We all know about reality television, but for many of us there is another kind. Sometimes, you watch an otherwise fictional show and it hits home so hard it feels like someone is kicking you in the stomach. I am a big fan of the show Parenthood on NBC. The show has a phenomenal group of actors and most of the story lines over the years have been wonderful and extremely powerful. I started watching the show when it began back in 2010. The storyline of Kristina and Adam and their son Max really hit home. Their son was struggling in school with behaviors that nobody understood. During the pilot episode the audience watched as Max was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Their immediate and extended family had a lot to learn, need to adjust, and make changes for their new reality. Suddenly this television show was attempting to thrust autism awareness into the public eye.
I sat with tissues each and every week seeing bits and pieces of Max in my son. Even more painful, I saw the frustrations of Adam and Kristina and their battles with the educational world, including IEPs. I understood their pain when their extremely smart son was being held back academically because others did not understand him, his behavior, and the struggles he had just doing things that we take for granted each and every day.
Then, in June of 2012, we finally got the diagnosis I had assumed for many years and professionals kept going back and forth on. My son is also an Aspie. I am the proud autism advocate who suddenly was watching Parenthood differently when the 2012-2013 season began. As we went into meetings where I was now the parent and not the teacher, I saw things very differently. The Mama Bear that you often see in Kristina Braverman was alive, kicking, and fighting in me. Like this fictional family, so many special needs parents have to battle each and every step of the way to get things for their children. Too many times, behaviors are not understood and the kids are not helped with coping strategies, social skills, and just punished for what is perceived as bad behavior. I wish I could say it has been different for us, but it has not.
Last night, Parenthood was a hard one for me to watch. It seemed like my day was taking place on the television screen. With tears in my eyes, I understood the feelings from both of the mothers that were fighting for their autistic children and their rights. It reminded me that I have to keep pushing, moving, and fighting for my son. If TechyDad and I don’t do it for him, nobody will and he has the right to be who he is, be better understood, and get a proper education. While I may often seem and feel like THAT parent, I am an advocate standing up for my child and I will not stop.
Are you a fan of Parenthood? I would love to know your feelings about the show, especially if you can relate to a specific storyline. To those autism advocates out there, keep pushing and know that you are not alone.
Some of my other posts about autism: