Autism on Screen- Adam

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

Today we’ll be taking a look at the representation of Asperger’s syndrome in the 2009 (although filmed in 2005) romantic drama film ‘Adam‘ starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne.

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Adam‘ focuses on the relationship between Adam, a man with AS, and Beth, his neurotypical next door neighbour, as they embark on a romantic relationship. The film charts their relationship from unorthodox origins (Adam unwittingly asks Beth if she is aroused one night when struggling to read her emotions) to (**SPOILER ALERT**) strained ending, as both parties endeavor to better understand the other.

Check out the trailer below:

So how does ‘Adam‘ rank in it’s depiction of autism?

Scientifically speaking, ‘Adam‘ presents the audience with many of the classic characteristics of AS, providing insight into the emotional, sensory and social issues which many of us deal with on a daily basis, such as Adam’s struggles with job interviews.

One of the finer details in the film that stood out for me was how Adam separates different foods on his plate so that nothing is touching. This can be seen in the screenshot below:

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I remember reading ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time‘ by Mark Haddon as a teenager and identifying with how Christopher does not like his foods to be touching as ‘Adam‘ demonstrates here.

For me, certain foods that touch contaminate flavours and textures so I often endeavor to separate them on my plate. It’s a logical thing- I’m not crazy, I swear!!! 😛 😉

Ironically, I never put two and two together about having AS myself! 😛

The film is flawed however, in that the character of Adam is a highly intelligent electronic engineer with a photographic memory, further perpetuating the rare savant stereotype…

Dear film makers/screenwriters-enough with the savant skills already! It’s been done to death! 😛

In addition to this, there is one slightly insulting moment in the film wherein Adam is not considered “dating material” in Beth’s social circle. Granted, Beth largely ignores the advice of friends and family to pursue a relationship with Adam, buuuut (* *SPOILER ALERT**) ultimately agrees that they are from two different worlds and cannot make the relationship work.

Indeed, relationships can be hard for us, but that does not mean that we are incapable of making them work (I know several neurodiverse-neurotypical romantic pairings). One of the biggest problems in the relationship between Adam and Beth is that Adam is unable to tell Beth that he loves her. Believing that Adam sees their relationship practically and not emotionally, Beth makes the decision to break up with him as a result.

As previously discussed (Discussion: Love and Romance), saying ‘I love you’ can be quite difficult for an autist, but that does not mean that love isn’t there. I may struggle to say the words to the ones I love, but love them I do.

In watching the film, it’s obvious that Adam loves Beth, he just has a different way of showing her- something that parents, friends and significant others alike should be aware of. We do love you, it’s just hard for us to show it sometimes 🙂

All in all, ‘Adam‘ is a quirky affair that balances both the positives and negatives of life on the spectrum to give a relatively (we’ll let the high IQ/memory slide this time) realistic insight into the autistic experience 🙂

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Aoife

Discussion-Black Logic

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

It had been my intention to discuss another topic today, however, after reading this article in the Irish Independent yesterday, I felt the need to postpone:

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/why-didnt-you-just-kill-me-when-i-was-born-eu-legal-campaigner-reveals-request-from-daughter-with-autism-35369028.html

In the article, EU legal campaigner Gina Miller discusses a recent interaction with her autistic daughter-Lucy Ann. Having watched her siblings grow up differently to her, Lucy-Ann grew depressed, angry and frustrated.

One day, she asked her mother “Why didn’t you just kill me when I was born?”

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Whilst this broke my heart to read, this reaction is not entirely a surprising one. This reaction is one that I know well- a logical one.

The autistic mind is highly logical. Black and white thinkers, we struggle to understand the rainbow world surrounding us. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will never understand it, but it can take time to upgrade to a technicolor lens.

In a confusing world of complex emotions and social contradictions, logic provides a safe haven. Logic is structured, formulaic and rational, guiding us through the unfathomable. When everything gets too much, it is our default setting.

Whilst it would be unusual for me to propose a viewpoint this extreme, I am no stranger to such statements.

Growing up un-diagnosed was a struggle for both me and my family. I would frequently meltdown, throw tantrums, lash out with my tongue…Without knowing the true cause for my behavior, I was regularly punished by my parents. One night when I was 6, I put on my shoes and coat and tried to run away! Luckily my mother was working in the office by the front door.

When asked why I was trying to leave, I told her that I had to go because I couldn’t be good!!

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Funny as this incident was, to me, my actions were the logical solution to my behavior!

When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm of emotion, it can be difficult to process what we are feeling. We can become so overwhelmed that the rational parts of our brain can biologically shut down.

From here,  what I like to call ‘black logic’ is born.

Overwrought and emotionally confused, we attempt to logically make sense of the situation. However, in my experience, the emotional storm clouds these attempts, tainting my logical conclusions and staining them black.

My response to the situation is logical, but a twisted logic.

Logical but equally illogical!

On another such occasion, this black logic led me to conclude that my mother did not love me as much as my younger sister as she used to tuck her in before me! I was so confused by my emotions that I failed to see the true logic in that my sisters bed was the closest to the door!

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Sometimes my emotional investment in love stories in television and film also twists my thinking, wherein I morbidly conclude that the death of a romantic rival may be the logical way to ensure the union of star crossed lovers! 😛

Black logic generally comes from a place of emotional turmoil- but there is ultimately method in the madness.

It is not my intention to be deliberately morbid, but sometimes my brain inadvertently leads me down some twisted paths! Over the years I’ve gradually learned to reign in these outbursts of black logic, but the odd one creeps through my filter. With so many thoughts travelling through my head at once, it’s bound to get clogged and let rubbish through occasionally 😉

After reading that article, I felt compelled to give you a little bit of context into how things can get processed in the autistic mind. Journalists oftentimes seek the sensational when reporting about autism, giving false impressions and promoting stereotypes.

When it comes to autism, what we really need is understanding- something which I hope that I can provide with this blog.

Growing up with autism is a challenge, yes, but it is by no means the end of the world.

To think that would be black logic indeed! 😉

Aoife

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