Hi everyone, trying my best here to still keep up with the posting relatively often (trying for twice a month but we will see as I have a LOT of University work at the moment to get through) and a topic has recently fallen into my lap as it were.
Now, before I get into this I wanted to give some history to the situation. I was not brought up as a watcher or Dr who and was in fact introduced to the show through another thread, through the Sarah Jane Adventures. She was the product of my special interests for a long time and I remember when the world lost Elisabeth Sladen it was a hard hit for many of us. I continued to watch Doctor who for a while after this but when the main writer changed from Russell. T. Davies to Stephen Moffat I found that it wasn’t the same show I had fallen in love with, I lost interest and stopped watching about 2014, waiting for the day that a new writer would come into fruition and make Doctor who great again.
Well, all I can say as that I will be re-joining the large number of auties (probably like 30%) that are fans of the programme due to the new writer and the amazing new doctor. I have caught up on all the episodes and I plan to keep watching again from now (with even the possibility of the thirteenth doctor becoming a special interest again one day in the future). But this is not (quite) the reason why I am here ranting away. I have more to say on this than how much I like it and that’s the thing that jumped on me the very first episode.
The moment I saw a young adult learning to ride a bike I knew it, but then they said the word and I almost squeaked out loud. The word was dyspraxic. This is a word I don’t think I have ever heard on tv in a non-comedic or documentary sense. Dyspraxia isn’t a ‘cool’ disability as far as tv writers are concerned, it isn’t the type of thing that leaves a person – in most instances – seriously disabled and it doesn’t usually affect behavior, although behavior can sometimes change due to frustration or embarrassment.
But not only was this new Doctor Who companion disabled in a way that I myself am, but he was the first Doctor Who companion ever to have a disability.
Like many other people, however, I was a bit dubious at first. Was this going to last? Was this character going to be a real representation of what it is to have an invisible disability? Or was it going to be mentioned once and never again?
Well, again they came through, the disability that Ryan has which affects balance and coordination as well as executive functioning, was mentioned again in the second episode but this wasn’t the typical representation. Ryan is not just his disability, and the Doctor has also helped to show already that despite his disability Ryan has strengths in other areas. He has flaws and advantages, he is like anyone else! (louder for the ableists at the back?)
There is yet more to this though, and that comes in the personal effect it has on me. I have often said to my fellow Dr. Who fans that if I was ever a companion I would be really unhelpful as I am not good at running, have terrible coordination (Unless on a horse) and can fall over while standing stock still (its a talent, I know). To hear the Doctor tell Ryan, and through him, the whole world of disabled people, that he was worth it, that he was as good as the others and that the things he found difficult didn’t really matter so long as he tried, that was a message I took straight to the heart. To hear a fictional character who is seen by so many children and families look so… normally, at a disabled person that for me, that is a sign of equality and a sign that things are changing.
I know that now if I have to tell strangers about my dyspraxia they will possibly relate me to Ryan, meaning that there will be more awareness about the condition. In my heart though, as silly as it sounds, I know the Doctor accepts us all, she (he) loves us all (all of us odd little humans) and that we are special, just as the other humans are to her, being seen the same as someone else – like everyone else – has never felt so good.
As always, thanks for reading guys, I hope you will leave me your thoughts, feelings, and comments and I hope to speak to you all again soon, thanks everyone 🙂