Thursday, 31 October 2013

On Brick Heck & Characteristics of the Autism Spectrum

One of my favorite shows on television right now is a little gem on ABC called The Middle.

It's a simple family comedy that genuinely makes me laugh.

Characters include the frazzled mom, the out-of-it dad, the over-it son, the over-enthusiastic daughter, and the younger son.

The youngest son is the favorite character of a lot of people I know who watch the show.  He is a quirky boy-turned-preteen who loves to read, has a lot of special interests, dislikes socialization, and repeats words to himself.  He is also loveable and quite adorable.  This is how the writers created this character of "Brick."

The show never references whether Brick has any diagnosis, but he definitely shows traits of stereotypical Asperger's Syndrome (or at the very least, he sure acts a lot like I do, or so people tell me).  On the show, Brick's parents make some comments about how he's different and he attends a social skills program for the first few years of the show, but other than that, Brick is just Brick.  Brick's behavior might be odd and definitely deviates from the behavior of the other children on the show, but nobody ever questions him.  We all just accept that Brick is Brick.

We see this on a lot of TV shows nowadays -- Autistic traits as part of a character who is never officially diagnosed on the spectrum.  Is this a trend?  Is autism the new popular thing?

And if so, why are real autistic individuals still so disadvantaged in the community?