The lessons Doctor Who taught me

I am obsessed with Doctor Who, in autistic terms it’s his special interest. Rather than my mum fighting my desire to live in the Doctor’s universe she chose to dive in with me, it doesn’t hurt that the show is all shades of awesome.

Being a naturally inquisitive time traveling alien means theDoctor has fitted in quite nicely with my interest to learn more on things (thanks to my autism beds group that inspired me to learn new things and not stick to one interest like a classic autistic person.).A natural consequence of a series where the main character is constantly popping back in time is that it’s absolutely oozing with historical content.

The Doctor has travelled into the art world as well, embedding his presence into our creations and introducing us to the soul that wields the paintbrush encouraging us to emulate their talent. (Even though I find painting hard I was inspired to paint a sunflower at my Autism Beds art course after watching Vincent and the Doctor.)

At the Olympic games of course I had to rewatch Fear Her (The actor Zachary Levi from Chuck encourage to me go alone in which I had a great time).

Then there’s is a very important lesson that  I my mother helped to teach me though doctor who.These being social interaction; body language, reading faces, boundaries, personal space and self regulation lessons; Identifying personal emotions and implementing self help techniques to either lower or raise your own emotional state. Doctor Who is absolutely brilliant for this kind of stuff. Donna in particular is so loud and in your face that she has many times served as an example of both the right and the wrong way to interact with others.

“Mum why does Donna travel with the doctor when she hates him?”

“Why do you think she hates him?’

“Because she’s always angry with him, she always shouts at him.”

I was right, she does, she gets right up close to his face and shouts “Oi Space Man!” she looks with glaring eyes and stabs the air with her finger as she speaks yet there is so much affection for the Doctor in all her interactions,

Mum talked about how volume doesn’t necessarily indicate negative emotion, how often I am very loud and yet not feeling angry.

We brainstormed reasons other than anger that may cause a person to be loud. We thought about Donna and wondered if maybe she was being loud to get attention or maybe she was feeling a little intimidated by this crazy alien dude who has the power to whisk her off to new worlds or if the excitement of it all had a lot to do with her manic behaviour. I realised that my own behaviour at times may mislead other people into thinking I am angry with them.

Then there’s the long drawn out moments at the end of the Tenth Doctors life where most of the story is carried along by a roller-coaster of emotions portrayed only by subtle changes to Ten’s face.

Dr Who

I’m happy to admit the first few times Ten went through the realisation that the harbinger of four knocking doom was the beloved Wilf I simply bawled along with the rest of the gentle hearted Whovians .After we had watched that scene oh say a gazillion times I asked:

“What’s happening to his face?’

“How Do you mean Honey?”

“What’s wrong with it?”

Now the poor guy had just smashed through a glass roof after exiting a space ship in flight over the top of a building containing his arch nemesis to land, with nothing to brake his fall, onto solid ground.

“What do you mean, What’s wrong with his face, it’s a bit scratched up from the fall”

“No why is it twitching like that and why is he crying now, he doesn’t know Wilf’s stuck yet?’

“Oh that’s relief, he’s overcome by emotion because he was sure he was going to die but now he believes he’s going to live.”


“That’s happy crying isn’t it”

Mum once explained it to me by saying sometimes we feel so gloriously happy inside that our bodies don’t know what to do with the excess emotion and in the confusion of everything bubbling up inside tears spill out.

Ok so it may not be scientifically perfect and he can have a go at me in the future if I’m totally wrong but really all he needs to know now is that humans sometimes cry when they are happy and how to recognise that.

Knock, knock, knock, knock.

“Now he knows, look his eyes changed”

“Then he’s going to do proper sad crying isn’t he?”

but he doesn’t, his jaw sets, his eyes stare of into the distance and his shoulders drop.

“That’s not crying”


“That’s resignation, he knows now that he is going to die, hope is gone and he understands the worst is going to happen”

Then Wilf tried the whole I’m not worth saving spiel and Ten’s lips turn down, he swallows and his chin quivers

“There, look now he’s sad!” – I said proudly

Ten breaks into a fully fledged fist shaking rant at the universe. Again I had a stab at it.

“Mum, I know why he’s yelling, he’s really angry with Wilf because he got stuck in the glass box, isn’t he.”

Mum explained that even though he was angry he knew it wasn’t Wilf’s fault and that he was mostly angry with the circumstance. It became an interesting little back and forth about how strong anger emotions can be felt but don’t necessarily have to be directed at anyone in particular and that sometimes things go wrong and no one is to blame.

I was quite thrilled by our whole conversation. The more I see emotions and learn what they mean the better equipped I will be to navigate the world and what better teacher could he have than the Doctor with all his complexities and exquisitely performed range of emotions.

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