U.S. Markets closed

How this 15-year-old actor with autism channeled his own traumatic childhood on 'The Good Doctor'

Jon San
Supervising Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

“It’s a part of me, but I want to be known as an actor first,” says 15-year-old Coby Bird. “It”, in this case, is autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Coby is telling Yahoo Entertainment about being an actor, an actor who just so happens to have autism.

Coby, who has appeared on the TV shows Speechless and The Good Doctor, explains that he was much less verbal when he was younger. “I only had three-word sentences,” he says, offering examples: “Red car, blue car. I want this, I want that. Again, again.” He’d also often wear headphones wherever he went so that unfamiliar sounds wouldn’t overwhelm him.


At school, these differences resulted in bullying from classmates. “They would always pick on me and diss me,” he says. “They would try and find these flaws I had and try to make fun of them.”

Coby was eventually homeschooled by his mom and became involved with the Miracle Project, an organization that describes itself as a “fully inclusive theatre, film, and expressive arts program for children, teens, and adults with autism and all abilities.” There he dove headlong into acting, an interest that was first piqued by the 1985 classic The Goonies (his favorite characters are Mouth and Chunk).

As he grew more at ease on the stage — and, in turn, offstage — Coby picked up an agent and started booking roles. First, a bit part in an episode of ABC’s Speechless. Then, last year, a much juicier role on The Good Doctor, the ABC show starring Freddie Highmore as the brilliant autistic doctor Shaun Murphy.

In the episode, Coby plays a patient named Liam who arrives at the hospital with a mysterious injury. Further complicating things is the fact that Liam speaks only a few words at a time and is frequently overwhelmed by unfamiliar stimuli. Sound familiar? Coby explains how he mined his own traumatic past to play an autistic character, saying, “I used everything from as a child and made that the persona of Liam.”


He continues, “Most people who don’t have autism and get roles for characters who do have autism have to look up research and everything. But I don’t have to because that’s my entire life.”

Which brings up an interesting question: Why are non-autistic actors getting parts playing people who are autistic? “I think there should be more roles for people with autism,” says Coby.

While praising Highmore’s performance and accuracy on The Good Doctor, Coby outlines the main problem with these kinds of castings. “They don’t understand [autism] because they never had it,” he says. “Even though they go through research … they never went through it.”

As for Coby, his dream role might surprise you. It isn’t something out of Shakespeare or the latest buzzy Star Wars character, he simply wants to play a non-autistic character. It would be important, he says.

“[It would show] I can go beyond the boundary,” he says. “I love playing characters with autism, because I’m sharing a message, but being a character who doesn’t [have autism] would show kids with autism they can do it too. I want to show people that we can also do this.”

And to any doubters, or casting agents for that matter, Coby is ready for his next big part — whatever that may be.

“I can do this,” he said. “Put my autism aside and see what my skills are, see what I can do.”

Watch the Oscar-winning writer of Rain Man explain why he gave away the prized statuette:

  • Why Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Stock Closed 11% Lower on Friday
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Stock Closed 11% Lower on Friday

    Analyst Pierre Ferragu from financial firm New Street Research set his price target for AMD at $18 per share, arguing that the stock has been priced for a level of success that simply isn't realistic. "AMD's stock price reflects a scenario we don't believe possible," Ferragu wrote. In particular, Ferragu sees larger rival Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) getting its manufacturing act together as we speak.

  • What happens if you win Mega Millions' $970M jackpot?
    News
    Associated Press

    What happens if you win Mega Millions' $970M jackpot?

    Despite the terrible odds — one in 302.5 million for those keeping score at home — someone will eventually match all six numbers and win the Mega Millions jackpot, which now stands at $970 million. Here are some answers for someone holding that prized lottery ticket for what would be the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. Lottery officials recommend winners take a deep breath, put their winning ticket in a safe spot and consult with a reputable financial planner before popping over to the lottery headquarters.

  • Now is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to invest in US pot companies, investor says
    Finance
    Yahoo Finance

    Now is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to invest in US pot companies, investor says

    With some Canadian pot stocks posting triple-digit return rates this year, many retail investors have looked north to pour cash into cannabis. U.S. cannabis companies are worth a lot more than their current valuations suggest since federal illegality has put undue pressure on the industry, said David Wenger, a New York attorney and senior editor of the Cannabis Law Digest.

  • Why Valero Energy, eBay, and New Age Beverages Slumped Today
    Business
    Motley Fool

    Why Valero Energy, eBay, and New Age Beverages Slumped Today

    Some major market benchmarks managed to hang onto their gains, but the Nasdaq Composite, and Russell 2000 indexes posted losses of 0.5% to 1.25%, and the S&P 500 was virtually flat. Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), and New Age Beverages (NASDAQ: NBEV) were among the worst performers on the day. Valero Energy dropped 10% after the refinery company announced that it would buy back all outstanding units of its related MLP, Valero Energy Partners (NYSE: VLP).

  • Five reasons why Boeing analysts expect solid third-quarter financial results
    Finance
    American City Business Journals

    Five reasons why Boeing analysts expect solid third-quarter financial results

    Analysts predict Boeing will report solid financial results next week thanks to better-than-expected widebody deliveries and growing airline spending on parts and maintenance. Boeing reports third-quarter earnings for the period ended Sept. 30 before financial markets open on Wednesday.

  • HES Is Expected to Top Cash Flow Growth among Upstream Players
    Finance
    Market Realist

    HES Is Expected to Top Cash Flow Growth among Upstream Players

    Hess Corporation (HES), one of the largest producers in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico, is expected to experience the highest YoY (year-over-year) cash flow growth among upstream companies in the third quarter. The partnership is expected to post cash flow from operations of $553.6 million in the third quarter compared to $88.0 million in the third quarter of 2017, representing a 529.1% YoY increase. Hess Corporation’s YoY jump is expected to be driven by strong production growth and higher average realized sales prices driven by a significant YoY rise in crude oil prices.

  • ExxonMobil vs. Chevron: Crude Prices Are Down, So Which Oil Stock Should You Buy?
    Finance
    GoBankingRates

    ExxonMobil vs. Chevron: Crude Prices Are Down, So Which Oil Stock Should You Buy?

    Slumping oil prices could hit oil companies hard.Chevron has more cash on hand to wait out reduced oil prices.ExxonMobil is the larger company and offers better value at its current price based on earnings and revenue.Oil prices have been on the decline

  • This Refining Giant Is the Latest Energy Company to Give Up on Its MLP
    Business
    Motley Fool

    This Refining Giant Is the Latest Energy Company to Give Up on Its MLP

    The energy sector continues to experience a gigantic consolidation wave, which is causing master limited partnerships (MLPs) to drop like flies. Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO) is behind the latest disappearing act in the space after it agreed to buy out its MLP Valero Energy Partners (NYSE: VLP). Valero Energy launched Valero Energy Partners in late 2013, joining its refining rivals in creating an income-producing vehicle that would steadily buy its parent's midstream assets.

  • Hillary Clinton under fire over Lewinsky comment
    Politics
    Fox Business Videos

    Hillary Clinton under fire over Lewinsky comment

    Madison Gesiotto, National Diversity Coalition for Trump, and Democratic strategist Al Mottur on how former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not an abuse of power.

  • How Analysts Are Rating Ford Stock before Q3 2018 Results
    Finance
    Market Realist

    How Analysts Are Rating Ford Stock before Q3 2018 Results

    According to the latest data compiled by Reuters, 76% of the 21 analysts covering Ford Motor Company (F) stock have given it a “hold” recommendation. As of October 18, analysts’ consensus 12-month target price for Ford is $9.96, with an upside potential of ~19% from its market price of $8.51.

  • Business
    Benzinga

    Jim Cramer Shares His Thoughts On Amarin, AT&T, McDonald's And More

    On CNBC's "Mad Money Lightning Round", Jim Cramer said Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: ARWR) is a great speculative stock. Cramer is willing to endorse AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), but he thinks Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) offers more safety

  • Cleveland-Cliffs Has Strong Q3 2018, Reinitiates Dividend
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Cleveland-Cliffs Has Strong Q3 2018, Reinitiates Dividend

    Cleveland-Cliffs (CLF) released its third-quarter earnings today before the markets opened. Its revenue came in at $741.8 million, which was 24.3% higher YoY (year-over-year), beating analysts’ estimate of $732 million according to the consensus compiled by Thomson Reuters. In its second-quarter results, it beat the consensus estimate.

  • Cramer's 5 favorite tech stocks right now, including Appl...
    MSFT
    CNBC Videos

    Cramer's 5 favorite tech stocks right now, including Appl...

    Jim Cramer reveals his top "power" players in the information technology space, including consumer tech plays, software giants and a fintech kicker.

  • Suddenly Toxic, Saudi Prince Is Shunned by Investors He Courted
    World
    Bloomberg

    Suddenly Toxic, Saudi Prince Is Shunned by Investors He Courted

    Now Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could become the biggest risk to his own project. Everything changed when Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and didn’t come out. Prince Mohammed, who’s denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, still has his defenders -– notably Donald Trump.

  • Kmart employee chokes up as he makes his final announcement before the store closes permanently
    Business
    Yahoo Lifestyle

    Kmart employee chokes up as he makes his final announcement before the store closes permanently

    Joshua Englert, manager of the closing Kmart store in McMurray, Penn., says a final farewell to customers. Some shoppers might be sad to see Kmart stores go, after the chain’s parent company, Sears Holdings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. Taking to his Facebook on Sunday evening, Englert posted a video of himself saying, “Attention, Kmart shoppers” over the store’s PA system for the very last time after working at the superstore for 18 years.

  • Here’s why you shouldn’t retire super early — even if you can
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Here’s why you shouldn’t retire super early — even if you can

    Despite the many perks of early retirement — waking up whenever you want, for example — it wasn’t the easiest decision. Earnings tend to peak around 48 for men and about 39 for women, according to an analysis by PayScale.

  • Can Freeport Turn Things Around with Its Third-Quarter Earnings?
    Finance
    Market Realist

    Can Freeport Turn Things Around with Its Third-Quarter Earnings?

    Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), the leading US-based copper miner (XME), is expected to release its third-quarter earnings on October 24. In this series, we’ll see what analysts are expecting from Freeport’s third-quarter earnings results. The year has been a lackluster one for Freeport as well as the broader metals and mining space.

  • Valero to fold logistics arm back into parent company in $950 million deal
    Finance
    American City Business Journals

    Valero to fold logistics arm back into parent company in $950 million deal

    Less than five years after it was created as a master limited partnership, San Antonio-based pipeline and storage terminal company Valero Energy Partners LP is merging back with its parent company.  Valero Energy Partners (NYSE: VLP) announced after close of market on Thursday that it is merging with Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO), its general partner Valero Energy Partners GP LLC and Forest Merger Sub LLC, a subsidiary that was incorporated in Delaware as a merge vehicle by Valero on Tuesday. Under a merger agreement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Valero will buy all outstanding shares of VLP stock at $42.25 per share in a transaction that is expected to be worth $950 million.

  • The Legal Way Canadian Marijuana Stocks Are Tricking Investors
    Business
    Motley Fool

    The Legal Way Canadian Marijuana Stocks Are Tricking Investors

    Following nine decades of prohibition, recreational marijuana is officially legal in Canada, albeit the extent of who can buy, whether the plant can be homegrown, and where product can be purchased really depends on the province. The important fact here is that legalization is expected to usher in billions of dollars of added annual revenue to the industry. This expectation of a surge in sales -- Wall Street is looking for approximately $5 billion in added annual revenue once the industry is up to speed -- is what's behind the more than two-year rally in marijuana stocks.

  • Frustrated GM investors ask what more CEO Barra can do
    Business
    Reuters

    Frustrated GM investors ask what more CEO Barra can do

    General Motors Co (GM.N) Chief Executive Mary Barra has transformed the No. 1 U.S. automaker in her almost five years in charge, but that is still not enough to satisfy investors. Ahead of third-quarter results due on Oct. 31, GM shares are trading about 6 percent below the $33 per share price at which they launched in 2010 in a post-bankruptcy initial public offering. The Detroit carmaker's stock is down 22 percent since Barra took over in January 2014.

  • This Marijuana Investment Firm's 11 Top Cannabis Picks for Explosive Growth
    Business
    Motley Fool

    This Marijuana Investment Firm's 11 Top Cannabis Picks for Explosive Growth

    The marijuana industry has become a hotbed of investment activity, and players of all sizes are looking to get into the action. On top of all the interest from ordinary investors, cannabis companies have seen demand rise from sophisticated institutional investors that have experience with deploying larger amounts of investment capital in search of high-growth opportunities. One of the most interesting marijuana investment specialists that investors can follow is Canopy Rivers (NASDAQOTH: CNPOF).

  • Business
    Motley Fool

    Why IBM’s Brief Growth Streak Just Stalled

    Unfortunately for its shareholders, there was a speed bump on the road to rebound last quarter: The company reported this week that revenue shrank, and growth in its vital "strategic imperatives" businesses slowed. Seriously, when IBM's legacy mainframe business is the strongest performer in a given quarter, one has to see that as a problem.

  • Xilinx (XLNX) to Report Q2 Earnings: What's in the Cards?
    Business
    Zacks

    Xilinx (XLNX) to Report Q2 Earnings: What's in the Cards?

    Xilinx XLNX is scheduled to report fiscal second-quarter 2019 results on Oct 24. The company beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters, delivering an average positive surprise of 5.95%. In the last reported quarter, the company reported earnings of 74 cents per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny and were much higher than the prior-year quarter’s figure of 59 cents.

  • Marijuana investors may lose 90% of their money in Canada, so consider the really big prize elsewhere
    News
    MarketWatch

    Marijuana investors may lose 90% of their money in Canada, so consider the really big prize elsewhere

    Marijuana presents a tremendous opportunity for investors over the next few years. Naïve investors are excited. The reality is that professionals will pick their pockets, and many naïve investors who are excited now will end up losing 90% of their investment.

  • News
    MarketWatch

    Cleveland-Cliffs CEO slams Goldman Sachs analyst on earnings call; 'You are a disaster'

    The chief executive of mining and resources company Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (clf) slammed a Goldman Sachs analyst on the company's earnings call earlier Friday, accusing him of failing to understand numbers. You are an embarrassment to your parents," Lourenco Goncalves said in response to a question from another analyst on the call, according to a FactSet transcript. "Matthew Korn from Goldman Sachs, you can run, but you can't hide.