NOTE: This is about the TV Series “The Good Doctor.”
Now, I’ve heard a lot of criticism about Shaun Murphy’s flat voice. It normally does not affect me personally, but I know it seems like a stereotype. So many things can seem like a stereotype, but if a person matches one or two particular stereotypes, it could be terrible, but it can be mitigated by the presence of somebody who does not fit the stereotypes. As “The Good Doctor” makers are just getting the show off the ground, they have not learned that yet.
I decided to formulate theories as to why Dr. Murphy’s voice is flat. Here are a few theories:
- It is due to the lack of training in Shaun Murphy’s past. I have yet to see a vocal training session or learning as to the man’s voice in the show, so this theory may be disproven in time. But have autistic people been given speech therapy to address that, at least?
- Trauma has affected Shaun Murphy, so he regressed in vocal progress. The storyline shows major traumatic episodes in Dr. Murphy’s past, and more could be coming. People facing trauma often regress in behavior. I have often done this myself, when aware and when not, for comfort.
- Shaun has not quite learned or gotten how to speak neurotypically yet. Now this seems to be the most plausible. Has Shaun been given classes or therapy on how to speak normally? Better yet, can he possibly learn to speak neurotypically in the future? A little background on this theory: I myself have been told I did not learn how to speak like neurotypical people until I was about thirty. I learned in eventually speaking in a group therapy setting, mimicking my peers. My mother had to point it out to me, by the way. According to her, “A light went on.” Often, that’s what happens with me. I’m not saying Dr. Murphy is exactly like me, I’m just saying the vocal change could play out like that.
It is of huge consequence how autistic people are portrayed in the media. Raymond “Rain Man” Babbit has dominated the conversation for decades, especially since people continue to put their fingers in their ears and try to block out what autistic people are saying. Yeah, neurodiversity relations are that bad, but I’m not surprised by that.
You know, it’s hard to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. What’s even harder is when the person who cooks Thanksgiving dinner decides to turn immediately around and try to put up Christmas the very next day. As I write, I have not finished my own decorating. The outside decorations and the tree are not up yet, but the rest of it is – and I mostly did the work on Saturday. Why? Because I needed to rest. No, I did not start decorating until it was almost evening on Friday, because I had to rest from Thanksgiving. To give you an idea of what I did, I counted the dishes this year, and I had fifteen. That’s right, the turkey came with a platoon. It’s the only way my mother and I know how to cook Thanksgiving. That’s even with cutting back a few dishes. So, with all the cutting, dicing, basting, baking, roasting, stirring, nursing, putting together, and making sure it came out at the same time, no wonder I was tired. Besides, my body had to focus on digesting the platoon as well. Is it any wonder I was so tired the next day? And some people want to go out and shop in the melee known as Black Friday in that condition? Well, let’s see what the average autistic is up against.
Just do a web search for Black Friday and you’ll see crowding, desperation, fights, loud music, those cinnamon broomsticks and pine cones that burn your nose, flashing lights, a daunting selection of should I buy this, violence – and you want to put an autistic person in the middle of that?
Believe me, the Hulk is not outside the realm of possibility when it comes to meltdowns.
Cyber Monday is much better for autistic people. Rest and relaxation is better for autistic people. Sometimes I just don’t know my own limits.
100 Followers? Thank you, guys! I couldn’t have done it without you.
Now, all in all, it was a good day. Unfortunately, it was only my mother and me around the table, but we had all our favorite things for Thanksgiving. It is usually a large spread, and this year is no different.
We had a few setbacks, of course. My mother had the bright idea to put the bird in the oven at six a.m., and though the turkey turned out perfect, it was a bit cold when we ate. (Not too cold, though.) I got a very minor cut on my wrist from a can of water chestnuts, which we put in our dressing, but all in all there was no major setback. We had stupid fluffy rolls, which we like, perfect stuffing, great foods, and a good Thanksgiving altogether. I cooked, we ate, and then we napped. I got a designation of being a great cook. So, it was a great Thanksgiving. How did your Thanksgiving go?
Here comes Thanksgiving. Strangely enough, it’s going to be an easier time than in years past. Funny thing, I actually do the cooking. That alone puts me on a stress level that may be higher than many autistic people – and I said maybe, mind you. The thing is, a person who has done the main Thanksgiving cooking for, say, eight times in their life might be able to recall how it is done. It’s not that bad, considering we’re having a quiet Thanksgiving Day. However, I’ve been through bustling, huge Thanksgiving Days, too. I’ve got a few last-minute tips to give for the day.
- Setup, setup, setup. This kind of runs into the next tip, but involving some sort of planning and maybe practice is necessary. I am currently sitting next to an empty dish arrangement I made for the dinner setup. I’m in charge of Thanksgiving, but setup and practice may be necessary.
- Have the person get involved, when appropriate. I may have been delayed in some things when it came to social interaction and executive function, but I was fine in other things, like getting the finger veggies out (we always have pickles and olives at our table). Can they handle setting a table for the occasion? Go ahead and let them help out. Someday, you may have someone who can take over more major duties, or even the whole thing altogether. Give it time and patience.
- Have an Chill Out Space. This is not a traditional Safe Space, as marginalized groups prescribe. A Chill Out Space is actually a space away from the festivities the person can escape to, when, say, things get too loud, or, someone decides to discuss politics. It can be as simple as the child’s room. It is simply a place where the person can rest their senses and their interactions.
- The Girl Scouts Are Right. I learned early on that it was customary to give hugs to greet people in my family. I adjusted sooner than many like me. However, I don’t recommend a suffocating hug for someone who is, say, a little more delicate in the touch arena. Don’t push it if the person is not up for it.
- Have a Quiet Moment Immediately Before the Meal. In praying families, this seems to be built into the meal through prayer. A quiet moment helps center not just the autistic person, but most everybody.
- You Know Your Autistic Person….If You Listen and Accept Them. You know how much your child can take of Thanksgiving. If they need to eat in their Chill Out Space, go ahead and let them. It does not matter what your fickle relatives say; have they actually gotten to know the person?
Helping out an autistic person during Thanksgiving requires actually getting to know them, beyond perceived stereotypes, beyond disappointments, and all the way in acceptance. Unfortunately, many autistic persons’ caretakers are often unwilling to get there. This may or may not be the case with you, but acceptance of current reality is required for all these tips to actually work.
I live in the US, where the predominant feeling surrounding the autism spectrum is fear. Parents decline to vaccinate their children because because they’re afraid they’ll wind up autistic. Parents, I hear you, on a certain level. Some children really do react badly to vaccines. I’ve heard too many stories, even from people I know–reasonable […]
via Autism is nothing to fear. Are you scared of me? — the silent wave
Now, I’ve had time to process the fact that “The Good Doctor” has taken a step forward: in the hiring of an actually autistic actor. To be blunt, he played the patient of the day. It’s really good, guys. I am happy you’ve hired somebody who has true insight into autism. The reason is this: a lot of people outside the autism spectrum get major tenets of autism wrong. For example, we’re still fighting the “No Empathy” stereotype even today and probably tomorrow. But I digress. Bravo, Good Doctor.
What I am now waiting for is a series recurring or regular autistic actor, a la “Speechless.” Speechless has the Good Doctor beat in the series regular Micah Fowler, who of course plays J.J. DiMeo. Sure, he has trouble delivering his lines, but the character has built-in supports and more than enough nonverbal expression to carry himself around the obstacles the actor and character face. It is sensitive, funny and even has a filled-out set of characters for the siblings, parents and aides. The reason I wax about “Speechless” in a post about The Good Doctor? I know The Good Doctor can make the same jump in some way or another. Perhaps in a consultant or recurring patient? It is quite doable.