May 22, 2024

Autism in media

Autistic representation in the media and film especially has been vaguely inaccurate for the past thirty years. The two films that mock us and put us into a mold that isn’t true are Rain Man and the recent Music that came out this year. I have chosen these two films specifically because there was a space of time were the creators of Music could have learned about the stigma surrounding autism. As you can see below, Maddie Ziegler is portraying to be on the spectrum. This has been very damaging to the community to accept because their is a fine line between acting and being ableist.

Maddie Ziegler with a shocked expression on her face.

These directors, actors and filmmakers need to look deeper and understand that these neurodivergent disabilities do not need to be put on the screen for exploitation and clout. For those who don’t take a deeper look into what it is like to live with a disability, from an outward perspective, they may never understand what it is like to be in our shoes. 

If allistic (non autistic people) creators want to make content that is meant for a certain audience, they should have the correct actors and resources so that those who aren’t aware of the issue don’t have misinformation.

Blue puzzle piece with the words “Autism Speaks”

A popular source that most people think helps our community is Autism Speaks. While the family’s intention may be genuine, they are doing more harm than good for their child. The symbol, which is a blue puzzle piece, represents that this disorder is puzzling or that we are missing a piece in life. And the blue shows that boys and men can only be on the spectrum. This proclaims a false narrative because as is autistic traits show differently in each individual especially women. 

For example, the Netflix original series “Atypical” has had moments like when they supported Autism Speaks which, as I have stated, is an autism hate group as they are ablelist and do very little to help autistic families. With correction, the cast of Atypical has changed their ways of autistic information. 

A more inclusive way to support autistic people is to use “#RedInstead” and saying autism acceptance instead of autism awareness as people are aware of autism just not as accepting as they should be. You can look into organizations like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Autistic Women And Nonbinary Network which is inclusive for autistic women and genderqueer individuals. More information is below. 

an infinity symbol with the inside being rainbow as it says: “Listen to autistic people #REDinstead for autism acceptance”.

Autism: A developmental disorder of variable severity that is characterized by difficulty in social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior.

Neurodivergent: Differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal (frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders); not neurotypical.