Atypical is a new Netflix series which has a charming lead character who is on the autistic spectrum. This family ‘dramedy’ is an engrossing one, which will teach viewers about some of the day-to-day realities for a teenager who has this mental syndrome. We put together the top five things we learned from this show.
1. The lead character Sam (Keir Gilchrist, The United States of Tara) has difficulty reading social cues and picking up on some aspects of non-verbal communication. He frequently talks about Antarctica and the birds that reside there. He wants to find a girlfriend and he goes through this with his therapist (Amy Okuda). But like most teenagers he does have at least one disastrous date.
2. Sam takes everything literally and this is okay when he’s getting good advice from his counsellor and parents (Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport) but it’s not so good when he’s chatting to a friend named Zahid (Nik Dodani). The latter believes he’s a hit with the ladies and tells Sam that all he needs to do is: be charming, find out about a girl’s partner’s weaknesses and offer her some chocolate-coated strawberries. Indeed.
3. Watching Sam admit that, “People think I don’t know when I’m being picked on. But I do, I just don’t know why” will break your heart. It’s sad, but it will also remind us that things can be challenging for every teenager.
4. Sam loves rules and being in his comfort zone. When he has rules down pat things make sense to him. When he has to go to a new restaurant or place he will “case the joint” or do a practice trip with his parents so he can ask the staff questions and familiarise himself with all of the aspects related to the new setting.
5. Schools can support people with sensory issues by holding a silent dance. This is like a silent disco where people listen to music on headphones. This means that everyone can enjoy themselves and dance and will ensure that those with sensory issues will not become overstimulated.
Atypical is available now on Netflix.