Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Parenthood Review - Maybe I should do this weekly?

Hello again. It is time for me to once again address this week's episode of the Ron Howard acclaimed series: Parenthood. Well, the bit in it that addresses Asperger Syndrome and its accompanying issues any way.

Yes, again. Stop rolling your eyes, I am entitled to my opinion thank you.

Credit: NBC
Last night's episode here in Australia contained an epic emotional meltdown in the emergency department of a hospital. To summarise briefly, Max (the child with AS) and all of his extended family (parents, sibling, grandparnets, aunts, uncles, cousins and various partners along for the ride) were assembled waiting for news of his cousin, Amber, who had been in a serious car accident and was undergoing surgery.

Withing three minutes of the beginning of this episode Max and Adam have a confrontation as Max appears to show absolutely no empathy for any needs other than his own.
"I wanna eat"
"Right, let's see what they have here."
"No Dad, you said that we could go to get pancakes
"and now I've been here for an hour and a half
" and I wanna go."
"look at this, this looks good,"
"No I don't want a danish
"Max, take it easy. This is one of those times where we have to be patient, okay. We're here for Amber and Drew..."
"No. You said that Amber was not going to die..."

You can see where this is going, right? It escalates into Max shouting, "I'm hungry! No Dad, I don't care about Amber right now. I'm hungry and I wanna eat now!"

Of course his Grandfather then yells at him, which takes it even higher... Max tells him to shut up, lashes out at his mother physically... and so on and so on.

Of course we all compare this child to our own, especially those diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

But, everyone needs to keep in mind IT IS A SPECTRUM! I watched this episode and listened to Adam talking to his son about empathy, what it is, how to act, and I can tell you I am with Tony Attwood on this one...

At a conference I attended many moons back, Attwood stated: "It is a misconception that these children do not feel empathy. They feel empathy, but have difficulty expressing it.

We have an emergency hospital room story of our own. My mother. Another fracture in her spine. Along with bleeding from her bladder. A large hospital in the capital city of our state. We arrived at 6pm, and were still waiting for her to be admitted at 10pm. My oldest was around the age Max portrays, maybe a little older. I asked Big Boy to take them home, and I'd book in somewhere for the night. It was an hour's drive to return to our mountain.

Both my children refused, point blank. Both stated unequivocally that they were staying to make sure their Nanna was looked after and settled and then we would all go home together.

BOTH. You could not have picked the child on the spectrum that night. Amidst, noise and chaos, blood and screaming, flickering fluro lights and stressed families they were calm, determined, supportive. Of me, of my mother, of each other.

And so that scene and THAT meltdown was one I found totally foreign. And yet I know others related, and I know it is yet again a case of informing, educating and for the drama, worst case scenario.
Boy 1 & 2 May 2011: Credit Madmother
So what did I get out of the show last night? Gratitude. Thank you God for giving me this amazing child, for both my incredible sons. Thank you for his heart, and strength and compassion and EMPATHY. And thank you for this incredible journey and experience. It sure as shit ain't boring!

Done for this week, and as it was the season finale who knows when the next will be.

Oh, and that night at the hospital? We arrived back to our beds at 2.30am.


cjtato said...

You do have sweet boys! And I guess the show has take a "majority rules" kind of perspective? I have absolutely no idea but was thinking maybe in researching Max's role they found that a lot of kids on the spectrum would have acted this way.

As you said, it's hard not to compare. Whether it's a mother with PND or child with Aspergers, we all look at it and decide whether we agree with their portrayal of it or not.

And I love that you talk about this because I honestly have not a clue so I get to learn more. :D

Susan said...

I haven't watched the TV show, but can understand your frustration. I have a friend with two Asperger's sons. Two years ago she had pneumonia and needed to be taken to hospital. Both of her sons reacted in different ways, neither causing any particularly problems but also not focusing on her and her difficulties at the time. They love their mother and were bothered that she was ill, but they didn't show it in the expected way.

I'm currently looking into the possibility that my husband might have Aspergers. My first hurdle is convincing him that there is a spectrum. he has already pointed out similar Aspergers/austism stereotypes and used them as proof that he couldn't possibly be affected.

Thea said...

Yep, like you said it's a spectrum and so ASD kids can be so different. I saw that episode too, as you know, and I could totally see my boy in Max. I don't think my boy has any idea about empathy, it's just not in him, and that makes me sad.
He is wonderful in so many other ways though. And I thank God for both of my amazing children, too.

Great post. x