Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Parenthood - The Day After.

If you live here in Oz you may have watched last night's episode of the Ron Howard hit show "Parenthood". If you have a child on the spectrum, especially one with Asperger Syndrome, you may have wanted to jump through the television screen and repeatedly thump the father of Max, the young boy portrayed on the show. The character is a child diagnosed with ASD - specifically, AS.

Max Burkholder as Max Braverman in Parenthood

"Some people have disabilities Max..."

"For you Asperger's is one of those tough things..."

By this point I was yelling at the television, believe me it wasn't pretty.

Then I stopped. For this WAS the reality so many live on this rollercoaster of emotion. This WAS an accurrate portrayal of a father in pain trying to connect and understand this new world early post diagnosis. This WAS truth in television.

Would I ever use those words to my child? Hell no, but we have been on this path from a younger age than this character. We have seen the gifts as well as the hardship, we have lived through the dark days and are now basking in the light.

It is painful and hard for a parent to let go of THEIR aspirations and dreams for their child, not realising that even without Asperger Syndrome those aspirations and dreams may never have been those of the child. And sometimes what we end up with far surpasses anything we could have ever aspired to.

I referred in a past post to a poem Boy 1 wrote when he was seven. We (he and I) have decided to share it again (just remember it is copyrightfully HIS people - if you wish to use it ASK)...

Rainbow Life
You may think I’m different
The way I think and play
But wouldn’t life be boring
If all was the same way
See I will change this world
A little bit by bit
And when my life is over
This will be my gift
I’ll leave the world a thinking
A mix of logic and my dreams
And there will be no limits
Nothing will seem extreme
Think of it like ice cream
Some are just vanilla
I’m a rainbow swirl
All colours a shimmer!

Copyright Boy 1 2006

Look beyond the diagnosis, look beyond the intervention, the therapies, the anxiety and obsession. Look at what you have, or we have, or your neighbour/cousin/schoolchild or joe blow in the street.
Rainbow swirl. Pretty damn special. By the end of the episode the father is slowly realising he is wrong in his approach, that his vanilla viewpoint may not be the only one. I hope the storyline continues down this path, even if it meanders a little off track.
Maybe I should drop Ronnie a line, just to make sure. I'm sure he'd appreciate a little insider knowledge from a 


Suz @ Segovia and The I Love You Song said...

Thank you for this post. My head has been swirling since i watched Parenthood last night. My boy on the spectrum is 4 and I suspect we will have an Aspergers diagnosis in the not too distant future. I keep trying to imagine myself having that conversation. But I guess I have a while to plan and prepare and read wise words like yours. The wise ones who have gone before who might hold my hand. I am so happy that Parenthood is portraying autism in its's affirming.
And as for your boy's poem.....beautiful and a complete gift to the world. I would love to keep a copy in my little inspiration that ok with your boy? Thank you again xx

Melissa said...

I haven't seen the ep yet, but have heard a bit of buzz about it, not much of it good from ASD Mums.

But I was having the same thought. For parents (and I think especially for Dads, and especially in those early days), it's not all strength and seeing the wonders that ASD can present. It's terrifying and confusing and grief.

So if that's how they're portraying him (again, i haven't watched it yet), then it's actually pretty damned accurate.

Jayne said...

I haven't been watching Parenthood, and it's a blessing as Aspie teen would get worked up at that kind of dialogue (even if it's a learning curve/changing kind of view) cos everything is black and white to him.
I think the tv is glued onto Nat Geo, Discovery, History et el LOL.

Madmother said...

Not a problem Suz, have sent you an e-mail.

I was glad Boy 1 was asleep, J. Though he now realises some people just get it wrong 'cause they are human.

Watch it M, it is heatbreaking but interesting.

Karls said...

You, and your son, are just incredible!

Suzi said...

This is one of those times I wish I had television, I might have to check out if Parenthood is downloadable. As you said the ups and downs, and we say things we shouldn't out of frustration, the words "can't you just pretend to be normal" have left my mouth before, not something I am proud of. The Rainbow poem is really good, thanks to both of you for sharing.

Madmother said...

Yep - it is available on the 7 website for 10 days.

Karls, he is the inspiring one - I truly believe God sent me someone to show me brand new horizons and ideas. He brings the rainbow right into the house on the darkest of days.

Tulipgirl said...

It's great to hear what some mums of kids with an ASD think of this show. I often wonder if it's an accurate or belittling (not the only options obviously; two extremes I guess) portrayal. It seems respectful to me but my only experience is as a friend of the mums of a couple boys with AS and from reading threads on EB and well living in the world I guess.

Haven't watched last night's episode yet.

Boy 1 sounds like a perceptive kid.

Leanne said...

Great post MM. You know my views. Labels disable kids, and referring to disabilities disables them further. It's their abilities we should be focusing on and nurturing. Your Boy 1 is an amazing kid. Through his writing he is going to change the lives of many MM ...

Jen said...

Have you seen the movie Temple Grandin yet? If not rent it. It has an amazing view of autism. Beautiful post by the way, loved that poem, almost brought me to tears. Here's my blog if you want to check it out -

Madmother said...

Jen, tried to comment on your blog at the Temple Grandin post and couldn't. Blogger conniptions again methinks...

Oh, this made me cry. I have to see if I can get hold of this movie here in Oz.

I often wondered in the dark days if I was pushing too hard, in denial, or just being unrealistic with my son. Now, at 13, I feel we got it right. He is beautiful, amazing, a bright light of good, purity and hope in dark days.

HeeWho said...

This is a nonissue in my house even though we have an Asperger's diagnosis. My son absolutely denies it's existence. Tricky one to deal with...

HeeWho said...

You will see my veiled references to it in my blogs at

Madmother said...

Will go have a look HeeWho. :-)

Glowless @ Where's My Glow said...

Pretty damn special indeed. And hopefully the copyright will be respected this time.

E. said...

Hey, it does remeber me here!

I didn't comment on this because I don't watch parenthood.

And I'm pretty sure you know I'm impressed with Boy 1.

MaidInAustralia said...

That's a wonderful poem, what a great kid you have.
I would never refer to Mr 10's AS as a 'disability'. It is a thing that he has that we are learning how to deal with. And like your boy, mine knows that the very things that make him different and/or difficult will be what makes him to be extremely successful and cool one day. In fact, it's already starting ... I'm so proud of him.
TV writers do have a responsibility to take ownership of what they write - I hate to think what Mr 10 would have thought if he'd seen that episode and absorbed the message. Although I don't let him watch it yet. But other kids/teens might.

Mum on the Run said...

Fantastic post - and poem.
The gifts I've had the pleasure of sharing in when working with children on the spectrum has blown my mind.