Girl Meets World had an autism episode this week. My daughter and I watched it, like we do. I love(d) Boy Meets World, we’ve watched it, and re-watched it, many times over the years. It hasn’t lost its watchability, I am enjoying it as much (if not more) as an adult as I did as a teen. When Girl Meets World turned into a thing, we jumped on it.
I had no idea what we were in for last night. I saw a few commercials. I knew we were i for an “autism episode” but I had no idea how it was being handled. I won’t lie. I had a moment. We settled into my bed to watch Girl Meets Farkle. As soon as I saw where it was headed I asked my son if he wanted to come in. He declined, which was a shame. (He wound up watching it the next day. Twice.)
So we watched as Farkle tested as a genius (duh?). We watched as Farkle had additional testing done, because maybe there was something more going on, because Farkle is so very Farkly. We watched as they sprung an Asperger’s diagnosis on him, and we watched as they took it back (good, because I wasn’t really headed in that direction with his character) and ended with Farkle being an unknown entity, just how we like him. We discovered that Smackle (whom we also love as a tertiary character) does have Asperger’s, and has had a diagnosis since she was 5.
That was my moment.
I skipped a lot of this episode in this not-really-a-review. If you haven’t seen it, you should. I’m sure Disney will show it five million more times over the next week. As of this posting, we’re on viewing number four. Or is it five?
Yesterday morning, my son did watch it. He got in bed with me and cuddled up to me. He made sure he was in just the right position, that no one else was touching him, and that when he was ready he could easily move away. He made noises of agreement at certain points during the show. When the girls and Farkle are sitting on Riley’s window seat listing off common criteria of Asperger’s/Autism he just kept saying check (the same way Farkle was). He was clapping at the odd moment too. When he watched it again last night (this time with my sister who hadn’t seen it yet) he enthusiastically spoke over the television in numerous places “that’s like me!”
My son has had an autism diagnosis since he was just shy of five. My son has his own set of quirks that I adore, but other people might not understand. He doesn’t like being touched by anyone who isn’t me. He doesn’t give out hugs or kisses to anyone else in the family. He barely tolerates waiting for things and sometimes doesn’t seem to understand why it’s necessary. He is impulsive. He is oblivious to personal safety more often than not. He can be clumsy. He can be annoying with his need to rattle off a million internet meme’s to me even when I am obviously doing something else. He is incredibly smart. He has some amazing insights when he takes the time to think something over. He is often like any other kid, until he isn’t, and it’s super mega obvious.
He has a mainstream show character he can relate to, who has been publicly “outed” (I hate that phrase) as being on the spectrum and owned it. Sure, we can speculate about other mainstream shows and their characters *cough*Sheldon*cough* but without a publicly acknowledged diagnosis, it is only speculation. This is different. This warms my heart to see my kid obviously pleased that someone like him is on TV.