As a parent with two out of three children on the autistic spectrum, I nodded with many points by Jem Lester (Seen Rain Man? That doesn’t mean you know my son, Family, 30 December). However, despite the common feelings around having our verbal and non-verbal autistic kids, I feel that actually 2017 provided plenty of great autism-inspired TV.
I gorged on Atypical on Netflix, was intrigued by Chris Packham’s Asperger’s and Me, consumed another series of The A Word and concurred with The Good Doctor.
Even better, autistic characters entered kids’ TV too. Our non-verbal son connected with the first CBeebies autistic animated character, Pablo. And hot on the heels of Sesame Street’s first autistic Muppet came the Power Rangers movie, in which the Blue Ranger was autistic.
But while I was keen to point out to our eldest son, Anthony, that this Ranger shared some of his difficulties, Anthony did the opposite. He said he was like the Blue Ranger because he was brave, strong, wanted to protect people and (most of all) was the best he could be by being himself, autism and all.
Yes, these programmes describe different (autistic) stereotypes, but most characters anywhere else do too. Each glimpse of autism that TV provides is one less explanation I have to give. So well done to them, and to Anthony too. He saw far more than autism in the Blue Ranger, and maybe that’s the whole point.