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Parenthood: Put Yourself Out There

Parenthood is a one-hour drama that follows the trials and tribulations of the very large, very colorful and imperfect Braverman family. Jason Katims, the show’s Executive Producer, has been honored by Autism Speaks. Parenthood airs Tuesday night on NBC at 10/9c.

In this episode of Parenthood, Max, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, did not get invited to a classmate’s birthday party. Max is under the impression that he isn’t invited because Emily, his classmate, doesn’t like him. Kristina and Adam are upset and hurt to learn that their son is being excluded.

Kristina confronts Emily’s mom and is surprised to hear that it was a deliberate choice not to invite Max. Emily’s parents decided that because of all of her struggles, she should be able to have her birthday be a special day, just as she wants it. Kristina can’t handle the reasoning and speaks to Emily. Kristina learns that Emily thinks Max is a sore loser, when playing games.

After another run-in with Emily’s mom, Kristina pleads for a play date so that the children can work out their issues. Kristina says that she is Max’s biggest supporter and Andie agrees with those sentiments. Bother mothers realize that need to work together to support their Aspie children.

For a full synopsis of the episode and the “Experts Speak” section, visit the NBC website.

How much, is too much parental involvement? Have you ever been in Kristina’s situation? How did you handle it? What are some constructive ways you advocate for your child?


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  1. Heather
    November 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    As the mother of a 7 year old with Aspergers, I can understand Kristina feeling hurt by Max being excluded from the party. However, I can also understand the other mother’s point of view. I think Kristina went a little overboard with her “pushiness”. I think asking for a playdate to work on the issues between the kids was fine, but then she said “if it works out can he still come to the party?”. That was a little over the top. I love this show-I think the depiction of Aspergers is realistic. However, not everyone has the means for a private school and a 30 hour a week behavioral aide. I think the show should address some of the financial issues related to having a child on the spectrum (i.e. paying for private therapy).

    • Carmen Griffith
      November 23, 2010 at 8:04 am


      You wrote:
      “However, not everyone has the means for a private school and a 30 hour a week behavioral aide. I think the show should address some of the financial issues related to having a child on the spectrum (i.e. paying for private therapy).”

      I TOTALLY agree! That has been my only complaint with the show that I otherwise LOVE! My husband and I DVR the program and watch it together on Thursday nights and for some reason, our DVR cut if off with about 10 or 15 minutes left to go. I was SO EAGER to watch the playdate because our son wrestles with losing at games as well. Well, watching it (online together) – I had to giggle. It was sweet but REALLY? Yeah, I could try that! I’ll have my private behavioralist sit in the room and work on the issues with my son and his friend while I sit in the other room with the other mom and drink wine and eat sushi! Yeah – that could happen!

  2. Larelle
    November 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    i have a 10 year old daughter with aspergers. she doesnt get invited to many parties, although she has a lot of ‘friends'(she thinks of them as friends. not sure what they think). recently she was invited to a party but i have a feeling it was because she got upset when the invites were handed out and she didn’t get one. i think it was a sympathy invite. oh well she had a good time at the party and she doesn’t understand that she wasn’t meant to be invited in the first place. i only figured out the situation when i took her to the party and the mum was a little surprised to see her there.

  3. Debby
    November 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I have a 10 year-old son with Asperger’s who, like Max, is often excluded when it comes to play-date or party invitations. When he was younger, this didn’t bother him but as he has gotten older, he is more aware of being left out. I work with him to help build specific social skills (we can’t afford a 30 hour-a-week aide either!), and then plan play-dates to help exercise those skills. Doing this over the summer helped build successes and confidence – not to mention close friendships that have helped him ease back into the school year. My son is blessed with Asperger’s and we feel fortunate to be on this journey with him!

  4. Ang
    November 24, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I also agree that Kristina did go a little too far with confronting the girl’s mother. However, she did end up learning about Max’s social challenges directly from one of his peers which is hard to hear, but might end up reinforcing the need for his therapy to address winning and losing if she had not realized that before. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m not taking enough risks or putting myself out there enough on my child’s behalf to help others understand him, and him feel less misunderstood. So, there’s part of me that admires her for what she did. Of course, it may not always turn out as perfectly as it was portrayed. Not only that the other mom would actually be open to it (the playdate facilitated by my child’s behavioral therapist), but that the actual social experience went off without Max having a tough time with the possibility of him losing. That is another point made here that I also agree with. I love the show and that this child and his family’s struggles are portrayed regularly. I do also agree that things could be portrayed a little more realistically. I’m always feeling like they’ll only go so far. If they did, it would be a great way of promoting awareness not only of the challenges, but of they many gifts the child has showing people and typical peers noticing his strengths and talents,modeling what peer acceptance looks like ( not only for the peers, but for their parents as well). They have a big audience to show people what it can look like to see someone for their talents & gifts, asking questions of his parents so that they can explain Autism to their children. I’d personally like to see an episode where Max is doing so well that his private school is suggesting that he return to his home school district and show the IEP meeting. In this meeting, there are IEP team, they’d have the one’s that are open and show their commitment to thoughtful inclusion. Bu also have one or two IEP team members that don’t get autism, and don’t feel that he should be there. Show the IEP team meeting! Again by using the show to model what that could look like, what the teachers were willing to do to make sure that Max’s sensory needs are being met, and that he truly is welcome.

  5. Ashley
    November 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I enjoyed the episode and wish I could be as ballsy as Christina was. I think I do push a little but I will strive to push more since seeing this episode. I mean come on ladies, we are our childs advocate, and I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure he gets to experience all of lifes ups and downs and joys and sorrows that all the other “normal” kids get to. We talk openly about his aspergers and we also have ADHD, so lots of excitement and social challenges in our house….LOL. But we just roll with it and if we can get past him getting frustrated and losing it at school, I will be in heaven.

    Do any of your kids get frustrated when learning new things in school (math, etc.)? And if so, how have you handled it? I am fortunate to be a stay at home mom and work part time at his mainstream school, so I can be there to defuse him quickly but if I couldn’t, what can I teach the school to do?

    I love this blog, I will be back!

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