The ABC Network show “Speechless”premiered 2016 and is currently on its 3rd season. As someone with CerebralPalsy I was SUPER excited that there was finally going to be a mainstream showthat I could relate to. Even though J.J. in the show has CP that affects himdifferently, there are several moments in every episode that I could empathizewith. When J. J’s getting ready to graduate and head off to university, I foundmyself identifying with the need for independence but also the fear of leaving homeand having to advocate for myself.
It wasn’t just the main character that spoke to me. Mya, the mother in the show who is played by Minnie Driver, reminds me of my mom. My mom went with guns blazing into my local school because they didn’t have automatic doors. Mya DiMeo advocates for her son in the same way that most mothers of children with disabilities do. Another thing that “Speechless” brings to the table is the viewpoint of the other members of the family. I think the show does a great job showing what life can be like for siblings of those with a disability. We get to see them struggle for attention at times and see the love and strong bond that a disability brings to the dynamic of the family.
Not only does the show present real-lifesituations from home life, we get to see J.J. struggle in social situations,fitting in with friends and even try to navigate the world of dating. Thingslike looking for a job, high school parties, peer pressure and following ourlife passions are things that every teenager faces whether they have disabilitiesor not. It is so nice for people to see that even though the main character hasC.P. he still deals with these life problems. At times I find some people areamazed that I deal with normal issues or that I can handle them just as well asanyone else.
“Speechless” must be one of the most real and honest series I have seen. I am proud of ABC for making a show that shows people with disabilities in such a positive light. So often we are used to seeing those with disabilities as an object of pity and this show is flipping the script. The show should also be praised for casting people who actually have disabilities rather than choosing to cast a typical person to “act” the part of someone with Cerebral Palsy. I hope that this show continues to break down barriers and stereotypes for seasons to come!