Nordahl-Hansen (2017): Atypical: a typical portrayal of autism?
I: The Lancet Psychiatry, Online first
In conjunction with the rise in prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there has been a boom in TV and movie characters who sit somewhere along—or in close proximity to—the autism spectrum. These media portrayals may have negative consequences, such as the reinforcement of stereotypes and stigma; however, they might also contribute to raising awareness about, and public understanding of, the condition. Launched on Netflix in August, 2017, the new comedy-drama TV series Atypical places Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist) centre stage, an 18-year-old high-school student with ASD. At present, eight episodes have been released and, as is the case for many portrayals of ASD on screen, the accuracy of the presentation is the subject of intense debate. Large numbers of people with autism have been critical of the show and of the choice to cast a non-autistic actor—but is the resulting portrayal inaccurate?