SOAPnet Takes on Autism Storyline in the Original Primetime series, General Hospital: Night Shift

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Antonio Sabato, Jr.’s character Jagger faces new challenges when son Stone is diagnosed with the disorder


Antonio Sabato, Jr. (Jagger, General Hospital Night Shift)Taking a page from Days of our Lives storyline playbook, SOAPNet's original primetime series, General Hospital: Night Shift, will feature a story surrounding Autism this season.

Autism, a developmental disorder that now affects one in every 150 children, will unexpectedly and profoundly change the life of Jagger Cates (Antonio Sabato, Jr.) and his family in an ongoing storyline.  The national organization Autism Speaks serves as a consultant to the show and worked with producers and writers to develop a true-to-life storyline. The SOAPnet primetime series, which is the network’s most-watched of all time, follows the lives of doctors, nurses and patients as they embark on journeys of self discovery, love and heartache. The show airs TUESDAYS at 11:00 p.m., ET/PT on SOAPnet.

In storyline, single father Jagger confronts the reality that his five-year-old son has autism. Together they begin a journey that will provide “General Hospital: Night Shift” viewers a sense of how families are affected by the disorder. On last night’s episode Stone was diagnosed with autism, and in the September 2nd episode, Jagger – who struggles to cope with the diagnosis as he watches his son begin therapy – will attend a parents’ support group that was cast with actors whose real-life children have autism.

“Autism has become part of the national dialogue, and with so many families either directly or indirectly affected by this disorder, we believe this storyline will truly resonate with ‘Night Shift’ viewers,” said Executive Producer Lisa De Cazotte. “We are pleased to be working with Autism Speaks to ensure that the experiences and information we convey are factually accurate and truly reflective of the experiences and emotions real families are dealing with every day.”

“’Night Shift’ viewers will see a very realistic portrayal of the emotional trauma families face when their child is diagnosed with autism, but they will also see how a sense of hope and determination eventually brings those families closer,” said Alison Singer, Executive Vice President of Communications and Awareness for Autism Speaks. “We applaud ‘Night Shift’ for tackling this issue and helping to foster greater understanding and compassion for families affected by autism.”

Sabato originally created and played the role of Jagger Cates on ABC’s top rated daytime drama, General Hospital. After leaving the show in 1995, he continued work in a variety of different projects for film and television, including Bold and the Beautiful, Melrose Place, Charmed and Becker, and recently won the successful summer series Celebrity Circus.

General Hospital: Night Shift is the successful primetime spin-off of ABC’s top daytime drama which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary and has won a record 10 Emmys for Outstanding Daytime Drama.

This is the second time this summer that Autism Speaks has teamed with a soap opera to spread awareness about autism to the masses. Back in June, Days of our Lives launched a storyline involving Abe Carver (James Reynolds), his wife Lexie (Renee Jones) and their three-year old son who was likewise diagnosed with Autism.  The difference between the Days storyline and the General Hospital: Night Shift storyline is that Dena Higley, head writer for Days of our Lives, has an autistic child in real life.  The Days storyline is based on her experiences as his mother.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation’s three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit