One of the funnier lines in the first episode of “Speechless” is spoken by Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough), an employee at the school where Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver) has enrolled her children. Experiencing Maya’s fierce dressing down of the school principal over the lack of a wheelchair ramp for her child JJ’s use, Kenneth says to Maya: “I enjoy your ‘Blindside’ energy.” It’s a joke referring to the Sandra Bullock character in the film “Blindside” who, like Maya, is a very protective and outspoken mom who fights for her son. While this show is about how society perceives disability, it’s also about how it reacts to strong women. It offers a realistic and humorous take on each.

JJ, played by Micah Fowler, who has cerebral palsy in real life, is nonverbal and Maya’s determination to give him the best educational opportunities, leads her to frequently enroll him in different schools. It’s a situation her younger children Ray (Mason Cook) and Dylan (Kyla Kennedy) find stressful because they change schools with him. The latest shift moves the family to a smaller home and puts the DiMeo kids in a school that goes over the top in its efforts to welcome JJ, their first student with a disability. The teacher and students’ efforts at political correctness are good for a few laughs but it’s Yarbrough as Kenneth who takes center stage and eventually becomes JJ’s voice — literally the person who speaks his intentions, which he makes clear by using a laser pointer and a screen filled with words and letters.

Fowler is charming as JJ and his character’s sibling relationships feel genuine. There is frustration at the attention JJ receives and there is kindness and support. It’s a sweet family dynamic. John Ross Bowie, as patriarch Jimmy DiMeo, could easily get lost in Driver’s shadow but he plays the calm voice of reason in a likeable way. His character exudes a quiet strength next to Maya’s manic energy which gives the husband and wife chemistry a much needed balance.

The central premise of the show and the source of much of its humor, is that the characters must learn how to deal with Maya’s approach to shielding her son from injustice, both real and imagined. It’s a credit to Driver’s performance (and mostly funny punchlines), that Maya is likeable when she could be dismissed as annoying or maybe even delusional. In a repeated scene in the pilot episode, Maya flies past a speed trap but one of the police officers, who has experienced her reaction in the past, warns his fellow officer that a ticket isn’t worth the guaranteed hassle. Beyond the joke is a comment on how a man may sometimes perceive a woman with a strong personality. But the series leaves the viewer to ponder the deeper meanings and makes sure that Maya remains relatable by rooting her single-minded determination in love.

“Speechless” deserves credit for highlighting a depiction of family life not usually seen in primetime and it should contribute to the conversation about cerebral palsy and those whose lives are impacted by it, both teen and adult. Balancing what it’s really like to have cerebral palsy and the demands of a half-hour situation comedy is not easy but the series seems up to the challenge.

“Speechless” is on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. EDT on ABC.

— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.