The Good Doctor/ABC/2017 (Autism/Savant)
Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young man with autism who relocates from a quiet country life in Cheyenne, Wyoming to join a prestigious pediatric surgical unit at San Jose St. Boneventure Hospital in California.
In addition to his autism, Shaun also has savant syndrome with genius level skills in several areas. He has almost perfect recall. He sees things and analyses things that others can not.
“We hire Shaun and we give hope to those people with limitations that those limitations are not what they think they are. That they do have a shot” – Dr. Aaron Glassman
Shaun is also very honest, like the time he said to Dr. Claire Brown, “Why were you rude to me when we first met and now you want to be my friend? Which time was it when you were pretending?”
THE GOOD DOCTOR is based on the 2013 South Korean series of the same name. Graham Verchere portrays a younger version of Shaun in flashbacks.
American Horror Story/FX/2011-2017 (Down Syndrome)
Adelaide “Addie” Langdon (Jamie Brewer), young woman with Down Syndrome who is the daughter of Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange). They live next door to a haunted mansion called “The Murder House” in Los Angeles, California.
We first see Addy (Katelyn Reed) in the 1970s warning her twin brothers Troy and Brian not to go into “The Murder House.” Addy tries to tell the boys they will die if they enter the house, but they enter, begin to vandalize the place and they are killed, just as Addy prophesied.
Now grown up, Addy once again warns the new residents of the Murder House they will die, but the Harmons dismiss Addy’s statement as being a playful statement.
Meanwhile, Addy is drawn to the house and the Harmons discover Addy has entered their home on a number occasion. Addy visits the house to play with her friends, which turn out to be ghostly spirits of people who have died in the building, which include the ghosts of her brothers, Troy and Brian.
When Addy discovers home invaders have broken into house, she runs to tell her mother, but Constance refuses to listen and locks her daughter in a closet (“The Bad Girls Room”) whose walls are lined with mirrors, forcing Addy to look at her face, which her mother tells her is ugly.
When Halloween arrives, Addy asks if she can be a pretty girl. Constance provides Addy with a rubber mask of a pretty girl and Addy leaves to go trick or treating. Unfortunately, Addy is killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street in 2011.
In an effort to save her daughter, Constance drags Addy toward the Murder House in hopes that her spirit would somehow attach itself to the place and thus, keep Addy there for her mother. But Addy dies before that could happens. At the morgue, a now remorseful Constance applies makeup to Addy’s face and calls her daughter beautiful.
Later, with the help of a medium, Constance communicates with Addy’s spirit who tells her mother she was glad that her ghost had not been trapped in the Murder House.
Note: Jamie Brewer, who played Addy in the first installment of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: MURDER HOUSE returned in more stories. In the third season, COVEN, she plays Nan, a young enigmatic witch and clairvoyant who attended Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. In the fourth season, FREAK SHOW, she appeared as a living ventriloquist doll named Marjorie.
Born with Down syndrome on February 5, 1985, Jamie Brewer began acting in 1999. She has trained at ‘The Groundlings Theatre and School’, and continues her training through the theatre and in improvisation at ‘The Ruskin School of Acting’.
She has been involved with a several non-profit organizations, including DSALA, DSiAM, BTAP, National Down Syndrome Congress, American Association of People with Disabilities of the United States, and Civitan International.
On February 12, 2015, she became the first model with Down syndrome to walk the runway during New York Fashion Week when she took part in Carrie Hammer’s “Role Models Not Runway Models” campaign.
Another disabled character to appear on AMERICAN HORROR STORY: MURDER HOUSE was a disfigured man named Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare), a former resident of the Murder House whose wife and child burned in a fire. He was in love with Constance Langdon, but she never reciprocated his emotions.
Constance’s son Tate was the one responsible for Larry’s burns. He knew that Larry killed his brother, Beauregard, and retaliated by dousing Larry with lighter fluid and setting him on fire. In 1994, Tate Langdon murdered 15 people with a shotgun at Westfield High School.
90210/CW/2008-2013 (Bipolar Disorder)
Erin Silver (Jessica Stroup) is a teenager with bipolar disorder. She attends West Beverly High School and aspires to be a filmmaker. She is the younger half sister of David and Taylor Silver who lived in Beverly Hills, California.
As Erin struggles with her bipolar disorder, she exhibits reckless behavior, (hurling wine bottles, setting garbage cans on fire), rambling speech, grandiose ideas, hypersexuality, lack of sleep, euphoria, confusion and destructive tendencies.
When Erin was diagnosed with bipolar, she was frustrated at having to maintain a strict regimen, including a keeping a regular schedule for meals and sleep, taking her medication, seeing her therapist, keeping a journal and avoiding anything stimulating.
On one occasion, Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes), Erin’s alleged best friend switches her Bipolar medication with placebos and tries to steal her boyfriend, Navid (Michael Steger). Without her proper prescription, Erin spins out of control, dyes her hair red, and then has to be admitted to a psych ward for observation. Later, Adrianna’s mean deed is exposed and Erin reunites with Navid.
During her manic episode, Erin aced her interview with the representative from New York University, but then she totally blew her chances for acceptance by calling him about 1,000 times afterwards with every random thought in her head.
Whenever possible Erin’s sister, Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), a guidance counselor at West Beverly High School tried to help Erin maintain a rigorous routine. It was also revealed that the birth mother of Erin’s friend, Dixon Wilson suffered from bipolar disorder.
Note: The Erin Silver character (Mercedes Kastner) appeared in 17 episodes of the original series BEVERLY HILLS 90210 (1997-2000) and 114 episodes of the sequel series 90210 (2008-2013).
On the series finale, Erin Silver (Jessica Stroup) was diagnosed with cancer. Earlier in the series, Erin had reconnected with her estranged mother who died of breast cancer.
Push Girls/SUNDANCE TV/2012-2013 (Wheelchair)
Angela Rockwood, one of four disabled females living in Los Angeles, California who face day-to-day challenges of women paralyzed by illness or accident.
The reality-documentary series chronicles the struggles of four sexy, dynamic Hollywood women as they “push” through stereotypes, disappointments and career obstacles faced by the disabled and triumph over tragedy by pursuing new dreams involving motherhood, relationships, athletics and stardom.
“The indomitable spirit of this series will give viewers permission to stare at a world that they may previously have been too polite — or too frightened” – Sundance Channel
Angela Rockwood became a quadriplegic after a car accident shattered her C4–C5 vertebrae and severed her spinal cord. She is an actress, model, producer. In 2001, she married actor Dustin Nguyen on Valentine’s Day, six months before her accident.
The other disabled females on the program are Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz, Tiphany Adams, and sometimes featured Chelsie Hill.
- Auti Angel was paralyzed in a car accident in 1992. She is a singer, dancer and actress. Auti founded the hip-hop wheelchair dance group Colours ‘n’ Motion in 2003.
- Mia Schaikewitz was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 15 when a blood vessel (arteriovenous malformation) ruptured in her spinal cord. She is athletic and was a champion swimmer before her disability.
- Tiphany Adams was paralyzed in 2000 by a head-on car collision caused by a drunk driver that killed three of her friends while a senior in high school. She is an aspiring fitness model and clothing designer.
- Chelsie Hill was a passenger in a car driven by a drunk car driver who crashed the car and damaged Chelsie’s spinal cord. Before the accident, Chelsie hoped to pursue a career as a dancer. She dances with Auti and Mia in Colours ‘n’ Motion.
Note: “Push Girls'” producer, Gay Rosenthal, also worked on LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD, a show about a couple, each 4-feet tall, raising a family in Oregon, and RUBY, the story of a morbidly obese woman trying to lose hundreds of pounds.
See also: External Link – Push Girls
Arrested Development/FOX/2003-2006/NETFLIX/2013+ (Mentally Challenged)
Rita Leeds (Charlize Theron), a child-like, fun-loving English woman who became the romantic interest of Micheal Bluth (Jason Batemen), a widowed single father, who lives in Newport Beach, California. Michael is the CEO and President of the Bluth Company.
After Rita’s parents (who were cousins) passed away, Rita inherited Wee Britain, a British themed district in Orange County, California where Rita and her Uncle Trevor now live. Rita attends Slowbrooke School, an academic institution for the mentally challenged.
Michael Bluth first met Rita when he visited Wee Britain to check records at the British Better Business Bureau. When he sees Rita, he is smitten and asks her out on a date. Later, Michael visits Slowbrooke School and he thinks that Rita is a teacher.
Rita: Oh, no, not in the morning, no. I’ll be back at Slowbrooke.
Michael: Slowbrooke. The private school? Oh, you teach kids, huh?
Rita: I like to think they teach me.
Michael: Like what, how to eat crayons, throw tantrums…
Rita: Oh, no, not when I’m there. I’m very good.
Michael is impressed when Rita tells him she won a Silver Medal in the Olympics, not realizing she meant the Special Olympics. When Rita calls Michael a “pussy” he thinks Rita thinks he is a weakling, but in the British language, the term means “sweetheart.”
Eventually, Michael and Rita get engaged, that is, until Rita’s Uncle Trevor reveals that his niece was an “MR F” (Mentally Retarded Female). Apparently, her disability was masked by her British accent.
Note: Rita Leeds appeared in five episodes of Season Three, and later was seen in photographs in two additional episodes.
Max Braverman (Max Burkholder), disabled 8-year-old with Asperger syndrome who lives in Berkeley, California with his father Adam (Peter Krause), his mother Kristina (Monica Potter) who was diagnosed with cancer (and later recovers), and his two sisters, Haddie (Sarah Ramos) and Nora (Mia and Ella Allan).
Life with Autism makes life hard for Max. He has trouble communicating with others, thus finding it difficult to make friends or fit into school. Max also doesn’t like to be touched, but he loves bugs, anything about bugs.
Max’s autistic quirks include: lack of eye contact; blunt, matter-of-fact tone of voice; extremely honest and unrestrained observations (some funny, some outrageous); intolerance for the world around him and inconsistencies in his schedule; impatience with others; and lack of empathy.
When Max becomes friends with boy named Micah, who has spina bifida, they get along great and sleep over at each others houses. But their friendship ends when Max insensitively tells Micah that his wheelchair will always prevent him from playing basketball correctly.
Max later takes up photography with Hank Rizzoli (Ray Ramano), the ex-boyfriend of his Aunt Sarah. As they hang out with other, Hank realizes that, he too, has Asberger syndrome.
Eventually, with the help of his parents, Max learns to manage his disorder, (he even mounts a student council president campaign), and graduate from Chambers Academy, a charter school created especially for disabled students.
Note: In the 1989 movie “Parenthood,” on which the series is based, the character of Kevin (Jasen Fisher) had emotional problems. But there was no hint of autism or Asperger’s.
George Lopez/ABC/2002-2007 (Dyslexia)
Maximilian Victor Roberto “Max” Magic Johnson Lopez (Luis Armando Garcia), Hispanic teenager with dyslexia who lives in Los Angeles, California.
Born April 13, 1993, Max is the second-born child and only son of Mexican George Edward Lopez (George Lopez) and Cuban Angela “Angie” Palmero Lopez (Constance Marie).
His father, George, who works as a manager at an airplane parts factory (Powers Brothers Aviation) also has dyslexia, but not as severe as his son.
When George learns that his son has dyslexia he is saddened. George has been hiding his dyslexia for years but he managed to keep it a secret by manipulating people around him, like having someone else do his paperwork or read a report for him.
To help Max with his problem, Max’s school teacher suggests he get help from the school’s services. But George explodes, and says, “He’s a boy, he’ll grow out of it! You know, I appreciate your concern but this is a school and you’re a teacher. So why don’t you teach him?”
Eventually, George accepts the situation and allows Max to get a tutor to improve his grades at school. And George is encouraged to do something about his own dyslexia.
Born This Way/A&E/2015-2016+ (Down Syndrome)
Steven (Steven Clark), one of seven young adults with Down syndrome who pursue relationships, employment and strive for greater independence in Southern California.
The original cast of characters with Down Syndrome include:
- Cristina Sanzo works at a middle school and has a boyfriend of four years who she plans to marry. Her family hails from Spain, and Cristina enjoys learning the language and cooking traditional Spanish meals.
- Elena Ashmore was born in Japan to a Japanese mother, Hiromi, and an Australian father, Stephen. She is opinionated and enjoys practicing traditional Japanese Taiko drumming and cooking.
- John Tucker is pursuing a career in rap music and working on his debut album, “JT: The Project.” Besides music, John enjoys writing and dancing.
- Megan Bomgaars is a budding entrepreneur. She created a video entitled, Don’t Limit Me, and speaks around the country about inclusion and inspiration. She also attends University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and manages an ice dye clothing company called, “Megology.”
- Rachel Ostergard works in the mail room for an insurance company and is looking for the right guy to marry. Rachel is pre-diabetic.
- Sean McElwee is an avid golfer and sportsman who also loves the ladies. He dreams of having his own home but until his fortunes change, he shares a bachelor pad with a friend.
- Steven Clark works as a dishwasher in Angels Stadium in Anaheim and in customer service at a local grocery store. He loves movies and knows the title and year of every Oscar-winning film. Steven has a rare form of Down syndrome known as Mosaic Down syndrome.
Note: The reality show documentary was produced by Bunim/Murray Productions whose other credits include THE REAL WORLD, PROJECT RUNWAY and KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS.
“We are proud to be airing this important and extraordinary series and hope it will inspire meaningful conversations about people with differences…BORN THIS WAY is a show with honesty, humor and heart that celebrates and embraces diversity.” – A&E Network.
The series also showed parents talk about the joy their children bring to their family, and the challenges they face in helping them live as independently as possible.
The show first aired on A&E Network in December of 2015. In 2016, the program won an Emmy for outstanding unstructured reality program at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.
Stingray/SYN/1964-1965 (Floating Wheelchair / “Hover-chair”)
Commander Samuel “Sam” Shore (voiced by Ray Barrett), gruff disabled officer who operates the control center at Marineville, a division of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol located in California in the year 2065.
Shore was injured while working as a security agent for a deep-sea mining platform. When nefarious sorts attacked the platform, Sam rammed their submersible vehicle with his patrol craft. Subsequently, he lost the use of his legs. Shore now moves about on a hover-chair.
Commander Shore relays orders to Troy Tempest, the Captain of the Stingray, a super-submarine capable of 600 knots of speed and able to submerge to depths of over 36,000 feet.
Assisting Stone in the control room is Sub-Lieutenant John Horatio Fisher. Stone’s daughter, Lieutenant Atlanta Shore is romantically interested in Troy Tempest.
Troy’s copilot on the Stingray was Phones. They were often joined on missions by Marina, a princess of the undersea kingdom of Pacifica. Marina could breathe under water, but was unable to speak.
WASP’s nemesis is the tyrannical King Titan who rules a race of aquatic warriors known as the Aquaphibians who live in the undersea city of Titanica.
Note: Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, this children’s Supermarionation sci-fi series of 39 half-hour episodes were originally aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and then syndicated in Canada and the United States. The origin of Commander Shore’s disability was revealed on the episode “The Ghost of the Sea.”
Arrested Development/FOX/2003-2006 (Damaged Hand)
“Buster” Bluth (Tony Hale), a socially inept man with mother issues who is prone to panic attacks. Buster lost his hand when it was devoured by a seal off the coast of Southern California.
To replace his hand, he got a hook (which got stuck in a dashboard), then a puppet named Franklin Delano Bluth and finally he upgraded to a huge prosthetic hand. When Buster got his hook, he screamed, “I’m a Monster!!!”