We recently tried an informal film discussion group for several weeks, which was immensely instructive and enjoyable. We watched and talked about a range of films specifically identified as “autism” films, either because a principal character is explicitly identified as autistic or because public opinion recognises at least one character as autistic. We also spent one night talking about a range of “autism” television series. (You can find many lists online, or my collection of mini-reviews here http://gallery.stuartneilson.com/index.php?album=Autism-films/Autism-feature-films).
The BBC has a fabulous collection of autism-themed programmes and series for autism acceptance month, which are available for a further 2 weeks (from the first episode date), so catch them while they are available. The young folk all know how to tune in to and record the BBC, so ask them.
The experience of sensory overload can be difficult to describe, or difficult to imagine, without having some common ground of experience to use as a base. Attention deficit (which is acute sensitivity combined with an inability to focus) means hearing, seeing and smelling what feels like everything, all at once. This short (50 seconds) video attempts to provide a shared experience of sensory exposure to discuss the feelings of sensory overload.
This is a collection of mainstream feature films about autism or featuring characters with an autism spectrum diagnosis. In some cases the audience has stated a belief that a character is autistic, even though this is not explicit in the film. A link to the Internet Movie Database and to a relevant Wikipedia article is provided for every film, and my own comments if I have seen it.
I am interested in films that portray autism in realistic ways, or at least in useful ways. Hollywood and Bollywood films play to exceptionalism and tragedy more than printed fiction, and a disabled hero overcoming tragedy has lead to several Oscar successes. As with films about other oppressed groups, it is common to use autism or an autism cocktail as a backdrop to a self-sacrificing saviour – an even surer route to Oscar success in creating a feel-good film that the oppressing majority can be comfortable with.
Fictional films and books about autism
What do people write about when they are writing about “autism”?
Autism is the disease of our age. Susan Sontag introduced “Illness as Metaphor” in 1978, identifying tuberculosis as the disease of the 19th century and cancer as the disease of her own time. HIV and AIDS are the disease of the decade afterwards. Autism is a metaphor for current global concerns – all our fears of Pollution, Viral pandemics, Political aggression, Terrorism, Internet addiction and Natural disasters are encapsulated in ‘autism’ as a metaphor.
People often write “about” autism, using it as a plot device or to add depth to a (usually another) character. Occasionally people write about autism as a lived experience. Only rarely is the lived experience portrayed in film or by actors with autism. Continue reading Autism in fictional and factual film and books