Autistic Women on Screen

Movie Night

It’s only natural to want to see yourself and your life reflected back from the world around you. It’s part of human nature and allows us to see ourselves as a vital and active part of society in general.

Much has been discussed — and, thankfully, continues to be discussed like this and this — about why #RepresentationMatters. For the autistic community, reflections in the media are hard to come by.

This is likely in large part due to the fact that the general awareness of our existence in society as non-children is in its infancy. Our multitudes are hidden — sometimes it’s the self-preservation of masking in order to avoid patronizing or potentially hostile responses and sometimes it’s because we are wholly unaware that our own neurology can be classified as “autistic”.

But until autistic characters are routinely portrayed *and identified as such* in film, television, theatre, fiction, memoir, graphic novels, video games, and in all the other ways we entertain and inform ourselves, not only will our larger society’s misinformed attitudes and behaviours remain unevolved but #ActuallyAutistic adults will continue to struggle through the entirety of our lives blaming themselves for unacceptable behaviour, being shamed for “failing”, and never knowing our true selves.

To date, media representation of autistic people is spotty at best. And yes, it’s worse for autistic women. If you guessed that representation is next to zero for autistic women of colour then you get a star. Non-binary and trans folks again are entirely not represented (as far as I can see).

For good or bad, here are some of the popularly available ways to see your community on screen. All synopses are from IMDB.

Bones

Series. 2005-2017.

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan and cocky F.B.I. Special Agent Seeley Booth build a team to investigate murders. Quite often, there isn’t more to examine than rotten flesh or mere bones.

Bron/Broen (The Bridge)

Series. 2011-2018.

When a body is found on the bridge between Denmark and Sweden, right on the border, Danish inspector Martin Rohde and Swedish Saga Norén have to share jurisdiction and work together to find the killer.

Chocolate

Film. 2008.

An autistic girl with powerful martial art skills looks to settle her ailing mother’s debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money.

For Izzy

Film. 2018.

The lives of a recovering addict and her single mother change forever when they move in next door to a widowed father and his adult daughter with autism.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Film (Swedish). 2009.
Film (American). 2011.

A journalist is aided by a young female hacker in his search for the killer of a woman who has been dead for forty years.

The Good Wife

Series. 2009-2016

Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm. (Look for lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni.)

Jane Wants a Boyfriend

Film. 2015.

A young woman with Asperger’s tries to find her first boyfriend with a little help from her older sister.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries 

Series. 2012-

Season 2, Episode 8: The Blood of Juana the Mad. The death of Dr Mac’s university colleague pulls Phryne and Jack from their estrangement to untangle a murder that involves a brilliant but rightfully paranoid female student.

Molly

Film. 1999.

A bachelor becomes the unwilling guardian of his autistic, intellectually disabled sister; then an experimental treatment works a dramatic change in her brain and his attitude.

From The #AutlIfe Shop

Goodies Under $20

Mozart and the Whale

Film. 2005.

A love story between two savants with Asperger’s Syndrome, whose conditions sabotage their budding relationship.

Mr. Mercedes

Series. 2017-

Tells the story of a psychopathic killer who drives a stolen Mercedes into a crowd and a recently retired detective who tries to bring him down. (Look for the character of Holly Gibney.)

Normal People Scare Me

Documentary. 2006.

Based on the 10 minute award-winning short film of the same title, Normal People Scare Me is a feature-length documentary sharing first-person accounts of life and living with autism.

Please Stand By

Film. 2017.

A young autistic woman runs away from her caregiver in an attempt to submit her manuscript to a “Star Trek” writing competition.

GOODIES for every stim!

Sesame Street

Series. 1969-

Episode “Meet Julia”. 2017. On a special inner city street, the inhabitants, human and muppet, teach preschool subjects with comedy, cartoons, games, and songs. (Julia is a four-year-old girl muppet who is autistic.)

Snow Cake

Film. 2006.

A drama focused on the friendship between a high-functioning autistic woman and a man who is traumatized after a fatal car accident.

Temple Grandin

Film. 2010.

A biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry.

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