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My Thoughts on 'The Good Doctor' Hiring an Actor With Autism

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I was ecstatic when I heard that Coby Bird, a 15-year-old actor on the autism spectrum would be a guest star on “The Good Doctor” as a character who also has autism. As an autism consultant, I’ve written several articles about the importance of highlighting those with an autism diagnosis in a realistic light, and what better way of doing that than having a person with autism as part of the conversation.

First off, I was excited because this gave the show the opportunity to show another side of the spectrum. Like the quote “If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism,” it’s important to highlight that autism is not a one-size-fits-all disorder.

Secondly, it gave another actor with autism the opportunity to shine in our entertainment industry. A short time ago, Anthony Jacques, a young man on the autism spectrum played a character on the spectrum in Netflix’s “Atypical”. It’s important we show that some on the spectrum are capable of these types of performances.

As for the episode itself, Coby’s performance was outstanding. Sensory issues can often be a challenge for those on the spectrum and Coby nailed showing this in his character. During an interaction between Coby’s character and Dr. Shaun Murphy (played by Freddie Highmore) I thought about my own journey on the autism spectrum. Like me, Dr. Murphy grew up knowing no one else who was on the autism spectrum.

Overall, this was a step in the right direction for “The Good Doctor.” One area I’d love to see now is having a girl character on the spectrum, as autism is sometimes stereotyped as a “boy disorder.” I can only hope that
this is the start of a movement towards hiring more people on the spectrum to collaborate on projects such as these.

Kerry Magro is an international speaker on the autism spectrum. A version of this article originally appeared here.

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Originally published: November 15, 2017
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