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'The Good Doctor' Freddie Highmore Isn't Autistic — How He Makes His Performance So Believable

By Amber Garrett

Viewers of The Good Doctor could be forgiven for wondering whether actor Freddie Highmore has an autism spectrum disorder in real life. Along with having a convincing American accent, the talented British star also gives a very authentic-feeling portrayal of many of the mannerisms, vocal patterns, and behaviors of someone on the autism spectrum. He owes some of that believability to his talents, but also to an expert consultant, Dr. Melissa Reiner M.Ed, who ensured his character was not a caricature.

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Executive producer David Shore (L) and actor Freddie Highmore of 'The Good Doctor' speak onstage during the Disney/ABC Television Group portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.

Dr. Reiner is among the top consultants on autism by pediatric neurologists and developmental pediatricians on the treatment of autism-related behaviors and ways educators and caregivers can empower individuals with autism. She says of the pilot episode, "the writers were able to integrate what they had gleaned from our discussions about the work I do, and there are myriad examples of instances when characters speaking with Shaun are utilizing ... declarative communication style so that Shaun is able to more productively and adeptly respond and interact with his partners in his world. That is exceptional to me, to see the work I do brought to life in the writing, and performance for this show."