It’s Cooler to Listen to Disabled People than Pity Them, The Apprentice

It’s Season 17 of The Apprentice, and for some reason, I am still watching this show. Usually, the most irritating part of the show is Alan Sugar’s grating personality, but this week, viewers were subjected to a jarringly offensive cartoon about a disabled, wheelchair-using child.

This week in the search to find Lord Sugar’s next business partner, the task was to create a cartoon aimed at 2 to 4-year-olds.

Both teams immediately chose to pursue an “inclusion” angle. Team ‘Affinity’ created a cartoon about Yogita The Giraffe, a young giraffe who was afraid she wouldn’t fit in at school because she is too tall. So far, so bland.

Meanwhile, Team ‘Apex’ decided to create a cartoon centred on two children – Femi and Faye (a wheelchair user). An ableist disaster ensued.

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As We See It is Being Hailed as a Bastion of Autism Inclusion, but is it?

This article contains spoilers, as well as discussion of ableism/sexism in the show that some readers may find distressing.

Growing up as an undiagnosed autistic girl, there was little positive representation of people like me on television. The first piece of ‘autism media’ I consumed was probably the 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which received criticism from autistic activists for its stereotypical portrayal of Christopher Boone, a ‘savant’ with an extreme talent for mathematics.

The book led many readers to believe that mathematic genius is typical among autistics.

For me, the stereotype of the (invariably male) maths geek loomed so large that I doubted whether I could, in fact, be autistic. In my early 20s, however, I started seeing more talk about ‘female autism’ online, and I was empowered to seek my diagnosis.

Several years on, autistic representation in popular media is thankfully richer and more diverse than in the past.

Therefore, when I heard about As We See It, an Amazon Original series billed as a wholesome comedy about three autistic friends living together (two males, one female), I was optimistic. Cute premise, I thought. Why isn’t anyone talking about this?