Healthy Living

Autism: TV Makes Strides in New Programming

Lack of involvement with the autism community

While Robia Rashid’s goal to create a different kind of coming of age story that more people could relate to is noble, and while she was certainly working to make the show the best she could, “Atypical” isn’t without its problems. Rashid did consult with different people with autism and their caregivers to develop the show, and one of the minor characters is actually autistic, but overall, there isn’t a lot of involvement in the project from members of the autistic community. Because the show is still being written and acted by neurotypical individuals, the creators don’t always get the content quite right. For example, at a point in the show, Sam is trying to make an appropriate facial expression at a girl. Sam has difficulty with social interactions and this disconnect is a huge source of anxiety for him. He doesn’t pull it off well, and the girl is startled by his expression. While this could be a moment of sympathy, it’s played off as more of a moment of comedy. This comedic turn ends up feeling more like making fun of Sam than relating to him. Although “Atypical” may be a step in the right direction, some may think it’s not perfect just yet.