General Question

OpryLeigh's avatar

Can you recommend any movies or books where a main character has autism or something similar?

Asked by OpryLeigh (25260points) February 12th, 2010

Two of my favourite movies of all time are Rain Man and I Am Sam, can you recommend anything similar?

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31 Answers

ucme's avatar

Mozart & the Whale.

netgrrl's avatar

Look for the book Thinking in Pictures, which is a biography of Temple Grandin, an autistic slaughterhouse architect who searches for ways to treat animals more humanely (which also saves the businesses money, interestingly.)

rangerr's avatar

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape for a movie.
The Horse Boy for a book.

hannahsugs's avatar

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is a great book, narrated by an autistic 15 year old.

scotsbloke's avatar

Mercury Rising (1998) with Bruce Willis who’s a cop – has to look after the autaistic wee boy. Good movie too.

partyparty's avatar

Rain Man (1988). The part is played by Dustin Hoffman. Really good film.

partyparty's avatar

Oops sorry, I have just seen that you have cited Rain Man already.

MissAusten's avatar

I second “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” Great book.

There’s also a book called “Al Capone Does My Shirts,” which is about a family living on Alcatraz island. The father works at the prison. The son is the main character, and his older sister has autism. At that time period, the word “autism” wasn’t used yet. The book is geared toward middle-school kids, but it’s a good read. The same author also wrote “Al Capone Shines My Shoes,” but I haven’t read that one.

emissary's avatar

There is an HBO original movie about to come on soon called “Temple Grandin.” It is about a real, autistic, Texas woman who achieved greatness via her talents. It may have already aired, but HBO usually repeats stuff all the time. Type her name and HBO in a google search and you should be able to find airdates for it.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@hannahsugs and @MissAusten I read Curious incident…. a few years ago and absolutely loved it!

njnyjobs's avatar

The Temple Grandin story is an HBO movie that’s showing thru the middle of March. Check out details and schedule here:

Also on HBO, there is a documentary showing on Feb. 13: Autism: the Musical . . .

laureth's avatar

The Speed of Dark is a book about an autistic guy who has to choose between getting a treatment that will make him no longer autistic or staying as he is. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

scotsbloke's avatar

Good grief – just re-read my entry – spelling is awful. oh well, it must be everyone else’s fault except mine!! lol

food's avatar

I think there´s a movie called the house of cards or something of the sort. The book “About Dibs” is very good—the child isn´t autistic, but they think he is(that is very interesting).... so it´s good for defining what it is and isn´t. It´s a story about play therapy and how he grows to be a well-adapted teenager.

food's avatar

a couple of other movies that I found interesting and hard to forget were some about psychopath children… it was shocking to think that kids who haven´t developed their sense of morality by age seven are very hard to change… I can´t find the names of the movies, but one of them was about twin children. The boy was a pyromaniac. Another movie was about a psychopath girl who was about five years old and killed a bird.
I liked having seen them because it reminds you that the first developmental years are critical.

SundayKittens's avatar

I’m with @hannahsugs. Read it last year after owning it forever. Not too bad! And didn’t Temple Grandin write a book? Non-fiction probably…

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@kikibirdjones—Dr. Grandin has written many books. She is an expert on animal handling and slaughterhouse design. Many of her books are on the topic of autism.

food's avatar

What does slaughterhouse design have to do with autism?(!) is that some technical term I never heard about? It sounds terrible though. Not to mention animal handling (!!!) :O

food's avatar

Well I googled the name and her website says that she´s autistic. I guess I´ll keep reading to understand.

njnyjobs's avatar

Found this:

Autism Research Institute—Spring 2007

This list contains only movies which were released in the cinemas, and all have been subsequently released on videocassette and/or DVD. There have been numerous made-for-television movies as well as television shows with an autistic character, but there are too many of these to list.

Most of the actors/actresses in the movies do a reasonable job of portraying a person with autistic traits. However, the majority do not provide an accurate description of the underlying cause of autism and may, in fact, either label a person as autistic who, given the circumstances presented, may not be, or fail to recognize the disorder and confuse it with another neurodevelopmental disorder.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@food That’s Temple Grandins professional field. Her PhD is in Animal Husbandry or something like that. She lectures on the field of autism based on her personal experiences. Some of her books are in her professional field, others are on autism.

thriftymaid's avatar

The Rain Man

LunaChick's avatar

@ucme beat me to it, but I would highly recommend Mozart and the Whale. Click here to read a review written by a mother whose children have Autism/Asperger’s syndrome.

DeanV's avatar

Would Flowers For Algernon be along that vein?

jfos's avatar

The Matrix.

Buttonstc's avatar


Temple Grandin has explained in interviews the connection between her Autism and her success in her work designing humane slaughterhouses.

Most of us are used to a much more verbal approach to thinking and to life in general. She describes herself as the opposite. Hence the title of one of her books “Thinking in Pictures”.

Because this is the way that animals think, she is able to empathize with how they see things. So, she can go through a facility and point out aspects of design which would frighten or panic the cows.

Don’t forget, she lives in Arizona and out in the West, there is generally a different attitude about the concepts of animals being raised for food (and obviously necessitating slaughter).

She basically wants to give the animals as peaceful a death as possible so eliminating design flaws (from the animals’ point of view) is helping toward that end.

Hers is definitely an interesting point of view and because she is so intelligent, she is a really good “translator” between Autistics and the rest of the world.

shadowofdeath's avatar

the last oracle by james rollins is a great read and it has some autistic savants in it

MissAusten's avatar

@shadowofdeath That is a good read! I like all of his books, mainly for the section at the end where he describes what is “real” from the book and what isn’t. Good suggestion!

OpryLeigh's avatar

@dverhey Yes, Flowers for Algernon is the type of thing I am looking for. I have read that and loved it.

candide's avatar

Why has no one mentioned Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men?

shadowofdeath's avatar

@MissAusten OMG. i know his books are amazing, i have learned some things i would never know from his Fact and Fiction section. being a person that doesnt really like thrillers or mysteries, he has impressed me time and time again.

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