Monday, February 28, 2011

Asperger's on TV

Both the boys are into dinosaurs, so we watch dino-everything-we-can-find (along with getting every dinosaur book from the library). We were watching Dino Squad on Netflix a few days ago when I saw an episode I had somehow previously missed. The first episode of the second (and last) season is "The World According to Liam". The Dino Squad is a group of five teens who can morph into dinosaurs. Along with their also-mutant teacher and dog, the Dino Squad are fighting to keep mutant dinosaur/animals from taking over the world. Yeah, I know. It's not Oscar material, but it's not as bad as it sounds and it has dinosaurs.

In this episode, Liam is a teen with Asperger's who attends the same high school as the dino-teens. After the jocks make fun of Liam for his "weird" behavior, Liam explains to one of the Squad (even after all these episodes, I don't know the names well enough to tell them apart) that he has Asperger's Syndrome and that "my mom says that means I process things differently than other people." Dino-teen asks Dino-teacher later and she explains a little about Asperger's to him. Liam ends up helping the Squad take down the mutant dino-bees and after the fight, the other teens ask Liam if he'll keep their secret. Can't have everyone knowing they can "go dino", you know. He replies, "If I tell people that I saw kids turn into dinosaurs then back into kids, everyone would think I'm weird." Ironic and cute. Of course, the last scene shows the dino-teens ignoring the "popular" kids to sit with Liam in the school cafeteria.

I can't find the whole episode online, but if you have Netflix, you can watch it. They also have an episode on the Dino Squad website, and the site claims to change the clip weekly, so you may be able to catch it on there sometime. Here's a small clip of the show.

I think the writers handled it well. If you can watch the whole episode, let me know what you think. Do you think it's a good idea to introduce kids to Asperger's via a Saturday morning cartoon? Have you seen other shows that have addressed AS?

P.S. After I wrote this post, but before I published it, a friend told me that the show Parenthood has an ongoing storyline about Asperger's. Parenthood is shown on NBC at 10/9c on Tuesday nights. You can watch episodes on the NBC site or if you have Comcast cable, you can watch past episodes On Demand (for free).

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