My name is Melissa Reiner, and I am the Autism Consultant on ABC’s show, The Good Doctor. I work with the writers and producers to help ensure that the role of Dr. Shaun Murphy, as well as all of the other characters who may interact with him, is portrayed with a level of authenticity and specificity. Having a diagnosis of autism is one aspect of who this individual is, but it is imperative that we are also able to fully reveal who this impressive young man is, as a doctor and as a person first. The notes that I contribute often shape the way a scene is written, and in some instances, the way a scene is rewritten. The integrity of the show is paramount, and I am honoured to be involved in such an important show. Here are a few examples of how my input affected change in certain scenes from each episode in Season 2 of The Good Doctor.
In the first episode of Season 2 of The Good Doctor, there is a scene in which Dr. Shaun Murphy decides to visit Dr. Glassman in the hospital while he’s waiting for his test results. In the original draft, the writers had Shaun go visit Dr. Glassman merely because Jared told him that it was the right thing to do. In my notes on the script, I let the writers know that I didn’t feel like their friendship and the social-emotional pull therein was enough to bring Shaun away from his work. I wrote that if there was, perhaps, a practical solution and something concrete in place for Shaun that would make it so he could be with Dr. Glassman without betraying his desire to stay within his world of medicine, then that would make more sense than Shaun simply agreeing to sitting with his friend to offer support. Later, Shaun then reveals, “But then I realized that I could be here with you and also read my book.” In the end, it was this book, rather than an emphasis on their interpersonal relationship, that anchored Shaun, affording him the opportunity to sit with Glassman.