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'The Good Doctor' Features Coby Bird, Teen Actor on the Autism Spectrum

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Coby Bird has wanted to act since he was 6 years old. Now, at 15, he’s a guest star on “The Good Doctor,” ABC’s new hit show about a doctor on the autism spectrum. Like the show’s main character, Bird is also on the autism spectrum.

In the episode, titled “22 Steps,” Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) must confront prejudice while caring for a patient on the spectrum, played by Bird. Bird appears to be the first person with autism spectrum disorder cast on the show.

Already a fan of “The Good Doctor,” Bird auditioned for the show after learning about the opportunity through his agent. When he learned he landed the role, he told The Mighty he was speechless. “This has to be a trick or a dream or something,” Bird remembers thinking. “I can’t believe this is actually happening.”

Shortly after finding out he was cast, Bird flew to Canada to start filming. He said the set was very much like an actual hospital, and he enjoyed exploring the set when he wasn’t filming.

Bird’s favorite part was doing his own stunts for the show and getting to meet the whole cast.

Bird said he enjoys acting and can memorize his lines within a day. He also never forgets lines or notes from the director. Acting has also helped him build his verbal and communication skills and has made crowds, loud noises and social interactions less taxing.

Bird credits the progress he’s made with his social skills, and as an actor, in part to The Miracle Project — a program that introduces kids on the autism spectrum to the arts, and has worked with shows like “The Good Doctor” and “Atypical” on previous casting endeavors.

“It’s important for the industry to see that there’s nothing to be afraid of when you hire someone with a disability or autism,” Elaine Hall, founder of The Miracle Project told The Mighty. “The industry needs to look at this talent pool that does exist and take the risk and hire someone with autism.”

Bird’s episode of “The Good Doctor” premieres at 10 p.m. EST on Monday, November 13 on ABC.

Originally published: November 13, 2017
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