Are There Any Positive Examples Of Autistic People In Media?

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lucgn01
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03 Apr 2021, 3:12 pm

As both an autistic person and an aspiring fiction writer, I'd love to see more positive autistic representation in media, and maybe even make some myself. I've started reading "The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time", and it's fairly interesting, but I'm aware of how divisive it is among autistic people. I'd appreciate people commenting examples of what they believe to be good autistic representation in books, film, tv shows, or games.



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03 Apr 2021, 4:35 pm

My personal favorite is Newt Scamander from the Fantastic Beasts films.

Additionally, my bride and I just recently finished watching the two seasons of the 2013-14 American TV series The Bridge. The Sonya Cross character is supposed to be an Aspie and they had a good consultant :wink: to help them get it right--my bride and I both recognized some of her traits. I liked that even though the NTs found her to be a bit awkward, overall she was rather good at her job.

Perhaps one that might be a less popular choice on WP is Adam Raki from Adam. His Aspieness seemed more of a problem for him than the above two examples but, still, he was apparently independent, employed, and good at his jobs.


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10 Apr 2021, 9:37 pm

It's probably relevant but both characters (Newt Scamander and Sonya Cross) are not revealed to viewers as autistic. Newt's character isn't intended to be autistic. I think some fans of the Big Bang theory make the same mistake with Sheldon Cooper.

You only discover that Sonya's character was mean't to be autistic if you read the film directors interview but honestly only fans of the series would bother checking this fact.

In the movie "The Accountant" ben Affleck's character was openly autistic as was the main character in "The Good Doctor". They are both positive from the perspective they are both capable and have skills, although Ben Affleck's character isn't necessarily likeable.



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11 Apr 2021, 11:11 am

cyberdad wrote:
It's probably relevant but both characters (Newt Scamander and Sonya Cross) are not revealed to viewers as autistic. Newt's character isn't intended to be autistic.
Very true, but...it's not simple...

J.K. Rowling probably did not intend for "Newt Scamander" to be on the Spectrum but Eddie Redmayne did. The movies would be unlikely to address it either way because (1) this seems to have been a decision by the actor, not the writers, and (2) the time-frame of the movie was before there was an official Spectrum to be on.

"Sonya Cross" was deliberately and carefully intended to be on the Spectrum--or, more specifically, to have Asperger's Syndrome. But this is only barely, indirectly alluded to in the show.

Personally, I like that Newt Scamander and Sonya Cross were both so discretely on the Spectrum--different without dwelling on why. That is sort of what I would like for me! I'm mildly Autistic (per DSM-5, otherwise Asperger's Syndrome) and I prefer that it not define me, just make me more interesting. I got my diagnosis when I was 64 so I figure I've only officially "had" Autism for 2% of my life; for 38% of my life I wasn't diagnosed and for 60% of my life no diagnosis was yet available and I was just quirky. ("Quirky" is not the only word sometimes used.)

The Big Bang Theory has deliberately not made "Sheldon Cooper" or "Amy Farrah Fowler" anything specific. They're just strange (and fun to watch). My impression is that, in part, the writers didn't want to be too specific because then they would get nitpicked every time they got something wrong. (I am not, however, persuaded by Sheldon's frequent statement that "I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested!" I think in the show's chronology he was probably tested before DSM-IV added the Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis.)

I can easily understand why some other folk would prefer successful characters that are explicitly on the Spectrum. It is quite fair to prefer acclimating the Public to the concepts openly, rather than subliminally.


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carlos55
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11 Apr 2021, 2:54 pm

Is there many truly diagnosed non fictional autistic people in the media?

Temple Grandin is the only one that comes to mind, it seems like Hollywood is only interested in creating fictional autistic characters with superpowers.



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11 Apr 2021, 4:27 pm

Double Retired wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
It's probably relevant but both characters (Newt Scamander and Sonya Cross) are not revealed to viewers as autistic. Newt's character isn't intended to be autistic.
Very true, but...it's not simple...

J.K. Rowling probably did not intend for "Newt Scamander" to be on the Spectrum but Eddie Redmayne did. The movies would be unlikely to address it either way because (1) this seems to have been a decision by the actor, not the writers, and (2) the time-frame of the movie was before there was an official Spectrum to be on.

"Sonya Cross" was deliberately and carefully intended to be on the Spectrum--or, more specifically, to have Asperger's Syndrome. But this is only barely, indirectly alluded to in the show.

Personally, I like that Newt Scamander and Sonya Cross were both so discretely on the Spectrum--different without dwelling on why. That is sort of what I would like for me! I'm mildly Autistic (per DSM-5, otherwise Asperger's Syndrome) and I prefer that it not define me, just make me more interesting. I got my diagnosis when I was 64 so I figure I've only officially "had" Autism for 2% of my life; for 38% of my life I wasn't diagnosed and for 60% of my life no diagnosis was yet available and I was just quirky. ("Quirky" is not the only word sometimes used.)

The Big Bang Theory has deliberately not made "Sheldon Cooper" or "Amy Farrah Fowler" anything specific. They're just strange (and fun to watch). My impression is that, in part, the writers didn't want to be too specific because then they would get nitpicked every time they got something wrong. (I am not, however, persuaded by Sheldon's frequent statement that "I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested!" I think in the show's chronology he was probably tested before DSM-IV added the Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis.)

I can easily understand why some other folk would prefer successful characters that are explicitly on the Spectrum. It is quite fair to prefer acclimating the Public to the concepts openly, rather than subliminally.


Yep, I agree with your take.

I was giving my interpretation as a rep from the general public watching the Bridge and Fantastic Beasts without looking deeper into the movie (like perhaps a fan might).

An interesting thing about the Bridge is there were three versions so I am not sure which Sonia Cross you are referring to? The original Korean, the Danish (Saga Noren) and of course the American version (Diane Kruger).



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11 Apr 2021, 4:58 pm

Gary Numan has Asperger Syndrome

Chris Packham from the Really Wild Show and Spring watch

Alan Turing the guy who solved Hitlers Enigma code

I would have also been one of the people in the media spotlight (and kind of have been for quiet a few years, but infamously known to be "in the shadows"), had the UK's ex-PMs Gordon Brown had not used me as his scape goat after i had saved his career / life with my innovative life career coaching. but never mind.



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11 Apr 2021, 5:22 pm

I liked Abed Nadir from Community (TV show). He was my favourite out of the show. I especially liked the scene where the Dean expects him to be a superpowered detective and he indirectly calls him out on his assumptions.


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Last edited by Lost_dragon on 11 Apr 2021, 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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11 Apr 2021, 5:23 pm

cyberdad wrote:
An interesting thing about the Bridge is there were three versions so I am not sure which Sonia Cross you are referring to? The original Korean, the Danish (Saga Noren) and of course the American version (Diane Kruger).
Sorry! I should've been clearer on that--I was referring to the the Sonya Cross in the American series, mentioned in my earlier post on this thread.

By cheating and looking on Wikipedia I see that, at a minimum, there was:

 - Danish/Swedish Bron/Broen [2011-2018]
 - US/Mexico The Bridge [2013-2014]
 - UK/France The Tunnel [2013-2018]
 - Estonian/Russian The Bridge [2018- ]
 - Malaysia/Singapore The Bridge [2018- ]
 - Germany/Austria Pagan Peak [2018- ]

And you say there is also a Korean one, too?! Wow!

My bride, with some difficulty, was able to get us a Region 1 copy of the US/Mexico series, which has ties to Wrong Planet. :D (Weill, maybe not a "tie", but rather a "connection".)


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12 Apr 2021, 3:32 am

Double Retired wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
An interesting thing about the Bridge is there were three versions so I am not sure which Sonia Cross you are referring to? The original Korean, the Danish (Saga Noren) and of course the American version (Diane Kruger).
Sorry! I should've been clearer on that--I was referring to the the Sonya Cross in the American series, mentioned in my earlier post on this thread.

By cheating and looking on Wikipedia I see that, at a minimum, there was:

 - Danish/Swedish Bron/Broen [2011-2018]
 - US/Mexico The Bridge [2013-2014]
 - UK/France The Tunnel [2013-2018]
 - Estonian/Russian The Bridge [2018- ]
 - Malaysia/Singapore The Bridge [2018- ]
 - Germany/Austria Pagan Peak [2018- ]

And you say there is also a Korean one, too?! Wow!

My bride, with some difficulty, was able to get us a Region 1 copy of the US/Mexico series, which has ties to Wrong Planet. :D (Weill, maybe not a "tie", but rather a "connection".)


Wow! yes the Korean version was the original



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12 Apr 2021, 8:36 am

cyberdad wrote:
Wow! yes the Korean version was the original
OK. I'm an Aspie. I'd like to plug this hole in my current store of trivia. Can you provide a name or Internet reference for the Korean version? (Though I'll admit it is only my "current" store of trivia; in a few years it is likely to decay.)

It dawned on me this morning that Korea seems an unlikely place for the story to work. There's that DMZ and tanks and trigger-happy guards with machine guns and nuclear threats and... It would be interesting to know the concept for the story occurring in Korea.


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12 Apr 2021, 5:04 pm

Double Retired wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
Wow! yes the Korean version was the original
OK. I'm an Aspie. I'd like to plug this hole in my current store of trivia. Can you provide a name or Internet reference for the Korean version? (Though I'll admit it is only my "current" store of trivia; in a few years it is likely to decay.)

It dawned on me this morning that Korea seems an unlikely place for the story to work. There's that DMZ and tanks and trigger-happy guards with machine guns and nuclear threats and... It would be interesting to know the concept for the story occurring in Korea.


It's weird, I can'r find it, one of the problems is google doesn't allow me to search using Korean script so I might have to be creative to unearth it.



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22 Apr 2021, 5:00 pm

I have been the most impressed with the real stories of autistic people, rather than the fictionalized accounts. I think an individual's real life and experiences are more compelling and interesting, and will help others more than some Hollywood-embellished show that tries to capture what autism is supposed to be.

I'm like anyone else, but I just couldn't always read social situations. But to look at me and talk to me, you'd never know I'm autistic. So I have seen nothing in the media that accurately reflects who and what I am.



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22 Apr 2021, 9:27 pm

DesertWoman wrote:
So I have seen nothing in the media that accurately reflects who and what I am.


Good point. I also have seen nothing in the media that reflects who I am and I'm NT :lol:



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23 Apr 2021, 9:18 am

If you've met one Autistic you've met one Autistic. I guess the same applies to Allistics.

Speaking solely for me...I'd like there to be successful characters in the media who are on the Spectrum like me but where it is downplayed or not even mentioned that the character is on the Spectrum. I certainly would not object to there also being successful characters explicitly identified as being on the Spectrum.

I'd prefer people think "He reminds me of _____" rather than "He's probably mentally ill like ____"

I'd like my quirks to be accepted as uncommon but still OK.


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23 Apr 2021, 9:44 am

Is this only about actors?
I think singer Gary Numan is a very positive example, and he's very open about being autistic.


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