I’ve been meaning to write a blog post update on this season of “Parenthood.” Now we’re 9 or 10 episodes in, so it’s long overdue. This is building on my post last winter not only focusing on Parenthood, but the broader question of Autism and the Media.

It’s been a really interesting season for the Autism Spectrum theme to shine through. For those who don’t follow the show, one of the many characters is Max Braverman, a 12 year old boy who has Asperger Syndrome. The season started out with Max’s older sister heading off to college at Cornell University (also apparently known as the “suicide school” because of the cold weather – as Max casually pointed out to his sister). It was a really interesting dynamic following recent a blog topic and Autism 200 series lecture about the sibling’s perspective. In Parenthood, Max’s sister tried to find ways to connect with him and convey how much she would miss him, but Max just doesn’t understand that the way that she feels it. She even buys him a weighted blanket as a going away present, but the meaning of such a gift is lost on Max. 

Since that first episode of the season, there have been some emotionally heavy storylines. I won’t go into details and spoil it for anyone, but I feel that the writers always do an incredible job weaving in some of those “real life” responses that a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder might have… and the chaos that can ensue. The episode two weeks ago really brought it all together. Max is having a sleep over, so he’s tuned into the video games while his dog starts peeing on the carpet. He then argues with his dad about the point in “getting the dog” when the dog has already peed on the carpet. Simultaneously, the baby is crying in her highchair and Max’s mom vomits on the floor. As you might imagine (or perhaps as some of you may recall from your own similar chaos experiences), it’s just too much to handle for mom and dad.

And later, as Max find’s his mom hunched over the toilet, he points out how “gross” it is. It’s really just a hard pill to swallow that point for his mom, but an entirely believable response from Max – makes me think about Autism in the context of serious family issues.

I’m still waiting for the next chapter in the Max-at-school storyline. He actually was elected to be his Class President at school midway through the season and talked about his strengths BECAUSE of his Asperger’s diagnosis in his candidate speech. It was actually quite powerful, so I’m hoping there are more positives to come from that.

Have you been watching Parenthood this season? There must be some regular watchers out there. What has hit home or been impactful for you? I’d love to read your comments about Parenthood or other “Autism and the Media” topics!

Also, stay tuned for a future blog that has some real-life tips for sharing hard-news with your child with autism.