March 10, 2010

Parenthood (The TV Show)

I've been watching "Parenthood." It's hard to resist because among its very many storylines, it features two parents managing their son's diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome. Alan Sepinwall, my favorite TV critic ever (seriously - I've been following him for about a decade now), wrote a read-worthy article about Asperger's and TV if you want to know more.

The thing that gets me? These parents, they went from identification in the pilot to full-on diagnosis in episode two.

That process took us eight years. Eight. Years.

My son was identified by an astute preschool teacher when he was three. He was evaluated at four (diagnosis: bad parenting), and again in first grade (diagnosis: ADHD and "on the spectrum"). And then, because apparently "on the spectrum" isn't good enough for our current state of residence, it was a year of realizing they had to have a label to give him the support he needed, two years on a waiting list, nine months waiting for a report, and another three months waiting for the school to say, "Oh, wait. Asperger's? Really?"

I'm trying to suspend disbelief. I mean, it's TV. But, seriously? One episode?

That said, the quirky kid in a pirate costume who trades bites of food for TV time and can reel off arcane facts about Billboard's greatest hits is eerily familiar. For my kid it's hockey stats and superheroes. He was never a pirate, but for a full year he insisted the world call him Peabo. And he'll eat anything - seriously, anything - on the promise of a music video on YouTube. Today, in fact, he ate a giant serving of broccoli just so he could watch the last 10 minutes of a "He-Man" episode after dinner.

So, yeah. I get it.

They get it too. Because in two episodes, they've also found a way to show the sheer joy, the brilliance and the wonder of parenting a kid with Asperger's. It's wrapped up in frustration and doubt and a bit of railing at the world. But it's all in there. Just as it would be with any other child.

I think I'll keep watching.


  1. Great post! I have been watching also and I was curious to know what you thought of it. Seems to me that they're handling the issue well, but it's nice to hear perspective from someone who knows what it's like.

    Maybe if your washed up loser brother had a girlfriend/fiance with a mom who slept with a top shrink, you'd speed through diagnosis in a week too =P

  2. Hey, now! My brother reads this blog. ;-)

    So far, so good on the Asperger's. I loved last week's episode, where they showed a bit of the impact a kid who's a bit different can have on a sibling. Nice reminder.