Based off an award-winning South Korean medical drama of the same name, The Good Doctor which is available on FOX+, focuses on the life of Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young savant autistic surgical resident from Casper, Wyoming. After a difficult childhood, he moves to San Jose, California where he works at the prestigious San Jose Sr. Bonaventure Hospital.
Actor Daniel Dae Kim first took interest in the original South Korean series and bought the rights for his production company. He had initially sold the rights to CBS but bought it back after the network decided against creating a pilot. Kim then eventually worked with Sony Pictures Television to adapt the series, bringing onboard House M.D creator, David Shore.
Debuting in 2017, The Good Doctor has been praised for Highmore’s powerful performance, thought-provoking plots, and sentimental moments. Due to the well-written scripts and the fact that the show has an autism consultant on board, The Good Doctor has also been lauded for its authentic portrayal and of autism and the insight it provides viewers on the condition.
Here are some lessons about autism that the show taught us and misconceptions it addresses.
1. People with autism cannot change their behavior
A lot of people believe that people with autism are just “wired” to behave a certain way and they should just leave them alone and not try to teach them or even expect them to adjust. They mostly feel this is true about social cues and human interaction. However, in the show, Shaun exhibits effort to try to adapt and understand the areas of engaging with others that he might not have understood at the beginning. He changes along with information he has acquired, like how to understand jokes and subtext.
2. People with autism are unfeeling
Because they can sometimes not read social cues properly or say what they think without filter, people can misconstrue people with autism as cold and without feelings. However, The Good Doctor has shown several times that while they may seem unphased by events sometimes, people with autism can have their feelings deeply hurt and that others should always still be kind and gentle towards them. Shaun also exhibits empathy, a trait that a lot think is non-existent in people on the spectrum.
3. People with autism do not have romantic desires
Related to the former point, many have the misconception that people with autism don’t have sexual feelings or are capable of being attracted to other people. The Good Doctor debunks this right in the first episode, showing that Shaun is even aware of his own attractions and romantic desires. The show really helps portray how the life of an autistic person that maybe otherwise, viewers wouldn’t have a chance to witness or understand.
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