When you watch TV, do you see anyone like you? For children with autism and their families, the chance of seeing a well-rounded character who is on the spectrum have long been slim, with small-screen portrayals typically focused more on stereotypes than reality. \u201cA lot of times, what we get is the most extreme portrait, like the kids who can\u2019t talk, or it\u2019s always about overcoming a disability, instead of the disability just being a part of them,\u201d says Allison Harthcock, Associate Professor of Critical Communication and Media Studies at Butler University. That\u2019s why autism advocates have consistently pushed for not simply more examples of those on the spectrum in the media, but for in depth characters who depict a variety of realities. The industry has responded, albeit slowly, by incorporating more characters into story lines where their autism diagnosis is actually confirmed or is inferred. \u201cIt\u2019s about the quality of representation and the variety of the representation,\u201d Harthcock stresses. \u201cIt\u2019s important that we show that it\u2019s not all happy and smiley, and it\u2019s important for parents to see representations of special needs parents, too.\u201d Here are a few TV shows that feature some of the better portrayals of individuals on the spectrum: \u201cParenthood\u201d\u00a0 This NBC drama, which ended last year, is heralded as one of the best researched and most realistic examples of the life of a special needs family. Over six seasons, the sprawling Braverman clan rallies around Max (played by Max Burkholder), a 9-year-old with the autism spectrum disorder Asperger\u2019s syndrome, as he navigates life at school and home. The developer of the show has a son with Asperger\u2019s and said he was committed to creating a realistic, accurate portrayal. Where to watch: DVD, Netflix, Amazon Video Other dramas with characters possibly on the spectrum:\u00a0 Detective Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), \u201cThe Bridge\u201d on FX Dr. Temperance \u201cBones\u201d Brennan (Emily Deschanel), \u201cBones\u201d on Fox \u201cCommunity\u201d Abed Nadir (played by Danny Pudi) is the emotional center of this offbeat comedy, which spent five seasons on NBC before moving to the now-defunct Yahoo! Screen for its sixth, and likely final, season last year. While Abed\u2019s diagnosis was never confirmed, creator and showrunner Dan Harmon actually discovered that he has a form of Asperger\u2019s while researching the disorder for Abed\u2019s development. The well-rounded character sometimes has difficulty interacting with others, but he does form meaningful relationships, and his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture make for some of the show\u2019s best moments. Where to watch: DVD, Hulu, Amazon Video, film adaptation in development \u201cThe Middle\u201d Recently renewed for an eighth season, this ABC sitcom set in Indiana follows the daily struggles and unintentional hilarity of the Heck family, whose youngest member, Brick (played by Atticus Shaffer), isn\u2019t specified as having autism, but struggles with social interaction and often repeats words to himself in a whisper. Brick\u2019s quirks and unusual interests are often used to highlight the universal ways in which parents and children don\u2019t understand each other, which provides plenty of laughs. Where to watch: ABC this fall, ABC.com, DVD, Hulu, Amazon Video Other sitcoms with characters possibly on the spectrum: Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), \u201cThe Big Bang Theory\u201d on CBS \u201cArthur\u201d and \u201cDaniel Tiger\u2019s Neighborhood\u201d\u00a0 These PBS Kids shows both explore the autism spectrum through beloved animated animals. On \u201cArthur,\u201d Carl, a rabbit, has Asperger\u2019s, leading to issues with social interactions and making friends. On \u201cDaniel Tiger\u2019s Neighborhood,\u201d O the Owl has sensory sensitivities and often prefers to read about things rather than experience them. The shows handle the characters\u2019 challenges as only PBS can, through education, compassion and the celebration of differences. Where to watch: PBS, PBSKids.org, Hulu, Amazon Video Hopefully, honest and varied portrayals of individuals on the spectrum will show up more and more on the small screen. As this continues, it will truly reflect back the society in which we live and provide those with autism a chance to see themselves represented on television \u2013 just like everyone else.