tv and autism

When we were first visable in TV and Film

Remember that look upon your face when you got your first TV?

And it was in black and white and then later in colour, it sat proudly in your lounge room, dad held the controls (if it had any some sets didn’t) and if that was the case then he’d instruct you to get up and flick a button until a station was reached and everyone settled down for the night. If you could afford it you might have bought a TV guide but on a rota system one of you either you or one of your siblings would stand hand reaching across to the TV button and press away. If you were the only child then you knew what was headed your way. A night of clicking through various networks. 

Now a days TV sets have fancy shamancy things inside them and you can control it via an app (probs) or with your eyes (again probs) but you get my jist. 

Anyway it got my thinking when did the first autistic character appear on TV?

Well good news folks for I have the answers. To that and many more. You see we haven’t just appeared on TV or no! We’ve managed to get ourselves into other areas. So here is the list. 


1969 Amanda Lorena Kirk Change of Habit


Elvis plays a young doctor, singer, and community activist running a clinic in Spanish Harlem. Mary Tyler Moore plays Michelle, a plainclothes nun who has been trained as a nurse and speech therapist. 

One of his patients is a young, mute girl, Amanda, who shows no emotion, rocks back and forth, resists being touched, makes poor eye contact, and clutches a Raggedy Ann doll. The aunt who brings her to the clinic (it is important to note that the mother has abandoned the child) assumes she is deaf, but the speech therapist, Mary Tyler Moore, says to Elvis, “I think she’s autistic.” Though she tries her best, she cannot get the girl’s attention. Elvis steps in, realising that, as a result of her mother’s departure, Amanda does not know how to love.

A clip of it is here 


1996 Seth Garin The Regulators Stephen King


The story takes place in the fictional town of Wentworth, Ohio, a typical suburban community. On Poplar Street, an autistic boy named Seth has gained the power to control reality through the help of a being known as Tak. Soon, Poplar Street begins to change shape, transforming from a quiet suburb into a wild west caricature based on what Seth has seen on his television. Meanwhile, the other residents of the street are being attacked by the many beings that Seth’s imagination is creating, due to Tak’s control over them. These residents are forced to work together to stop Seth and Tak from completely transforming the world around them and stop Tak before he kills anyone else.

Seth’s imagination is heavily influenced by a western called The Regulators and a cartoon called MotoKops 2200. The novel contains excerpts from scripts for both.


Timmy Carson David Hollander “A Test for the Living” Quincy, M.E. 1978 episode 

Summary of the episode 

A young boy who has run away from a home for mentally handicapped children is found dead. When Quincy performs the autopsy, however, he can find no medical reason for the boy being labeled mentally handicapped. He consults with an expert who suggests the boy may have been autistic instead. Quincy learns of another boy who is about to be committed to the same institution who may also be autistic, and fights to have him properly diagnosed before time runs out to get him into a proper school instead.


1997 “Spoonface Steinberg”  by Lee Hall

View the entire play below

Video games

2001 Charlie Kane’s unnamed son Twisted Metal Black

Details can be read here

So looking at it we’ve appeared on TV since 1978 onwards in various TV shows, only once in a theater production, since 1996 in literature, since 1969 in film and since 1941 in the comic book series of Aquaman character was called Black Manta. 

Thanks for reading this Friday’s blog post see you all on Monday for another one. 

You can read the full list here