How The Good Doctor Plays a Good Portrayal of Autism

By Angelica Betancourt


Photo by Angelica Betancourt

Angelica Betancourt

The Good Doctor, a new ABC drama released on September 25, 2017, shows the life of an autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome named Sean Murphy who joins the surgical unit at a hospital to continue his career after medical school. Unable to personally connect or relate with people around him, many of the other professionals there are not welcoming as they think he could potentially kill a patient on the operating table if he has a breakdown which is unable to be controlled.  

Autism is a serious disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact and there are many different types of autism spectrum disorders with each diagnosis working differently than others.

According to CDC, one in sixty-eight are born with the disorder leaving about 3.5 million people affected by it. Therefore, it is a complicated task to demonstrate how autism works but most importantly how it affects autistic children and adults.

Although Sean may have a severe deficit, he has extraordinary medical skills that older surgeons have never seen before and his ability is what saves the patients lives that others cannot.

When first released, the show averaged more than 17.4 million viewers which was higher than This is Us. The success of this show was noted as a surprise because when the television promotions came out, many thought that it would not be able to demonstrate what autism truly is.

Another surprise was that many were shocked how this show was able to bring what programs relating to adults or children with a different religion or color, and show that it has the same correlation with autism, a neurological disorder but exactly like color and race it should not withhold their potential as the next generation of doctors, educators, or leaders.

Not only were the producers, writers, and actors terrified if their portrayal of the autism spectrum would be good enough for a harsh audience such as ours, but they also had to deal with not ruining the comprehension that each spectrum is different and special in its own way.

The Good Doctor is not all sunshine and rainbows, it shows an autistic surgeon having trouble with understanding emotions and why people are sarcastic which serves to be incredibly difficult for the main character because it is in his nature not to understand it.

Sophomore Jolie Newman said, “I think that the good doctor portrays autism in a very positive way. While I don’t know much about autism and I’m not sure about how accurately the show depicts it, I think that it’s very good that is shows that mental disabilities should not stand in the way of someone pursuing their dreams and that it doesn’t stop them from being successful with a well respected profession.”

The Good Doctor has aired its first ten episodes of the season and will be returning on January 8, 2018 on ABC to air the rest. To watch or catch up before then, go to the network’s website to watch.