"If we think about autism as having both strengths and weaknesses we see that maybe autistic people can bring some unique things to any profession including medicine." Neuropsychologist Dr. Mira Krishnan is the director of Hope Network's Center for Autism.
She gives her opinion on just how realistic the show and the character of Dr. Shaun Murphy really are, "I've heard some feedback that his character is a little exaggerated. I think probably if you met someone on the autism spectrum who was working in that capacity the autism would not be as evident as it is."
Dr. Krishnan says another exaggeration of the show is the way Dr. Murphy is bullied by his colleagues, “People don't say openly that they don't like them or that they don't want to work with them. But these things happen behind the scenes."
Beyond that Dr. Krishan says there are quite a few things the show gets right. Especially when it comes to those with high functioning autism like the character Shaun Murphy, "You see doctor Murphy doing that where he catches things that other doctors miss."
Dr. Krishnan adds that’s where many autistic people are stronger, "Skills that we call systemizing skills that have to do with understanding patterns, recognizing structures and organizing principals and a lot of the problem solving that's involved in a skill like being a surgeon. They can spot tiny imperfections that other people would miss. And that's something that the show gets right also."
Both Dr. Krishnan and Joe Woodruff with Hope Network’s Center for Autism are excited about is the show’s character of Dr. Aaron Glassman who advocates for Shaun Murphy, "In order to get to a world where autistic people succeed we need these powerful voices from outside the autism community who are advocating." says Dr. Krishnan.
Woodruff highlights those in who are doing similar work in Michigan, like Lt. Governor Brian Calley, who has an autistic daughter and David Meador, the CFO of DTE Energy, who has an autistic son. Together they helped advocate for insurance coverage in Michigan for autism therapy.
"It took those people in those leadership positions to make that happen." Woodruff adds there are also many companies in Grand Rapids making an effort to include those with autism in their workforce. Companies like Meijer, Gordon Foods and Ability Weavers, "They have a lot to offer and a lot of skills and a lot of things they can do."
Perhaps The Good Doctor is doing more than just winning ratings, "I hope that this is something that the show leaves for the community that gets people out there hiring autistic people and it gets autistic people believing that they can do great things in the community." says Dr. Krishnan.
Because being different doesn't mean you don't have a chance, sometimes it means you have a chance at being great.
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