BIG BANG EFFECT: On the Spectrum

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — It’s spanned 12 years, 12 seasons, and 279 episodes.

The Big Bang Theory TV show is coming to an end, with the series finale Thursday night.

One character on the show fans will miss most is Sheldon Cooper.

They say he’s unique, but in a good way. And that’s why he can be a great role model for some on the spectrum.

Some say Sheldon Cooper shows characteristics of someone with Asperger syndrome.

The writers of the Big Bang Theory never directly say Sheldon has autism, but some say it’s not hard to catch on.

“We have loved the Big Bang Theory,” said Laurie Eismeier, whose son has autism. “We’ve grown up with all of those characters. We’ve watched them get married, have children. We’ve gotten married and had children, and now we have Braedon and he is more and more like Sheldon every day, and we think that his diagnosis is a part of that.”

Eismeier and her husband, Jordan, learned their four year old son, Braedon, was autistic when he was two.

Laurie believes her husband might also be on the spectrum, but he hasn’t been diagnosed.

Jordan says his boss recently compared him to Sheldon at work, while he was presenting his own data findings.

“I was presenting some things that were mathematical in ways that he had never thought of before, and he was just kind’ve blown away by it, and he said, ‘You’re a Sheldon Cooper. You know, when I tell people about you, I tell them that I have a Sheldon Cooper that works for me. And I ask, do you have a Sheldon Cooper? ‘Cause that’s you in this company,'” Jordan said.

The Eismeiers say they’ve really dissected Sheldon’s character since learning Braedon has autism. They’re very similar.

“Braedon loves to be right,” Laurie said. “Braedon loves to tell other people what to do, especially his brother and sister. He is so focused on rules, and that makes him easier and harder to parent. If we do something out of order, say at breakfast time, oh my gosh, the world has ended. But as long as we stick to the script that we’ve made for him, he thrives.”

She says that’s exactly how Sheldon is on the TV show.

“He prints off and hands out his schedule to his roommates every day so that they know when the bathroom’s going to be occupied, and when everybody eats, and what they’re going to eat every day, and I can see a lot of Braedon there too,” she said.

“The thing I picked up about Sheldon is that he was obsessive about things, and I never really, you know, identified him as autistic or anything like that, but he was obsessive about things, and I think that may be one of the characteristics of autism,” said Mike Carter, a retired special education teacher.

Carter says he’s been watching the Big Bang Theory for a few years now, and used to sometimes play the show for some of his students during their lunch break.

“They liked it just like we did,” he said.

Autistic or not, many fans feel they can relate to Sheldon. That’s why so many people love his character on the show.

“He’s very driven, and I think anybody can identify with his drive, so I think he’s a good role model,” Carter said.

“It’ll be nice for him to know that there are figures in the media he can relate to directly, and Sheldon Cooper is not the only one who exhibits autistic tendencies without ever out right saying it,” Laurie said. “We see that in a few other shows too, and it’s exciting that Braedon will have someone to look up to like that.”

Both the Eismeiers and Carter believe Sheldon’s character is great for raising awareness about autism, since the disorder impacts so many people.

“I think people if they didn’t know anything about autism, they would notice that since you’re focusing on him personally, that he’s a little different, and I think, yes, it might, if they could identify, if they knew if he was defined as he’s on the spectrum, then yes, they would see and become more knowledgeable about autism, or more sensitive to autism,” Carter said.

You can catch the series finale of the Big Bang Theory Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

You don’t want to miss it!

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