The Netflix series “Atypical” shares the story of a high school boy with autism facing the challenges of romance and achieving independence.
The show originated last year and the second season recently aired. The first season was criticized for not using an actor with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to play the main character, Sam. The show has responded with new episodes that include eight actors and a writing consultant who all have ASD.
Through improv, teens with autism tap into their inner comedian while building social-communication skills.
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According to an article in The New York Times, the second season makes several changes to offer a more accurate representation of people with ASD. Writer Sara Luterman, who has ASD, talks about how some of these changes break stereotypes, but says the show needs to pay attention to the nuanced behaviors of people on the spectrum. Luterman credits the show’s creator, Robia Rashid, with bringing in more voices from the autism community.
In addition to using actors with ASD—portraying members of Sam’s peer group—Rashid also invited best-selling author David Finch to consult for the show. Finch, who has ASD, told Luterman he acted as an “expert in the personal experience of autism.”
Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for the ASHA Leader. firstname.lastname@example.org.