Film Review: “Autism in Love” (2015)

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“Autism in Love follows the story of four adults with autism spectrum disorders as they search for and manage romantic relationships.”

Director: Matt Fuller

Writer: Ira Heilveil (concept by)

 

Originally shown on PBS, this low-key yet heart-touching, even heartbreaking documentary included expressions my son has made, especially those of the young man Lenny. Most people know the word autism or have heard the term Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some have, at least, a vague definition of what that means, but usually a stereotypical view of how people with autism or Asperger’s spectrum disorders act, how they look, speak, learn and live. This has also been evident in film, such as in “Rain Man”, which stereotype is pervasive. Those with the diagnosis, of course, share some similarities, some baseline behaviors, but individuals can greatly vary as the word spectrum suggests. Not all act like “Rain Man”, and some of the most hurtful words you can say or they can hear is, “You don’t look like–“, “You don’t act like–” as if that is some kind of compliment or something they should be proud of because you said it.

In any case, what the majority of people don’t have is personal interaction or knowledge of these ones, their homes or even more so, how home life, growing up, teaching them, every day interactions go. My son was “normal”, meaning higher spectrum, but a head injury at eleven years old, a result of being bashed in the head with a locker by a bully, resulting in a hole in his skull. It changed his behavior and personality in definite ways. There was cognitive issues, loss of memory but also, and in some ways more devastating, the terrible blow to his self-confidence, self-esteem, trust of people, especially other young people, and of any school setting as staff had repeatedly dismissed or ignored his and our requests for help with and protection from harassment.

Young adults are often very cognizant of being “different”, real or perceived. They want to be “normal”, just as the subjects of the film repeatedly expressed, but as autists or Aspies, being treated like they’re dumb, weird, unworthy, or strange is too often what is normal. Because of some of the inabilities they have such as with self-expression or self-defense, they can come to live in fear of not just others, but also of life never changing: of always feeling/being useless, a perpetual flawed child, of being “stupid” or incapable. Continue reading “Film Review: “Autism in Love” (2015)”

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