As someone whose seen multiple pieces of media regarding autistic and ASD characters, I wasn’t expecting much accuracy from Atypical. However as I began to view the Netflix show with my boyfriend, I found that it was very easy for me to relate to the main character, a teen on the spectrum named Sam. I grew up with Aspergers myself, and though I don’t exhibit as many of the behavioral quirks I did as a child I still recognized a few shown in Atypical as mannerisms that I still possess. It was a shock to observe this in the mainstream media, who are usually content to depict autistic characters as ingenious mathematicians with little to no personality other than their talents.
I think two of the biggest traits that I feel I can relate to in Sam are his special interests and stimulation overloads. Scenes in which Sam grows enthusiastic about Antarctica remind me so much about my own passion for rats, and the way he reacts to the discomfort of the seat cushions on the bus are similar to the way I avoid jeans with buttons on their back pockets. The way in which he has trouble understanding social concepts is also a trait that I can recognize from my days in grade school.
Of course, there are some things that I do not connect with in Sam as well, like the difficulties he must deal with in the beginning of the series, such as picking out his own clothing or having to rely on his sister for guardianship. While these may not fit my experience with autism, I am sure that they can be found relatable by others on the spectrum. The show does a good job of presenting more than one person’s experience, and I feel like the creators must have really done their research.
To others out there on the autism spectrum, how do you feel about this new Netflix Original? Do you find yourself connecting with it like I have, or would you say that it’s missing something for you?