April 19, 2011

Hollywood Takes on Autism

Last year the multiple award winning Temple Grandin was the latest in an increasing number of movies  that have focused on autism in the last few years. “These portrayals do bring awareness to the issue, making people more comfortable with autism, and raising sensitivity,” says Sabeeha Rehman, the President of the New York metro chapter of the National Autism Association.  Below, seven more films that portray people living with autism.


Stars: Hugh Dancy, Rose Bryne, Peter Gallagher
Released: 2009
Adam, a lonely man with Asperger's Syndrome, develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Beth.


My Name is Khan

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Sheetal Menon
Released: 2010
From the Netherlands, the story of a Muslim man, Rizwann, who has Asperger’s syndrome and is detained by authorities after 9/11 when
authorities mistake his odd behaviors for suspicious terrorist behavior.  He later is helped by a therapist and begins a journey to meet US President Obama to clear his name.

Mozart and The Whale

Stars: Josh Hartnett, Radha Mitchell
Released: 2005
A love story between two savants with Asperger's syndrome whose social disparities sabotage their budding relationship. This film is based on the story of Jerry and Mary Newport.

I Am Sam

Stars: Sean Penn, Dakota Fanning, Michele Pfeiffer
Released: 1998
The story of an autistic man living independently and functioning well in the real world until his life changes drastically when he becomes a father and is left to care for his small child.

The Other Sister

Stars: Juliette Lewis, Dianne Keaton, Giovanni Ribisi
Released: 1999
A girl with many autistic traits proves herself capable of living independently when she moves into an apartment and starts college.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

Stars: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen
Released: 1993
Gilbert Grape lives in a small town where nothing much happens. The town's most interesting resident is Gilbert's autistic brother Arnie.

Rain Man

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Released: 1988
A car dealer returns to his boyhood home soon after learning about his father's death. His father left a large sum of money to a benefactor, who he later discovers is left to his autistic brother, Raymond. Raymond was institutionalized soon after his mother's death because of the fear that he might accidentally hurt his younger brother. Raymond has many autistic features, such as perseverations, insistence on sameness, rocking, self-injury, and savant abilities. Throughout the movie, the car dealer gets to know his brother during a cross-country car trip. (Dr. Rimland was the technical advisor on this movie ).

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