Some of the greatest and brightest British drama characters are autistic according to the National Autistic Society.
These characters, namely Sherlock Holmes played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Saga Noern (the Bridge) played by Sofia Noren, Derek, played by Ricky Gervais in the show of the same name, Roy Cropper in Coronation Street and Maurice Moss in The IT Crowd; may not have been diagnosed but are clearly on the spectrum, the NAS claim.
BBC’s Sherlock has the ability to decipher information by focussing on clues and thinking outside the box, breaking things down logically but also seeing patterns that other people can’t. The NAS claim that all the characters have tell-tale signs, such as an inability to understand others emotions, stubbornness and singular passion and focus in their desired goals.
Cumberbatches Sherlock also sees patterns in impossible numbers, and a logic in puzzles that leave the rest of us absolutely stumped. But soed this relate to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s depiction of “the real” Sherlock Holmes.
Doyle’s Sherlock was also methodical, often resorting into his music to solve problems that others had difficulty finding the clues to. It is the first time that anyone has looked closer at the characters in classics, since transposed into drama for our larger screens. He was also socially withdrawn, but through choice than awkwardness.
Robyn Steward, an autism consultant and trainer and ambassador for the NAS, said:
“Sherlock really focuses on one thing, for example in the latest series there is an episode where his brother comes over to New York and they are supposed to be going for dinner but Sherlock says we can’t, we are working on this case – it is an unnecessary distraction.
“He also has this ability to concentrate and he memorises and links things in quite a unique way, all these things could be linked to being on the autistic spectrum.”
Carol Povey, director of the centre for autism at the NAS, said more needs to be done to represent people who have autism across the spectrum, as it affects one in 100 people in the UK and one in 80 in the United States.
“It is really good for society to show that we are accepting difference, we are not all striving to be one type of person, actually society is made up of a wonderfully wide variety of people and it is fantastic to see that in the characters.”
But because autism affects so many lives, to truly represent society more people with the condition, on all ranges of the spectrum, should be represented on screen, she said. The more we can see people on the autism spectrum not only getting by but actually contributing to society in a really positive way the better.”