Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Autism has been the topic of many daytime talk shows. There was Montel Williams, Jane Pauley, Good Morning America, Oprah, Dr. Phil and The View.
Then there were the prime time shows like Super Nanny, The Closer,CSI, Scrubs, House, Without A Trace, The Ghost Whisperer, Eli Stone and ER.
In 2005 we had the NBC stations broadcast a series entitled, The Hidden Epidemic.
For reality shows there was Ameria's Next top Model with an Asperger's contestant and 2008 brought along a boy with autism on Everybody's Got Talent. There were several families with children on the autism spectrum receiving new homes from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Larry King has had many shows discussing autism as well.
There was a pilot set to air on Fox called Oaks having a female character with Asperger Syndrome.
There are some movies that depict a character with Autism as well as many magazines covering the topic in depth. There is still online access to lots of publications I have saved over the years.
We have autism showing up on many daytime shows lately. First there was All My Children that revived an old storyline that I first watched years earlier. Now this summer of 2008 has Days of Our Lives with a couple getting the diagnosis after their son goes through a battery of tests. I watched this show decades ago and tried to tune in to follow the story. I knew from the soap websites the date this would begin and tried reading the message boards since the show airs in Canada a day before the US to see what would transpire from spoilers.
I was surprised to learn that the mother on this soap is a Doctor. I tuned in the day that Dr. Marlena arrived to offer her assistance after hearing about the testing, but not knowing of the actual diagnosis. The couple did not agree on sharing this news with anyone. It was apparent that the father who is in law enforcement was embarassed that he might not be able to play ball with his son, while the wife needed some comfort and support from a colleague. I could not really follow along with the show and was not interested in the early stages of receiving a diagnosis, so I stopped viewing. From what I could tell and read online viewers are happy with the storyline.
Currently there is a night time original series airing on Soap Net for a second season known as General Hosptial Night Shift. I watch both the daytime drama and this series. There are different writers for the shows as well as sets for the Hospital. This is not a spin-off show but a stand-alone show that has their own plots and storylines that airs on Tuesday nights at 11 PM. The show is fast paced with new characters, but also mentions those from decades past in keeping with the history of General Hospital.
After thirteen years Jagger Cates portrayed by Antonio Sabato Jr has returned to Port Charles. Dr. Robin Scorpio dated his brother Stone, contracted HIV from him and stayed with him until he died of AIDS.
Jagger now has a son who is about five years of age and named Stone. They stay with Robin and she begins to notice some unusual habits of the child and suggests he get tested. I really like the portrayal of Stone from the child actor. He does not give eye contact, prefers his toys in a straight line and wants them to stay in order and is not comfortable in social situations. He makes some noises and runs away. This is at the beginning stage of the diagnsis. I like this storyline better since it shows a single parent, such as myself and the terminology is explained. The Doctor doing the testing is well knowledged in autism and explores alternative therapies in her practice and seems like a healer and not too clinical. She mentioned PDD-NOS and used the term autism spectrum disorders frequently. Next week the episode will be on therapies.
The buzz online for this storyline is very positive. Many parents with a child on the spectrum are viewing the show and have been fans of General Hospital for a long time. I saw Antonio Sabato Jr on Chelsea Lately and also Paula's Party with Paula Deen and he won Celebrity Circus.
On another note there is a character on General Hospital known as Spinelli. It was hinted at recently that he might have Asperger's Syndrome.
Then I got an email from Actors for Autism that the new Beverly Hills 90210 series is in search of a Caucasian male with autism about 25 years old to play a recurring role. I like that Lori Loughlin has been cast in this show, and liked her in Summerland and Full House. Her first role was on a soap, Edge of Night.
I like the positive vibe of portraying autism in a positive light on these shows and think they have done a great job thus far. There is a lot of emphasi on the diagnosis stage. Hopefully storylines in the future will cover special edcuation, classrooms, IEPs and socialization among peers. It would be good to see a variety of age groups profiled.
Antonio Sabato Jr interview with TV Guide
Antonio Sabato Jr in Janet Jackson Video - an awesome you tube clip from Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1991)
Discover Magazine - Autism, It's Not just in the head (March 2007)
Families struggle with autism - CBS News video
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.