When one thinks of autism, Dustin Hoffman’s performance in Rain Man probably comes to mind. While it was a brilliant performance and he did portray many characteristics of autism, he only presented one small part of the full spectrum. Similarly, Leonardo DiCapro’s performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape gives us another glimpse into the life of an individual living a life on the spectrum.
Too many people think that being autistic means that there’s something wrong with your brain, but what it really means is your brain works differently and you don’t process data the same way. There are so many levels on the spectrum that it can be difficult to determine who is autistic and who is not.
My son is autistic. He struggles with reading, math, and has no concept of time, but he can tell you what movie a specific song comes from when it comes on the radio. He can also hear a voice or see a face in a movie and tell you what other movies they are in. Just make sure the movie doesn’t have subtitles, or he will lose interest quickly.
Being autistic doesn’t mean you stand out like a sore thumb. Some folks can go their entire lives without knowing they are even on the spectrum. Autism manifests itself differently for different people, so there is no way to boil it down to a stereotype. If you know someone on the spectrum, how do they present and what makes them special?