A Review of the reviews of The Good Doctor on ABC by an autistic (savant)

Subtitle: and my personal review of the show as well

Let’s be succinct: Storyline=(doctor(young), autistic, savant syndrome), Challenges=(getting hired, being accepted, value appreciated), Results=(saving lives, period).

If you saw the premiere on ABC the other night, then you already know the storyline and don’t need a brief KetchUp.

I found out about this show via my Google Alerts. I have one set up for the term ‘Savant Syndrome’ and I received a ton of links to click in order to read about this new show in advance.

My only predicament to watch the show initially was living south of the border without US network TV. However, I overcame that obstacle pretty easily with the help of a VPN service and ABC’s free view of Episode 1.

My first thoughts, “They did a pretty good job showing autism and showing savant syndrome without reading definitions from a textbook.” And they also did a good job showcasing the ‘human condition’ which is very important in storytelling.

First a review of the reviews. I’ve read several so far and the writers are all over the place with their angles and opinions.

One writer wanted to show off some technical knowledge and gave us a list of the ‘Myths’ regarding autism and savant syndrome. [INSERT YAWN HERE]

Another writer caused me to cringe when they inserted “…suffering from autism…”! [INSERT WTF WERE YOU THINKING] [Answer: NOT]

To expand on that one, most autistics don’t feel like they are “suffering”, we just feel that we are different, period.

Since I’m very critical of both script writing and acting, I was very impressed with both in the first episode. However another writer was not, and criticized the “flatness” of the dialogue. I assume they were referring to both the lines and interpretation by the actor Highmore.

If so, guess what? That is a very typical way that many of us autistics interact both verbally and in body language, FLAT, period…GET OVER IT!

And finally the most important review that I read stated that the ratings for this show were the highest for ABC with any new series premiere in over eight years!

Thank God, because maybe they won’t cancel it before there’s an ending. That’s one aspect of US TV that I deplore. If the ratings aren’t there along with the advertising bucks, shove it out the window and bring in repeats of something else.

Those were the reviews by others, now a review by an autistic with Savant Syndrome [ME].

First, they NAILED IT and so did Highmore with his acting ability. Anyone that is familiar with autism or that is autistic themselves knows that we are all different, and there is no “one way” that we behave nor communicate.

Therefore both the writers and Highmore took the middle approach by showing just enough unusual physical movements and communication style along with the deadpan facial expressions of the character. It was very believable to me and I could relate as an autistic.

Second, without giving the viewer boring technical details related to Savant Syndrome, they showed them through the actions taken by the character in a medical emergency, and supported those actions with clever holograms that implied his thought processes.

The technique of using holograms that the producers used got some really cheesy criticism in more than one review.

Guess what? That’s sort of how it works for us folks with Savant Syndrome [SURPRISE]!

Often we are visual thinkers and use instantaneous visual recall to solve problems, very similar to how a computer works or your ‘smart phone’.

Therefore I give this prop a ‘thumbs up’, it worked for me, I understood the intent, and it weaved well with the actions taking place without being distracting.

Finally the infamous use of flashbacks on the screen in storytelling, either it works or it’s confusing. Again, there was just enough to give the viewer the true sense of pain that the character endured as an autistic child, along with the main crux of the story, his reason for becoming a doctor.

I’m hooked and I hope the writers are able to develop this story with authentic details as well as keeping us interested so that we want to see the next episode.

Time will tell…

“Wizard, why are some autistics geniuses and others barely able to learn to tie their shoes?”

Subtitle: “Dorothy, God only knows! But all autistics are special human beings, each have their own stories, and each are capable of fulfilling whatever capacity they have to be equal partners and contributors to society.” – said the Wizard of Oz

[Trigger Warning: You might find this post too long and quite boring, however I do recommend reading the attached article. It’s interesting…]

When I read the story attached below, it reminded me of my first 4 ½ years in elementary school.

After first grade and the first two months of that episode of nearly being expelled again as in kindergarten, the teacher in second grade realized that I might be one of those special kids with a brain. 🙂

Consequently, for the next three years while attending my first elementary school, I was put in a special class of students that showed unusual aptitude. And this occurred in a very basic Catholic school where the concentration was on Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic also referred to as the three ‘R’s.

After the first trimester of fifth grade we moved and I had to change schools, another Catholic parochial school. I was an unknown entity at the new school albeit with my favorite teacher of all time, Mrs. Zinnert, one of the few non-nun’s teaching there.

As an unknown entity who came off rather “weird” due to my language disorder and behavior, the kids immediately focused on that and I quickly became the principal kid to “bully” incessantly.

Life was hell for the next three and half years and I did everything possible to avoid going to school, pretending to be sick was my favorite excuse and my mother gladly accommodated me with phone calls to the school that I wouldn’t be there today and provided me with a written note to take when I eventually had the courage to return.

There’s a significant storyline set of episodes that occurred during that three and a half years of hell, but as it relates to this article grade 7 and grade 8 are pertinent.

This was the late 60’s in Los Angeles and back then it was customary to dish out IQ tests and aptitude tests to students. I hated taking any kind of test due to the anxiety that it caused me, and consequently I would rush through any test that didn’t appear to be a fun game to play.

In the first trimester of seventh grade at the “school from hell” we were given two IQ tests along with a couple of other rather well known aptitude tests that complement those. The infamous IQ tests were the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the original brain teaser, the Standford-Binet IQ test, the granddaddy of them all! 🙂

Fortunately these tests were sort of surprises and I didn’t have to remotely worry about studying for them; for the record I rarely studied for any test due to my distaste of them.

Around a month after taking the first one, the Weschler IQ test, we were individually called into the classroom of our home room, and privately shared our test results formerly. At the time my home room teacher was Sister Cristina Marie and she hated me, or at least I thought that she did. I did terrible in most subjects except for math and English, and I assume that she thought I was either just lazy or a problem child. The latter gives me a chuckle because she had no idea that I was autistic. 🙂

There I sat behind that big wooden desk of hers glancing up at her wearing that typical nun’s habit and her frameless glasses showcasing her piercing eyes with a tad bit of fear in my throat. Since I’m autistic, she didn’t like the fact that I would rarely look her in the eyes and she was constantly scolding me about that. 🙂

As I was glancing at her, she was peering down at my test results with the usual scowl on her face so I had no idea what to expect! I assumed that I probably [insert here] again and she was about to ridicule me for my lousy test results.

That didn’t happen but something worse did!

Apparently I scored in the top 99% of all US kids, and my test results we’re “off the charts”! I put that last bit in quotes because those were her exact words and the reason she said that was because I scored higher than their test algorithm could calculate! 🙂

For the next few minutes Sister Cristina Marie was screaming at me about those results, and now as an adult I suspect that she was just so aggravated with me that I had this potential but was such a lousy student! 🙂

Back to the worst part! Unfortunately one of my classmates was standing by the slightly open door, heard everything, and knew what those tests were about; I didn’t!

Consequently, when I was eventually permitted to leave the chaos of her ranting and return to recess in the schoolyard, my test results were common knowledge to all the kids.

That’s when one of the worst days in my life occurred.

As I entered the schoolyard, almost of all of my classmates were grouped together and immediately started yelling “David’s a freak, David’s a freak, etc., etc., etc.” It must have lasted for at least five minutes but it feels like a lifetime.

For the record, over the remaining two years when we were given those tests, my results were always around the same, “off the charts!” And maybe the worst part is that those teachers never shared that information with my mother nor explained to me the significance of those tests.

If I had understood that I might have had some potential God given brain power as a child and an adolescent, I might have made some different choices going forward.

However, I have no regrets because I am extremely grateful to God, to nature, and to fate to end up exactly where I am at the age of 64. And fortunately, I did make the most of that brain power while not realizing what that was until later in life.

This is a snapshot into the life of an autistic savant who happens to be one of the rarer ones with a way above intelligence (IQ score) verses what most people assume, an autistic savant is somebody with unusual capabilities but a way below intelligence level and needs constant care or supervision.

Guess what? There are a lot more of us than what are known or written about in the world, and there is a database kept by the ultimate guru on this subject that maintains those records.

I hope you enjoy the attached article.

Article: How to raise a genius, according to a 45-year study on extraordinary kids