Disability or Ability- TV's Alphas

I watch a fair amount of TV. Now that I'm home 2 extra days, I keep it on for noise during the day. One of the shows i have started watching is Alphas from the SyFy channel.

Alphas so far appears to be a fairly standard superheroes kind of show in the line of XMen, Heroes, etc mixed in with some espionage and spy work. I like those kind of shows, so I can tolerate some of the less-than-awesome dialogue and recycled plots. Of the 5 types of Alphas described, even mild comic book or superhero fans could list other characters that fit these types.

What spiked my interest in the show was the character who is a "transducer" and able to act as an antenna to intercept and decode messages. "Gary" is able to read all wavelengths- TV, cell phones, computer traffic on the internet, etc. This is an astounding amount of information to absorb, but he is able to help break codes and find information for the rest of his Alpha team. In daily life however, he appears to be on the autism spectrum (some episodes more severe than others), getting assist from his mom or team members for many daily tasks. In a follow up episode, a new character is introduced who is a human "Rosetta Stone," capable of understanding and translating any language, but also considered autistic by those not familiar with Alpha-skills, since she is unable to make eye contact or communicate except by making seemingly random scratches on her hairbrush and other materials.

I won't say that the depictions offered on TV of a person with autism are entirely realistic. I've only seen 2 episodes, but even within that time frame, Gary's eye contact, speech patterns, social skills, and repetitive motions have changed considerably. Some of this is likely due to the actor becoming comfortable with the character, and the changing demands for different episodes. But I particularly like the concept that a person considered disabled in the context of average humans is valued as a superhuman by those "in the know." Which makes labels like "disabled" or "dysfunctional" worthless, since the ability (especially in this case) is all in how the person is treated and enabled. A not too deep encouragement for us to look past labels and prognoses and focus on abilities.

PS- I believe that Modern Family features a character with autism as well, but despite some of my friends liking the show I have never seen it.

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