Friday, October 01, 2010

private practice hates mothers of children with autism.

Last night was the last time I will ever watch Private Practice. I really should have stopped after the whole Violet getting cut open on her living room floor and having her baby ripped out of her episode, but I hung on for another season. What can I say, I have a weakness for the sexy guy from Wings. The writers have been getting lazy – every storyline involves serious moral dilemmas where judgment is thrown around like a foosball, with no thought to who it hits or where it lands. And wow, the Autism plots – they really shed an inaccurate light on this disorder, doing the families and individuals affected by this gut wrenching disease a real disservice.

In a previous season, a mother is taken to task for not vaccinating her son for fear that he would develop Autism like his older brother. Of course, the worst thing possible happens, the son contracts measles and dies. Then Cooper took it upon himself to vaccinate her youngest son without her permission. The overarching tone of the episode was that he did the right thing because clearly this mother does not have her children’s best interests at heart.

But yesterday’s episode – that took the cake for me. Enter single mother – portrayed by Justine Bateman, looking exhausted and strung out, with her son who we are told has a diagnosis of Autism. Turns out mom is a patient of the clinic as well, and has been getting prescribed medicinal marijuana to help with headaches. Apparently she has been giving it to her son as well, because she is so desperate for something, anything to help manage his behaviour. She has given up on ABA, diets, and everything else that is known to help manage Autism, and now she has turned to illegal drugs. Judge away. Clearly she is an unfit mother. It gets better.

Cooper and the hot wings doc cut off her supply of “safe” weed and she turns to the streets to get weed for her son. And then he gets super sick, she ends up in the ER, he almost dies, and it’s all because she gave him weed laced with PCP. They report her and she gets dragged away in handcuffs by the police while being told that her son will be better off without her and she has to pay for what she did. Nice.

Okay – so, my key issue here is that once again, we are portraying the mother of the child with Autism as a horrible parent who is making terrible decisions that are putting her child in danger. The REAL issue for any and all families who are caring for a person with Autism is that they don’t have enough, if any, support. THAT is the story. Not that mothers of children with Autism are unfit and unbalanced. To portray it as anything else is ignorant and irresponsible.

So, goodbye Private Practice, and good riddance. If you ever need a consultant for Autism content, let me know. You certainly need one.


  1. Anonymous10:47 a.m.

    Amen. That episode was certainly a low point in popular media's coverage of ability issues. I was also somewhat put off by their handling of transgendered persons. What the show reflected well was the real inabilities of a certain percentage of individuals in the medical establishment.

  2. Anonymous10:57 a.m.

    Thank you! As a mom to an autistic child, who by the way is not anything like the child portrayed on the show, I took offense to the whole thing. I don't know any parents of autistic children who act all unbalanced and strung out. I think the show was supposed to be some kind of social commentary on marjuana to treat autism. But it was an epic fail.

    As the poster above said, they also did a crap with transgendered people.

  3. Oh, the transgender issue deserves its own entire post. As the friend of a transgender person I found that entire plotline hurtful and thought it actually did quite a bit of damage to the transgender movement. Shame on private practice all around.

  4. Anonymous11:21 a.m.

    So what do we really learn from this show? That the group of well (over) paid professionals they portray have no moral compass and no understanding of the serious emergent issues confronting the populations they "treat."

  5. Oh yeah - which brings up the other plotline of the merger of the 2 competing clinics and Sam and Naomi's deep rooted desire to really, truly, understand the full depth of every patient's needs. It would seem they have their work cut out for them...

  6. Totally agree. I just HATE Cooper so much in so many ways, I can't even tell you. I have a very good friend who treats her child with medical marijuana with the full blessings of all his many doctors. The show really did a huge disservice to this issue. Uneducated judgment runs rampant on this show!

  7. No more trash TV. Oh wait we don't even have TV anymore!

    I gave up on that show after episode 2 haha. So glossy and forced-down-your-throat story line, political correctness gone mad etc etc.

    I watched Disney's Tarzan (1999) with my son last night. He was so in to it, and its funny and Tarzan is different, like his gorilla family wont accept him, and he has this unique way of looking at the world, and is a total echoic and starts learning with visuals (projector slides) - and so handsome, seriously who needs TV :D