We absolutely love the NBC drama ‘Parenthood’, particularly for it’s portrayal of Max, a young teenager with Asperger’s. Max – with all of his endearing quirks, sharp wit, affinity for routines and social gaffes — reminds us so much of our campers at Camp Akeela. This is the population that we’ve dedicated our professional lives to, and that brings us so much joy, laughter and pride each summer. It’s been a lot of fun seeing Asperger’s emerge into the public’s consciousness over the last few years, in part due to ‘Parenthood’. When we describe the mission of Camp Akeela to people we meet, Max is often a point-of-reference for them.
The show has done a great job showing Max and his family in a realistic light. Yes, he can be really frustrating. He sometimes has what we call “meltdowns” and has had to work really hard to control certain behaviors that were getting him in trouble at school. He often puts his foot in his mouth, or worse, hurts the feelings of someone who loves him.
It’s clearly not always easy being a parent or sibling in Max’s home. But the overwhelming picture we get of Max is how sweet and smart and funny and loveable he is. This affectionate but unsentimental portrait of Max immediately convinced us that someone writing for the show knows what he/she is talking about. Indeed, executive producer Jason Katims has a son with Asperger’s Syndrome.
If you don’t already watch the show, check it out!