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Max From NBC’s ‘Parenthood’ Talks Asperger’s

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When NBC’s “Parenthood” premiered in March, viewers quickly learned that 8-year-old Max Braverman has Asperger’s syndrome. Since then, autism has emerged as a central part of nearly every episode of the drama, which focuses on the experiences of three generations of a California family.

Max Burkholder plays Max Braverman on NBC's "Parenthood."

Max Burkholder plays Max Braverman on NBC's "Parenthood." (Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)

The Asperger’s storyline follows the family’s journey to accept Max’s diagnosis and help him progress, all while dealing with their own emotions. The show’s heavy focus on life with a developmental disability is believed to be a first and so far audiences both with and without ties to autism seem to be responding.

“While not all parents are dealing with autism or Asperger’s, what I do find is all parents are dealing with something with their kids,” says Jason Katims, the show’s creator who himself has a son on the autism spectrum.

At the heart of the “Parenthood” drama is actor Max Burkholder, 13, in the role of Max Braverman. Nearly halfway through the show’s second season, Burkholder opens up to Disability Scoop about what it’s like to play a character with Asperger’s.

Disability Scoop: How did you land the role of Max on “Parenthood”?

Max Burkholder: I went in to audition and I really liked it a lot, so I was hoping that I would get called back. I had no idea what autism was before so I wanted to be able to learn more. It’s hard sometimes thinking of stuff that a person with autism might do in any given situation, but it’s still really fun.

Disability Scoop: What’s it like to play a character with Asperger’s syndrome?

Max Burkholder: It’s quite a bit harder because I have to figure out a way of expressing what Max is feeling without making it seem that he doesn’t have Asperger’s.

Disability Scoop: What goes through your mind to get into character?

Max Burkholder: I just think what Max might be feeling. He has special interests, like he loves bugs, anything about bugs. So whenever there’s something about bugs I try to seem really interested. But he doesn’t like to be touched so I make myself think that if this person touches me, it’s going to hurt a lot.

Disability Scoop: How do you make sure that your portrayal is realistic?

Max Burkholder: Every couple of episodes I get together with an Asperger’s doctor, the director and the executive producer and we talk about what Max might do in the given situations in the script. I get new ideas about what to do during the scenes — how he would act, what he would say — because a lot of ad libbing happens on the show. As I do more and more, I start to understand more about what Max might be feeling.

Disability Scoop: What have you learned about autism since taking on the role?

Max Burkholder: It’s different for every person, but it’s really just being a little more sensitive than you normally would be to things like sight, sound and touch and they can’t really understand facial expressions and social cues.

Disability Scoop: In real life, are you anything like the character you play?

Max Burkholder: I tend to obsess over things as well. I obsess over video games. In that way, I’m kind of like Max. Another big similarity is I don’t like my food to touch. Some big differences are I don’t mind being touched and I can change the topic of my conversation and I can read expressions.

Disability Scoop: What’s the most challenging scene you’ve had to do on this show?

Max Burkholder: At one point I had a hissing cockroach right in front of me during a scene where I was eating and I just had so much trouble keeping it down. It was not a fun day.

Disability Scoop: Have you gotten any feedback about your portrayal of Max?

Max Burkholder: I recently got a letter from a girl who has Asperger’s and she thought that I was doing well and I was really excited. It’s pretty touching when someone who actually has the syndrome thinks I’m doing a good job at portraying it.

Disability Scoop: Do you know what comes next for Max or is there anything you’d like to see him do?

Max Burkholder: We usually get the script only a few days before we film, so I don’t know what’s coming next. If I had to guess, I’d probably say he gets better. I’d like to see him conquer some of the harder things that people with Asperger’s go through like not being able to read social cues.

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Comments (82 Responses)

  1. autti34 says:

    hi it great there showi ng someone with as it will help alot i have hfa it not the same as aspgers but were close some will think this is the first tv show with a reg chacter with autism but it notr when i was a teen there was a show call st eleswere one of the dr had a boy with severe autism that was in the 80s when autism was conderie rare

  2. audreylueth says:

    I believe the first television show that has a major focus on developmental disabilities was Life Goes On, in which the brother who had Down syndrome actually had Down syndrome. Many of the episodes revolved around some of the challenges Corky faced and the real-life experiences many young adults with developmental disabilities encounter. Though I love Parenthood, I feel that some of the Asperger’s characteristics get a little overplayed. As a high school intervention specialist, I have worked with several students who deal with this challenge every day, but most days are a little more typical than atypical.

  3. dlmgraham says:

    I love Parenthood. I am a parent of a special needs 7 year old and a special educator. On more than one occasion, I found myself tearing up because I can relate to what the mom is going through. So often special needs parents feel isolated. It’s great to see that the emotions, trials and tribulations my family goes through are common enough to be portrayed in a TV show. Great job!!

  4. katiedidkorner says:

    I really appreciate Max taking this seriously. I love this show because my son is 6 and was just diagnosed, and watching this made it clear to me that we needed to have him evaluated. Max Braverman showed the exact signs, (his frustrations, his OCD tenancies, his inability to be flexible with his schedule, his inattentive, or super focused issues, ect) that my son did. I cry when I watch it, because I identify so much. I started watching because of Lauren Grahm (I’m a huge Gilmore Girls fan) but continued because the story continued with Max’s diagnosis and how the family handles it. It is a comforting feeling knowing the rest of the world is watching what I am going through myself, and even if they don’t know me personally, they are thinking, “Someone real is dealing with this, and it must suck.”

  5. jsperky says:

    most days with a child with autism are anything but typical!! they are wonderful amazing children who have a huge burden on them, which in turn, controls everything around them! They struggle, their families struggle, people can be less than understanding, it is a hard hard life!

  6. Erjasmom says:

    Hi, I am the parent of an 11 year old Aspie. The scene in the grocery store could have been a page out of my life. My son counts every item on the belt at the grocery store and will freak out if I try to go on the line with just one too many items or if the person ahaead of us has done so. Many times I have wanted to lash out as Max’s father did. It’s hard to live with the constant scrutiny of other parents. You know you are doing the best for your child, but others judge and think you are a bad parent. I would very much disagree with autti34 because every Aspie child is different. My son rages, but we have 3 friends who have Aspies who do not rage. Every child is different. Every child with Asperger’s will have moments when they are typical and moments when they are not. It’s all about the pre-cursors to their behavior and the ability they have to self-regulate. When my son can receive the sensory input that he needs to self-regulate and when he uses the strategies his psychologist placed in his imaginary “tool box”, he is typical. But, when he cannot use these strategies, he’s almost like the hulk…he loses control in an instant and it’s not his fault. We must do better for our children. We must educate the public about Asperger’s and we must have interventions and psychologists who are trained to provide these interventions…that is the only way we can help our kids! :) Thank you Max for educating the public and for making my son’s life come to life on tv! :)

  7. Erjasmom says:

    I’m sorry I mis-typed the name of the person who I disagree with…autti34, right on! :) It is audreylueth who I disagree with…the Asperger’s characteristics do NOT get overplayed. Every child is different. This is why it’s so important to have shows like Parenthood on TV. Some Aspies would not mind that there are too many items on the grocery belt, but others would…yet all of these children do, in fact has Asperger’s. It manifests differently in every person and that is exactly what the neuro-typical public needs to understand. The character of Max is just one example of Asperger’s. In my son’s case, he has done every single thing that Max’s character has done, and my husband and I have had almost every single emotion, reaction and experience that has been portrayed on the show. Every child is unique! Thank you Parenthood! Thank you Max! :)

  8. bobsuvak says:

    While I don’t watch the show, I have had the opportunity after being diagnosed late in life with Aspergers Syndrome and to look back on my life and my development over the years. Actually I don’t think there is really a difference between autism and Aspergers … more a matter of the severity of the impact.

    Sometimes too much focus is put on “special interests” and “reading social cues”. While I couldn’t stand to be hugged, it wasn’t that it hurt, but rather that it caused me to feel like I was being smothered, the same way I feel in a crowded room, street or subway car.

    As a child, I actually hid from people (mostly figuratively and usually not literally) so that I wouldn’t be noticed or called upon in class … a protective instinct for self preservation I think. I must admit that I really didn’t follow what was being said unless it was something that I found interesting. But I also managed to sidestep a lot of the bullying that seems to go with the autism territory (or maybe I just didn’t notice it, I don’t know).

    But a natural progression over time is that we tend to develop coping mechanisms (even without knowing it) to help us deal with some of the problem areas (inattentiveness, hyper-focus, compulsion, not noticing or interpreting people well, not being able to let people know how we feel – reverse social cue reading).

    Sometime during my later years in high school and into college, I managed to make myself say and do things that I normally was reluctant to do (joining a fraternity, speaking in class, taking leadership roles, etc). Now I’ve been told that I was lucky to be pretty high functioning (rose to middle level management), but a lot of the problems are still there that I need to deal with.

    There needs to be a balance between hopelessness that families feel and the advances that are possible (to varying degrees). Not all of us were geeks on the outside and a lot work hard to be accepted (or at least not made fun of) even if acceptance isn’t high on our list of needs. The “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” is kind of turned on its head in autism … we seem to have a different priority in our needs.

    Well, I guess I rambled on enough for now (actually it’s an Aspergers tendency) and I’m not sure of my point except to hope that progression can be shown, but also that the underlying problems dealing with society still are there at the same time.

    Good luck to the show and especially to those of us that have our problems or traits and to our parents who must struggle to protect their kids (and worry about how they will be later in life).

  9. Idreamea says:

    I love that the world is being exposed to people who experience disability via family friendly media, and Parenthood is a great show. I’d like to see more of a focus on the positive attributes of people who have Autism Spectrum disorders. The diagnosis is not a death sentence, and needn’t be feared. My younger brother has Autism, and I am a professional who serves and supports people with various disabilities. Disability is natural and beautiful in so many ways.

  10. PhilS32767 says:

    Question for Max Burkholder, and his team producing the show: why not spend time with Aspie kids his age, and Aspie kids the age Max Braverman is supposed to be, to learn even more of the nuances of how to portray an Aspie character?
    There’s a real range in how Aspergerian characteristics are portrayed in drama. Films like “Adam” and “My Name Is Khan” go heavy on a multiplicity of symptoms and differences — easily recognizable, but no individual in real life has *all* of those characteristics. Films like “If You Could Say It In Words” or “Smoke Signals” (one of whose protagonists, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, is almost certainly one of us) go the other route — the characteristics are there, but they’re there much more subtly, and in the presence of apparently contradictory characteristics. The reality is that almost all people on the spectrum have *some* characteristics about them that are nominally non-autistic.
    Another thing that would be great for the script, would be for Max and his family to meet *adults* on the spectrum — to understand, and to help audiences understand, what issues and struggles (and triumphs!) come to the fore later in life.
    And another thing: one of the best reactions I’ve heard to “Adam” came from Ari Ne’eman. Ari pointed out that in films like “Adam”, the autistic character is the *only* autistic character. There’s no interaction with other fellow-travelers, no sense of what autistic *community* is all about. (A great read on the topic is “Being Autistic Together”, the paper Jim Sinclair contributed to the January 2010 special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly devoted to autism.)

  11. sandeegc says:

    i find the show fasinating and very true to life. i am only very loosely connected to people with disabilities.
    i am a professional organizer and have many ADD patients referred to me.
    i was wondering if it was intentional that Sarah and Ambers speech patterns are similar to max’s on a much lesser degree, and that crosby’s OCD, with parents that enable him, also show signs of dysfunctional behavior. i am very interested in these behavior patterns, and if i was many years younger, I would probably have been in this professional field.

  12. felicialr says:

    I love the show. Max is doing a great job. He’s not only entertaing but he’s educating people & normalizing ASD. Just like there is a range of neurotypicals, there is a range of those on the spectrum. So although Max does not, in fact it would be impossible, portray everyone on the specrum, his acting is quite credible. Thank you to the producers.

  13. AKAspie says:

    I much prefer the treatment of Abed, in the show community, where it was suggested in the first episode, confirmed and addressed in the second attitude (Abed uses a film class project to show his dad how he saw life growing up with parents who thought he needed to ‘stop being weird’, with him the silent POV as stand-ins for his parents argued, right in front of him, how to interact with him; only paying for college classes that related to normal, career-specific skills like accounting, and not his silly obsession with film. Abed at one point says “TV has logic and rules. Real life doesn’t”. The film ends and Abed’s father understands a slice of life through his son’s eyes, and declares “My son is different. This helps him be understood” and pays for Abed’s eclectic film pursuits thereafter, and lets Abed move out of the house into a dorm room.). that was a wonderful episode, and I admit I tear up and say ‘AW!’ every time, but what makes this series’ portrayal of the Aspie character so great is that it is never specifically discussed in length again, though the study group will sometimes try to tell him ‘to be a little less Abed’, with good intentions of helping him socially, only for Abed to experiment and decide ‘why would I want to be someone other than myself?’ This includes hilarity such as Abed referring to situations the group is in as types of tv tropes and suggest ludicrous courses of action based on that assumption (When the group thinks a fight is too cataclysmic to stay friends after, when everyone else says ‘what to we do now?’, Abed says ‘We do what we always do: we storm out and say the study group is over’, then walks out saying ‘see you guys tomorrow!’. That as the show grew, the ‘normal’ members of the group declare ‘we can’t let him change! He’s Abed, and he’s awesome at it’…even if it means they all play along with a Christmas-fantasy where Abed describes a study-group starring, claymation, made-for-tv Save Christmas special episode to help him deal with the fact that his mother has a new family and isn’t coming for Christmas. While I respect a show like ‘Parenthood’ for dealing continuously with possible realities of raising a child with Aspergers, I prefer it when what’s the character and what’s the disability motivating an action, reaction, interactions or personality itself as manifested in each episode by the actor is not at all addressed. I think every Aspie has wanted to get a remote-controlled neon sign that would say “IT’S NOT MY AUTISM, IT”S JUST ME” to a parent, teacher, or psychiatrist at multiple times throughout their life…I know I have, that’s why I started writing. Community says ‘Hey he’s not weird, he’s Abed and he’s happy? Yeah, he has a disability; what’s that got to do with anything? I highly recommend it to anyone with Aspergers or Autism, parents/friends of the aforementioned, or anyone looking for an awesome show!

  14. knockoutdropper says:

    I think Max Burkholder does an excellent job in his role as a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome; in fact before I read this interview I was thinking that he actually did have Asperger’s Syndrome. I only started watching this show a few weeks ago and it was primarily because someone told me about the Asperger’s storyline. Although I’ve found I actually enjoy most of aspects of it, I am particularly impressed with the show’s portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome, and the way it illustrates so many of the less dramatic issues involved.
    I laughed so hard when I watched the episode where the dad had previously committed to get ice cream but now wants to practice baseball, and Max is all “BUT YOU SAID we would get ice cream!” I think to this day the phrase “BUT YOU SAID…!!” can give my mother an instant headache…

  15. dj says:

    hi everyone, I randomly came on this page because i wanted to know more about the kid that plays max braverman, he does such a great job, I started to wonder if perhaps he does have aspergers in real life but turns out hes just a really great actor. I am now crying because of all the comments i have just read. I have just started my training to be a nurse and it is reading comments like these and finding out what sort of struggles people go through every day that make me glad of the choice i made to want to become a nurse and i hope i will get to make a positive difference even if it will be in just one person’s life :)

  16. Mary MacDougall says:

    Actually, the program “Life Goes On” several years ago (I don’t remember the decade!) portrayed a young man named “Corky” who had Down Syndrome. Even further back in the late 70′s/early 80″s St Elsewhere, a show about a teaching hospital in Boston, MA, had a “single dad” MD with a “typically developing” daughter and a son with Autism. Does anyone remember any others out there? As a speech language pathologist, although I have no children of my own (actually I have “hundreds” & their families, whom I have worked with!) I like to see these real life situations portrayed on the “tube”. I wonder how families with these real challenges relate to the such programs—does it seem realistic? I think you need individuals with disabilities, their parents & siblings to be involved as advisors to get a realistic & honest portrayal. Kudos to those who want to take the leap & depict real life!

    PS as the wife of a retired Army Officer I am often irritated by the portrayal of military families & issues…I have to wonder about the quality of advisement producers get for “military” shows…I will not watch “Army Wives”….it really annoys me!

  17. Teresa Daniel says:

    I love Max. He is so much like my son. A great memory. And when you promise him something you have to follow through. No matter how big or small. He loves computers and video games. Oh, and he loves legos. This show is fantastic. I see the worry in the parents face.Great story!

  18. Shelly says:

    It’s weird because Max even looks like my son who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (but I really think they will change it to aspergers). I had to see if Max really did have aspergers! I could really relate to the hospital scene where Max didn’t want to be there and he said some things that people would consider rude. I could just see my son doing that, as things like that have happened in the past. Terrific show!

  19. holly homan says:

    as someone who has worked extensively with students who have Asperger Syndrome, I can assure you they don’t “conquer” reading social cues. They can learn to read them to a degree, but it never comes “natural” the way it does for those who don’t have autism. I have not watched the show, but I was rather disappointed they didn’t use someone who really was Aspegers. This young actor appears to be a very intelligent, well-spoken young man. He also is sensitive to portraying those with a disability as realistically as he can. I commend him for that. So many shows just write their scripts without knowing anything about the topic.

  20. Joanne says:

    I have a granddaughter with asperger. I am amazed of how well this character is portrayed . I had to check on line to see if he actually has aspergers or not. Thanks for the great acting as it helps for people to know what someone with aspergers is going through.

  21. Carol says:

    Hello Max
    Thank you for the great job you do playing the role of Max on Parenthood. Your portrayol of Max helps others to develop a better unserstanding of what it can be like to have autism. Very nice work.

  22. Guest says:

    @holly homan – I think it would be difficult to find a child with Asperger’s to play this character, because the last thing a little Aspie needs is a full-time job. I have Asperger’s & I literally can’t imagine what a career at age 8 would have done to me. Flexible extroverts are better suited for Hollywood.

    I think Max does a great job, though the character looks much “Aspier” than the Aspies in my life. I don’t doubt that kids like Max exist. But I’ve seen a lot more warmth & seemingly neurotypical behavior from the Aspies I’m close to.

  23. Parenthood obsesser :) says:

    I really love the actors. They are all phenomenal, tremendous figures. I asked my dad if Max really was autistic and he said. I don’t think so. Well, that tells you that you are doIng a fantastic job. I hope the show continues so that I can have enough seasons to show my children about life when I get older.

    P.S: I am 13 and obsessed with this show. (:

  24. M. Townes says:

    Erjasmom,
    I completely agree with your statement that we need to educate the public about Asperger’s. I am the parent of an 18 year old who was not diagnosed until he was 16 years old (extremely late). Prior to that, I thought it was Executive Function Disorder. I think his diagnosis was delayed by his ADHD. These children are at such a disadvantage due to a general lack of public knowledge about the disorder. My son will graduate from high school and it has been an adventure for him. I am extremely proud of him.

  25. emghee says:

    @ holly homan:
    A few things are VERY bothering to a parent of a child with [insert any disability here]:
    Limiting the person by stating – aloud or in one’s mind – “they will never conquer…”, however true it may be in a however long professional experience. That is where parents resign to “only another parent really gets IT”. Very few professionals in the field of working with people with disabilities have the gift of not limiting them. And even though parents realistically know there is a limit somewhere, nobody can know where that is, and when we stay open-minded, we might just raise the glass ceiling.
    Not using people first language by stating “… someone who was Aspergers …”: nobody IS Asperger’s or Down Syndrome (or worse Downs), or anyting else. People HAVE Asperger’s, HAVE Down Syndrome, HAVE Prader Willi Syndrome, etc. Please educate yourself by looking up People First Language. Thank you.
    And last but not least:
    Don’t assume you know it, if you haven’t lived it. We know what happens when you ass-u-me.
    How dare we claim to know what it’s like to be missing a leg, just because we work with people missing legs.
    How dare we claim to know what it’s like to loose a child, just because …
    How dare we claim what it’s like to be ignorant, just because …

  26. Richard says:

    love this show. i was diagnosed a coupla years back and have very close friends with aspergers and he gets it so spot on that i thought for a while he really did have it, then was kinda surprised when i found out he didn’t. yeah great actor. although, even if he gets nominated ( i would assume it would be for the supporting category) i still wouldnt want him to win. that belongs to aaron paul or giancarlo espiosito or dean norris. but as far as Game of thrones ort mad men, i couldnt care less about those shows, but i know those have some supporting people who will get nominated, so yeah, max should definitely get a nomination, but he wont. and jason issacs from awake should get one, and the show awake should get one that was amazing, especially those last few episodes.

  27. heather hudson says:

    I absolutely love this show and I am pleased that it portrays all asspects of family life,central the Max who has Aspergers and how he as well as other family and friends are affected and what they are thinking and feeling,etc.. My son is 9 years old at an age 4 to 6 age level and has high functioning autism [moderate degree] also has sensory issues[severe degree] but my family is finally gaining understanding beyond what I try and explain and teach them-this show covers all and they get a different perspective and also relate to family members who feel hurt,left out,angry etc.. Awesome and well done-keep this show going!!!! From a mom who so appreciates and loooves this ever important show-Heather

  28. cordovacutie says:

    I love Parenthood. I think it is a great show about how that family deals with “Max”. I have four children. My son has PDD NOS, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Developmentally Delayed, Speech and Language Delay, ect. After watching most of the first season I started asking my family and friends to watch the show. I really think the show can help those who do not have a special needs child to not always jump in with comments like if you would not baby them so much and you need to punish them for their bad behavior. It is not bad behavior; its them trying to deal with life.

  29. Dhunter says:

    I love the show Parenthood. I love all the characters. My son in a nonverbal child with Autism and I have a cousin with Asperge’s. I watch the show faithfully. BIG FAN! Max inspires me, he give me hope. One day I hope my son will talk or at least be able to communicate to me how his day was or is. Thank you Parenthood.

  30. Clare says:

    Great article. My son is 18 and has Asperger’s. He’s very high functioning, drives, and is a touchy, huggy, affectionate person. He was taught to read expressions in grade school, and correctly interprets all my facial expressions. There are some social cues he misses, but not facial expressions. So, not everyone with Asperger’s is uncomfortable with touching nor unable to read facial expressions.

  31. jan margrave says:

    i have a friend who is a speech therapist who goes to homes and works with Asperger’s teens to help them read social cues. Wondering if this concept could be worked into the show. Seeing teens with Asperger’s make progress in this area would be encouraging to others who struggle with Aspergers.

  32. Sijai says:

    I love the show, Parenthood. The story line pulls me straight in with the everyday life happenings. All the characters are right on with their roles. I so enjoy Max and his beautiful portrayal of life as a person with Asperger’s syndrome. My grandson has Aspergers, thankfully with his family he is a snuggle bug! He has a lot to say when he is on a topic he’s absorbed in. So much like Max as he portrays Max!

    Thank you for this wonderful show with a 21st century look at life. Sijai

  33. Virginia Bland says:

    Great job on your portrayal of Max. You should be nominated for an Emmy, you are truly amazing.

  34. Hazel says:

    Max, you’re doing a great job! I hope this show goes on for a very long time and deals with Max’s challenges as a teenager, in school and out, especially with bullying from other kids. I think it would help other kids with Autism or Asperger’s to deal with their experiences. As a parent of a middle-aged man with high-functioning Autism (not Asperger’s, though), I can easily identify with a lot of what goes on in the show. It helps me to see it on the screen.

  35. Robert Wallin says:

    What a coup at landing this interview. Max’s performances always put me on edge with his intensity, and I am learning alot about myself from his portrayal. Good job!

  36. AspieAngel says:

    Max Burkholder does an amazing job portraying a young male Aspie. I truly enjoyed the Oct 23 episode when Max runs for student council president. He said that having Aspergers is his strength and that reminded me of people finding out I have Aspergers and saying so sorry. This always irritated me as I have always considered my Aspergers as a gift. It was difficult when I was younger, being so different.I’m not saying it has always been an easy road and have been asked if I could not have it, would I? My response will always be no.God makes each of us for a purpose. Remember, many of the advances in tecnology come from the Autistic. Think about that.

  37. Lexii McLane says:

    I have asperger’s and is very hard to tell people’s emotions and feelings

  38. sandy degrasse says:

    Max you are a great Actor!! I work with kids with autism/asperger’s and I would like to think I know and understand the way they look at life. As I watch you on the show I forget that you are acting. Keep up the great work. Parenthood is the only t.v. show that I look forward to all week. I am married and have 2 boys 9&12 years old and I have 4 siblings the show is so realistic!
    Happy New Year,

    Sandy

  39. audrey says:

    our boy has aspergers. he is sensitive to light and sound and touch. he hugs by touching your forehead with his if you get an actual hug it is wonderful because it doesn’t happen very often. he obsesses over certain toys, horses and tornadoes. and of course he is very literal and doesn’t understand idioms. ex raining cats and dogs. the show is great and max does a good job playing the part

  40. Dee says:

    I love Max in this role he is great; I wondered if he really had Aspergers good job Max; I love this show it is so real. This show is like some of the old night time shows; back in the 70′s and 80′s thanks for a good job writers and actors. Dee

  41. Cordelia Bemis says:

    Max is a good actor portraying some of the characteristics, habits of a person who is affected with a different type of brain development/thinking that is labeled Asperger’s syndrome. These people are considered high functioning because most people around them would not think they have any problems, only that if they try harder that they could be just like everyone else working “normally” without their “odd” behavior. Because of their dysfunctional sensory issues-not getting or getting too much information through their sensory systems, they over react and/or are under responsive to many surrounding stimulations like sounds, sights, smells, tastes, touching, or movements. Depending on which, how many, or what degree that sensory system(s) is/are affected will depend on how the personality evolves. High functional Aspies are all around us. They are the weird, odd, strange, peculiar, different, eccentric, unconventional people we may know & accept them in our workforce who have jobs but just need that extra consideration to function at their highest level to be a productive member of our society. I have very close relatives like that, one with a possible diagnoses, even think I have it, as I was considered “odd”, “different” by my peers, but because of positive family support, education, I have as well as most of my family members are productive self-supporting individuals. Education, self-education like Max is doing is one way to help those with disabilities understood by their families & the public. Keep up the great acting, but it would be greater if the true Aspies could be included as your friends in the show! They are the true actors, as they have to act “normal” to succeed in their lives.

  42. eeastwood says:

    Max is an amazing actor- I really thought he must have been autistic as he does the acting so well!!

  43. geeegee says:

    wish they would have gotten a real kid with Asperger’s to play the role. One out of 100 kids now born on the spectrum…and many actors among them….

  44. Aeva says:

    The fact that I am only 18 minutes into the first episode of Parenthood and could already tell that Max had Aspergers is a testament to the acting ability of this child. While I am not a parent and have never interacted with a child Max’s age on the Autism spectrum, I have a number of friends with the disorder that have come into my life during our teens and early twenties that have told me of their childhood experiences.

    The moment I suspected that Max might have Aspergers, I had to look it up to see what others were saying, because I wouldn’t want to continue watching it if it was inaccurate or judgmental. As both a lesbian and somebody who suffers from a mental disorder, I understand just how important the right depiction and representation is on television. I am so glad to see that you’re all pleased with the way both the character and the issue are portrayed.

  45. Suzanne says:

    As a parent of a son (26) with Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m continually amazed and impressed that Max plays this character perfectly! With the exception of Max’s long hair, I swear I’m seeing my son at that age, and watching the scenes with Max and his family over the first couple seasons was very emotional for me. I felt like I was reliving all the exasperation, isolation and other intense emotions that we all experienced while my son was growing up.
    In my experience, his character and the scripts involving him and his family are NOT overplayed Remember, Autism and more specifically, Asperger’s, are SPECTRUM disorders. There are kids and adults who seem slightly effected (perhaps considered just a little “odd”), all the way to others who are much more severely so. The challenge for those who are among the first generation who were diagnosed (only relatively recently was it officially named), is that they also need to provided intensive life skills, job skills, etc. Job interviews are particularly difficult because of how their awkward social skills and difficulty in reading social cues. Though often very bright, it’s typically difficult for Asperger’s adults to find employment that suits sensory issues, but is also worthy of their fine intellect and education. In some cases, unfortunately they refuse to divulge their diagnosis to their employers, setting themselves up for poor job reviews, etc. Trying to find the support systems and the bureaucratic delays are a challenge in and of themselves! Sorry, I could go on & on… It doesn’t end with they leave the nest, believe me!

  46. Brendan says:

    I think they should put disabled people on TV because I have a disability and would like to see more disability on TV.

  47. Juli says:

    The child playing Max does an amazing job. I would like to see the family cope with a GFCF diet.

  48. Allison says:

    I think Max does a great job playing “Max.” Meeting with teens and adults who have Asperger’s might be useful in an effort to deepen the character. Writers & Producers might want to know that the new DSM V plans to eliminate Asperger’s Syndrome as an exclusive diagnosis. This is something to consider researching and writing into the script. Legislation affects services available to individuals and families affected by Asperger’s. This is very real.

  49. Anne O'Hern says:

    I love the show “Parenthood”! I recommend it to my family and friends often. I’m new to the disability world and find it very interesting. I’ve only been on the job just over 3 weeks and love it. Good job portraying a child with Asperger’s Max! I’m 54 years old and have learned and will continue to learn from that special boy.

  50. 247Life says:

    This is a step in dispelling myths about Autism. But I wonder when will media and television shows start casting female characters with Asperger’s and Autism. Girls have it too– time to dispel the myths, for real.

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