I love “The Big Bang Theory”. I L-O-V-E it. No matter how many times I see the same episodes over and over, I always find myself cracking up at the same parts that I already know are coming. I have a day off today and watched a few reruns in the DVR this morning. The first episode that popped up was called “Guitarist Amplification”. All through the episode the characters are arguing with each other over various things, causing Sheldon, the not-diagnosed-with-autism-but-definitely-has-it-in-some-form character, to have meltdowns. He turns on a loud blender in his apartment to drown out his roommate and girlfriend arguing, screams at his roommate to let him out of the car when he is having a pretend argument with his girlfriend, throws a tantrum in the comic book store when his two friends are fighting, and later runs back to the comic book store again when the Leonard/Penny argument continues. Oh how I can relate. Any arguments in this house will set Michael into a screaming, biting tantrum. I find it bemusing, though, that he only seems to get upset when someone ELSE is getting yelled at. Yell at him for making a mess, teasing the dog, or stealing food and you get no reaction.
Another episode showed Leonard trying to avoid a particular acquaintance and thus ignored his phone call as he and Sheldon ate lunch together. Sheldon began to have an anxiety attack when Leonard refused to answer the phone or check the voicemail. How many times have I noticed a “private” or “unknown” number pop up on my caller ID that I refuse to answer, only to have Michael hand me the phone and repeat “HELLO, HELLO” to me indicating “Answer this – it’s what you do when the phone rings!”.
The thing about that show that warms my heart is something that wouldn’t be obvious to anyone who hasn’t dealt with a child on the spectrum. It’s the practically invisible caring that Leonard has for Sheldon. Leonard is always explaining Sheldon’s behavior away to people and has even left his apartment in the middle of the night to go rescue him after breaking into “Chuck E. Cheese”-type place to use the ballpit. (One of the BEST scenes EVER on that show – Bazinga in the Ball Pit)
Leonard is Sheldon’s roommate and it dawned on me today that he has CHOSEN to live with all that crazy. I’m sure the writers of the show don’t have any of those pragmatics in mind, but that’s just my own interpretation. It reminds me of my boys’ relationship, as well as some of my other friends who have kids on the spectrum alongside typical developing siblings.
I read an article recently where the author expressed his opinion on why Chuck Lorre and the writing/production team refuse to acknowledge that Sheldon is on the spectrum and it made sense to me, from a television/we-need-this-show-to-be-successful standpoint. If they diagnose Sheldon, it might take away from some of the comedy of the show and could spark any number of uproars from those in the autism community who view everything under a microscope. Sheldon has proclaimed numerous times on the show “I’m not crazy – my mother had me tested!”. So somehow, I think we can at least recognize that Mary Cooper must have been through at least some of what we special needs’ parents have endured.
I can only hope that Michael will grow and develop into an independent adult, and have people around him like Leonard, Penny, Howard, and Raj.