International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Autism in Contemporary TV Shows: A Qualitative Study of the Impact of Educators Perceptions on Neurodiverse Learners
Alana Goldstein, Theodoto W. Ressa

There is a growing trend to represent autism positively in current television shows, and many viewers, including educators, learn about autism from these media. However, media information is never neutral but always laced with the message intended to influence viewers’ perceptions of autistic people. This study sought to explore the depiction of autistic characters in three TV shows to determine the possible consequences of their portrayal, whether accurate or inaccurate, on neurotypical educators. The perceptions nondisabled form from viewing autistic characters in TV can influence their perception of autistic learners. Thematic analysis informed by the disability studies framework reveals that modern-day TV shows feature common autistic stereotypes less representative of the autistic population. Such stereotypes create irreversible incorrect perceptions and beliefs in educators that hurt real autistic students and their community. Then, educators must view TV shows with a critical lens so that they do not form inaccurate perceptions of autistic learners.

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