Soon to join a growing list of television characters on the autism spectrum is Jake Bohm, an 11-year-old boy with an extreme form of autism who is also nonverbal. Portrayed by David Mazouz, Jake’s character is at the center of a new show called Touch on FOX.
Jake is the son of Keifer Sutherland’s (24) Martin Bohm, a widower and single father who struggles to connect with his son. As characteristic of many children with autism, Jake does not allow himself to be touched and exhibits very little emotion. A social worker assigned to the family tells Martin that his attempts to communicate with Jake are simply attempts at “wish fulfillment.” Just when the state is about to intervene, Martin realizes that Jake possesses a gift where he can see things no one else can—mainly the patterns that connect everything in life—and his way of communicating is with numbers. It is up to Martin to decipher the meaning of the numbers and find the people whose lives they affect.
The show’s creator, Tim Kring (Heroes), may have created Jake’s character based on his knowledge and experiences with his own son with autism. The show explores the definition of what autism is, and Kring can be expected to ensure that Touch’s fictional aspects are based in scientific fact.
Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) plays a professor on Touch who believes that Jake is proof that autism is really a heightened ability and not a disability. Sutherland tells TVLine that “The Danny Glover character is interesting . . . He believes that we have misdiagnosed a group of people that actually are at a much more advanced form of communication, but because we don’t understand it we’ve diagnosed them with what we can best understand.”
Jake joins the characters Max on Parenthood and Abed on Community as some of the more prominent representations on television of people on the spectrum. FOX will air a preview episode of Touch on January 25 right after American Idol. The series officially debuts March 19.
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