Tharrett, whose son has autism. “No one that I know with autism is anything like that; there are very few with savant syndrome.”
Rachel Rosner of AutismUp tells 13WHAM there’s a saying in the autism community: ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.’
AutismUp said they believe the show is actually doing a disservice by highlighting an exception rather than the real challenges people face. Some of those challenges are situations Sue Tharrett’s son will endure in order to enter the workforce.
“It will take a job coach, it will take additional pre-vocational training like he is in now,” Tharrett said. “And this transition program and him sort of getting that takes a lot of contacts. Because you have to find that employee with a position that he can do, that my son can do, there are going to be ones out there.”
Aimee Gilbert, an autism specialist with the Arc of Monroe, works to help people on the spectrum enter the workforce. She sees another side to the show that could help employers become more open to hiring people who have autism.
“I think that’s what’s been really lacking in society in general, is employers don’t know the benefits that people on the spectrum can bring to them,” said Gilbert.
Barbara Wales, President and CEO of Arc of Monroe, agrees, but also cautions people who watch the show.
“It doesn’t represent everybody on the spectrum, because he really has Asperger’s Syndrome and is really very, very smart,” said Wales. “Some people who have autism may not be as intelligent, but they certainly have skills, talents and abilities.”