While shows such as The Good Doctor, Atypical and Parenthood all focus on boys on the autism spectrum, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay gives a platform to girls on the autism spectrum.
This dramedy that just debuted on Freeform looks at the life of a 20-year-old college student becomes the guardian of his teenage half-sisters after his father dies of cancer. One of the sisters is Matilda, a young girl on the autism spectrum. Matilda has challenges with social cues and is honest to a point of making it challenging for other members of her family. I could relate to a lot of those challenges growing up on the autism spectrum.
Here were some of my key takeaways from the beginning of the show…
Disability representation – Matilda is played by Actress Kayla Cromer who also has autism. Recent studies indicate that 95 percent of top show characters with disabilities on TV are played by actors without disabilities. As an autism entertainment consultant who recently just worked on the HBO series Mrs. Fletcher based on one of the characters who is nonverbal, I’m very excited to see that more people on the autism spectrum are being included in projects such as these. This is a great step towards more representation and authentic performances.
An emphasis on autism & dating – For individuals with high-functioning autism, relationships are going to be possible for some. Matilda in the show talks to boys she’s interested in and openly communicates about things such as sometimes having difficulties with being touched. When I get the opportunity to mentor individuals with special needs, I wish I had more resources I could provide them on relationships minus my own personal successes and challenges dating on the autism spectrum. I hope this show may be able to start a larger conversation on this topic in our community.
Boys are diagnosed with autism 4 more times in the U.S. than girls – When Julia, the first muppet with autism came to Sesame Street I was really excited about the opportunity it brought to give a platform to discuss early intervention along with girl autism. With this TV show though we get to see an actual real-life girl be featured. We have seen few girls featured in our entertainment industry especially in TV (Film has been slightly more represented – a film that I was the autism consultant on in Jane Wants A Boyfriend features a 25-year-old girl with autism trying to find love in NYC).
A beautiful reminder of how parents can often be their child’s greatest advocate – In the pilot episode, Matilda during her father’s funeral says how she had to rely on her dad to help her interpret the world around her. She became the person she did today because of her dad going ‘above-and-beyond.’ I didn’t talk till I was 3, and if my parents didn’t go above-and-beyond for me, much like Matilda’s dad did for her – I wouldn’t be the person I am today who now has a full-time job as a professional speaker and author.
Overall, I would recommend this show without reservations but especially for teens and young adults. I chuckled more than once through the first few episodes and believe this show thanks to its strong acting has true staying potential.
Kerry Magro, an anti-bullying activist, professional speaker, best-selling author & autism entertainment consultant who is also on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help us continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.
Also, consider having Kerry, one of the only professionally accredited speakers on the spectrum in the country, speak at your next event by sending him an inquiry here. If you have a referral for someone who many want him to speak please reach out as well! Kerry speaks with schools, businesses, government agencies, colleges, nonprofit organizations, parent groups and other special events on topics ranging from employment, how to succeed in college with a learning disability, internal communication, living with autism, bullying prevention, social media best practices, innovation, presentation best practices and much more!