Grey’s Anatomy/ABC/2005+ (Autism)
Dr. Virginia Dixon (Mary McDonnell), a blunt, socially awkward Cardio-thoracic Surgeon who briefly worked as an attending physician at Seattle General Hospital in the State of Washington.
Dixon was being courted by Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.), the Chief of Surgery to be the next head of Cardio-thoracic Surgery after the departure of Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith). Dixon ultimately declined the position but requested privileges at the hospital.
Called “a little off” by fellow doctors, Dr. Dixon suffered from Asperger syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a child, she stuttered.
Dr. Dixon repetitively offers up all sorts of trivia and data on the subject of the heart. She is an expert in her field and will corrects physicians who use medical terminology inappropriately, like using the colloquial term piggy-back transplant instead of Heterotopic transplant.
She also avoids eye contact, does not comprehend sarcasm and has a thing about being touched. If a patient tries to hug her, she has a panic attack and flees the scene.To alleviate her panic, she needed firm pressure applied across her body to help calm her down. So two of the doctors on duty volunteered to wrap their arms around her body and squeeze. As Dr. Dixon told her helpers, this calming technique was used on cows before they get slaughtered.
Despite her quirks, Dixon performs her surgeries extremely fast. When she operates, she covers her entire head with only her eyes exposed.
Note: The Dr. Dixon character appeared on three episodes of the fifth season of this popular medical drama, including “These Ties That Bind” (2008), “All By Myself” (2008), and “Beat Your Heart Out” (2009).
Actress Mary McDonnell, who played the role of Dr. Virginia Dixon, is perhaps best remembered for her film roles as a white woman named “Stands with a Fist” captured by Native Americans in the western adventure “Dances with Wolves” (1990), snd May-Alice Culhane in Passion Fish (1992), as well as her TV roles as President Laura Roslin on the science fiction series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA/SYFY/2004-2009 and Captain Sharon Raydor on the police drama MAJOR CRIMES/TNT/2012-2016+.