Reality TV


“For many [autistic] people, their special interest is the lens through which they view the world and communicate.”

Quote by Reid Caplan


Knitted TV pillow

Image description: A knitted pillow that looks like a TV. The TV screen has a rainbow neurodiversity infinity symbol and two stick figures on a background that has gray fuzzy lines and speckles, making it resemble television static.


Reid described watching reality TV as a way to “learn about different people's experiences or about different ways that people communicate with different kinds of language.” Reality TV provided both a predictable and centering routine, as well as a window into how people from different backgrounds navigated social situations. Reid explained: “why I engage with television and why I engage with language, the way I do is to get like this whole spectrum of different ideas. And the way I see that is the same kind of way as the neurodiversity rainbow.” 

A common thread throughout Reid’s special interests of reality TV, Japanese, and plain-language writing was communication. Special interests were also a way to communicate more broadly. Reid thinks it’s important “for neurotypical people to, like, keep that in mind that a lot of times, like, when we share our special interest, it's that is our communication. We're trying to, like, share and communicate with, even if that's in a way that neurotypical people might not understand at first. It's just as valid.”