beatrice_otter: Black and white image of Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds, with bulletproof vest and gun. (Emily Prentiss)
posted by [personal profile] beatrice_otter at 01:24am on 24/02/2011
Grr.  So, of course the autistic kid in tonight's episode of Criminal Minds is lower-functioning than Rain Man.  Never mind that most people with autism (particularly ones who are diagnosed as children and whose parents put time, effort, and money into therapy as this kid's parents obviously have) are higher functioning than that.  I could deal with that; after all, there are definitely people that low-functioning, and it's what the whole drama of the episode is based on, that they need to figure out a way to communicate with the kid to find out who kidnapped his parents.  Then Reid is at the kid's school talking with his principal, and spouting off about how autistic kids are more logical than others--often true--and how they see patterns more clearly than other people do which is false.  The reason people with autism get obsessed with patterns is because they have a harder time figuring out patterns than most people do, and so cling to the patterns they do understand (often numbers, statistics, a daily routine, etc.) as a kind of shield against a world that they find chaotic and often incomprehensible.  If you can't find the pattern in the sound of a large crowd, if your brain is trying to take each voice and sound and figure out what it's saying, then a crowd is overwhelming because you have problems tuning out what's just background noise and what's the person you're trying to talk with.  That's one of the reasons that people on the autism spectrum tend to prefer "blander" or less intense sensory stimulation (dimmer lights, quieter sounds, fewer spices, less touch, no perfume or cologne), because they can be overwhelming. 

And then we found out, he's a genius piano player!  (Well, maybe not genius, but certainly very good, and it's apparently the only thing he can do besides stare at the ceiling.)  Which is not necessarily impossible, or even implausible--given his parents' profession, if he got obsessed with music, he might spend hours practicing while in his parents store.  But combine it with virtually non-verbal, and it plays right into the whole "idiot savant" stereotype.

I like the picture flipbook stuff, though, that's well done and accurate.  The kid acting like a zombie the whole time, or a robot, is definitely not.  He wouldn't look or act like a normal kid, no, but he wouldn't be a zombie.  Aside from one instance (shrieking at being touched), I kept expecting him to either keel over dead or go "brains BRAAAAAAIIINNNSSSSSS!"

Of course, a large part of my kvetching is because Criminal Minds is usually so good, so it sticks out when it isn't.

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