Autism and Sheldon CooperAutism and Sheldon Cooper

Why do I have Sheldon Cooper on the brain?

Sheldon Cooper is one of the main characters on the TV show The Big Bang Theory.

I guess there are several reasons why I’ve had Sheldon Cooper on my brain lately.

First, the regular season (Season 11) of Big Bang is back and I’ve watched two new episodes.

Second, the recent discovery that my son is being bullied in one of classes.

Third, I watched a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory spinoff called Young Sheldon.

Fourth, I took my son to a train museum this past weekend. My son processed to ask the docent (a young man who volunteers there on weekends) about a hundred train-related questions. A few times I heard my son begin to ask another question even before the docent was finished answering the previous question. (I had to ask my son to slow it down a bit.)

How does my son connect with Sheldon Cooper?

The very first scene of the pilot episode of Young Sheldon shows shots of model trains. When I began to watch the show, my son was coming into the room. I told him to look at the TV. He did, and watched the opening because, well, my son loves trains. He was very impressed by the model train setup on the TV.

And, this happened only a few short hours since my son was upstairs working on the scenery for his own model train setup.

My son and Sheldon Cooper are different in many ways.

One important way is that the character of Sheldon Cooper has never been diagnosed as even being on the autism spectrum. The closest the show has come to trying to “quietly” call it autism (or Aspergers) is having Sheldon’s mother, Mary, say, “I should have followed up with that specialist in Houston.”

That reference and the many times Sheldon and the other characters on the show have stated that Sheldon (and the other “nerds) have had difficulty reading facial expressions and social cues, understanding idioms and sarcasm, and being “appropriate” in certain social situations.

This is different than my son who was diagnosed at age three.

However, my son has a few similar characteristics that he shares with the fictional Sheldon Cooper.

My son has been bullied. Now, as I stated in my earlier blog, I thought the bullying of my son was going to come, at least, in middle school. And, it never did. Oh, he probably heard a comment or two. But, he wasn’t blatantly bullied like was recently discovered.

Sheldon Cooper and the other fictional characters on the show talk about their exploits being bullied often in the show.

(On a side note, recently there was an author out there who had made up a reference that pertained to Sheldon Cooper called “Cute Autism.” This author was trying to say that TV shows like Big Bang and Young Sheldon try to “soften” autism by making it, well, soft. I guess the author feels the characters are not that real. I also guess that the author feels this is a disservice to autism in general.

I couldn’t disagree more. First, it appeared to me that this author hadn’t really watched ANY of The Big Bang Theory shows. The author stated, “The characters act like they’ve never been bullied.” Sorry, they talk about it all the time. Second, those are TV shows. TV that are comedies. Comedies have to…make people laugh or they go off the air. And, people (Actors, directors, electricians, grips, etc.) lose their jobs. The pilot episodes and the subsequent “TV Show Bible” has to so impress a network that they order the pilot to be made and even a few episodes. Then, the show has to garner an audience of some kind.

That’s the way these things work.

They are not real people, because they are fictional TV characters that are on…a TV show.

There is no such thing as “cute autism.” Would you call Shawn from The Good Doctor (another show I love) part of this “cute autism” moniker?

TV shows are doing a fantastic job of creating characters on the autism spectrum (whether that character is stated as having a definitive diagnosis or not). They’re doing it. They’re venturing into these very complex characters and audiences are responding.

Even in my own writing, I’m writing more and more characters with “autistic-like” qualities.

And, loving it.

And, loving what’s out there now. So, stop trying to bring it down with “ideas” that are unclear and basically a bunch of nonsense. Or, maybe watch the show more closely. And, be proud that writers and TV networks are very much embracing the autism community.)

Now, back to my blog…

My son loves trains. We just drove out to Pomona to visit a train museum. And, yesterday we hung out at the Griffith Park Travel Town where my son is going to be volunteering!

My son’s collection of HO model trains is growing (it seems like) every month.

And, his train knowledge is expanding by leaps and bounds.

Also, similar to Sheldon Cooper, my son loves computers, video games, and anything technical.

How else does my son remind me of Sheldon Cooper?

He is still socially awkward. Just today, when he was walking to the train docent, he would turn his body and it appeared as if he wasn’t listening to the docent answer his question (he was, though).

My son will also, sometimes, say exactly what’s on his mind, unfiltered.

My son is being honest, truthful.

However, socially, sometimes one needs a filter. One doesn’t NEED to be quite so truthful!

What’s the take-away here?

Fictional characters are just that, they are fictional. Not real. Perhaps, often, based on real people, or a mixture of several people. A little bit of this person and a little bit of that person. And, a little bit of stuff that we writers just plain make up.

But, I like Sheldon Cooper. The fictional character.

And, my son being just a little bit like that character is okay.

That’s the real part of what’s happening here. A real person has a bit of a fictional character in him.

And, that’s just fine. Autism and Sheldon Cooper.

Here’s some more interesting Sheldon Cooper commentaries, in terms of whether Sheldon Cooper is connected to autism, or not.


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