The new Netflix series, Atypical, focuses on the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner [played Keir Gilchrist], who is on the autism spectrum. The series was created and written by Robia Rashid, who consulted with Michelle Dean, a California State University professor who worked at UCLA’s Center for Autism Research and Treatment. While characters on the autistic spectrum have occasionally appeared on television – such as Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory – none have been the main character, nor have they shown the impact of autism on a family unit.
Five things Atypical sheds a light on, as detailed by Autism Spectrum Australia, are:
1. Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.
2. The word ‘spectrum’ describes the range of difficulties that people on the autism spectrum may experience and the degree to which they may be affected. Some people may be able to live relatively normal lives [known as high functioning], while others may have an accompanying learning challenges and require continued specialist support.
3. The main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.
4. An estimated one in 100 people has autism
5. People on the autism spectrum may also have sensory sensitivities including avoiding everyday sounds and textures.