Whether you are trying to be aware of others’ experiences or simply seeking ways to improve your own understanding as regards Autism and what it entails, Movies featuring explicitly autistic characters or characters that are coded as such can serve as powerful tools for learning and personal growth. Although it seems most films tend to focus on Gifted characters with Asperger’s syndrome or other high-functioning forms of Autism, such as “Big  Bang Theory” or “Rain Man”, it’s good to understand that this is not always the case in real life and that there is a whole spectrum of individuals with varying levels of functioning.

Some may be highly independent and capable of leading a “normal” life, while others may require more support and assistance in their day-to-day activities, as depicted in “What Eats Gilbert Grapes” by actor Dicaprio. Hence, it is important to seek out films that showcase the diversity within the Autism community and do not solely rely on stereotypes or infantilizing portrayals. Below, we have provided a selection of films that feature autistic characters. Still, it is important to note that we at Nevada Autism do not endorse them as accurate representations of autism. Rather, these films can serve as launching points for discussions.


What’s eating Gilbert Grapes

It’s among the Movies that best depicts Lower end Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and how it affects a family. The film revolves around the story of two brothers, Gilbert and Arnie. Gilbert is the middle child but also the breadwinner of the family. Arnie, on the other hand, has severe ASD, and his condition greatly affects his speech and communication abilities. The movie highlights the struggles that the family faces in taking care of someone with a profound disability like Arnie’s while also showcasing how it impacts their relationships with each other and their community.

Fly Away

It’s about family struggle related to an autistic daughter, portrayed by the talented Ashley Rickards. The parents are no longer together and the mother, played by Beth Broderick, is struggling to handle the difficulties of being a single parent to a child with ASD. The movie takes a refreshing approach by avoiding stereotypes. The park serves as a source of change, and Jeanne and Mandy visit it every day with their dog. It not only provides physical activity and social interactions for Mandy but also serves as an educational model for Jeanne to learn how to handle her daughter’s condition.

The Bridge

What makes this show unique, compared to other shows with a main character who has ASD, is that the condition is not sensationalized or made the central focus of the plot. Instead, it is subtlely shown through the character’s behavior and actions, shaping their interactions with others and how they approach solving cases. This show portrays a character who happens to have ASD, rather than reducing them to a collection of stereotypical traits and behaviors associated with the disorder.

Mozart & The Whale

The movie “Mozart & The Whale” delves into the lives of Jerry and Mary Newport, as portrayed in a book, and their journey of falling in love while navigating the challenges posed by Asperger’s syndrome in their relationship. This film serves as a genuine tribute to the true nature of Asperger’s, with its performances being both convincing and precise.

Ben X

Ben X is a cinematic adaptation of a real-life account, delving into the harrowing experiences of an adolescent with Autism who endures relentless bullying, & isolation. The film follows his journey toward being diagnosed during his teenage years and how he maneuvers daily activities. Its portrayal of the sensory sensitivities faced by Autistic individuals is detailed, as well as the bullying that plagues many children with this condition. This poignant and powerful film is not suitable for younger viewers and may be emotionally taxing to watch.

These are just a few selections that will improve your own understanding of Autism and what it entails. They can also serve as launching points for discussions. Besides films, organizations such as Nevada Autism are dedicated to advocating for individuals with autism and their families.

On top of raising awareness, we at Nevada Autism Center strive to provide quality services, including ABA therapy and other programs, to help individuals reach their full potential. Get in touch with us.

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