Parenthood: End of TV Show, But Real Parenthood Continues

For those of us who watched and loved the series of Parenthood, the final episode after six years was aired this week.  If you are a parent and haven’t tuned in to this show,  you will want to watch this show, available here.

The show depicted so many realistic issues of family life, from autism to learning disabilities, to teen pregnancy, but most of all about a family who loves and laughs together.

I am reprinting this end post from Sheila Wagner, M.Ed, who wrote about the character of Max, the child with Autism Spectrum on the show. Here is an excerpt from her comments about the final episode after six seasons.

  Max and Parenthood have educated millions of viewers by introducing us to the gifts and idiosyncrasies of people with ASD, and gave us a glimpse of how it can fit into a solid family dynamic. It’s been easy to sit back and watch a fictional family from the comforts of our home, but there are thousands of real individuals in our schools and communities who need us to get involved.

Every year, 50,000 individuals with ASD transition from high school to adulthood, challenging existing adult services. Society will no longer be able to ignore them – and shouldn’t be allowed to. These folks need the help and support of community therapists and service providers, doctors, nurses and mental health agencies. Some need supported employment, help to connect them to others socially and, if they choose, options beyond living with their families. If we have learned anything from Max and Hank, it’s that making a difference in the lives of these individuals requires dedicated people who understand ASD and who offer understanding, help and support. Colleges and universities must address the increased critical need for trained professionals who can replace old hands who leave the field or retire. Autism is not going away. There is no miracle cure out there and research has yet to find the causes.

I need to believe that those watching Parenthood will be empowered to get involved and take action on behalf of these individuals. Their experiences are replicated thousands of times in our nation. People like Max and Hank are awaiting your efforts to enjoy their company, join them in activities, teach them new skills, embrace them as a new friend, hire them in your companies, and to spread the word about this amazing world of autism.

After blogging about Max for so many seasons and really getting to appreciate him, I also have to reaffirm my deep admiration for Hank. Max is succeeding, which I would expect from the early intervention he received. Hank is just now learning about himself. Although it’s stressful for him, he never gives up. He keeps fighting and learning more and more about himself and his disorder. We should all be like Hank – never giving up.

Saying goodbye to Max, Hank, the entire Braverman family and the Parenthood series is hard.  Losing the show will be a change for all of us, but life is a series of changes. For me, I’ll be retiring from my full-time job after 30-plus years in this field, but I will never stop helping those with autism. Once involved, always involved. I hope you’ll join me.

Sheila Wagner
Emory Autism Center
Emory University, Atlanta

Information on volunteer opportunities to help those with ASD is available here.


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