Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Autism Gains Visibility on TV, in Movies

Premiering Wednesday night on Fox TV is “Touch,’’ a drama centered on a mute, emotionally withdrawn 10-year-old named Jake who possesses genius-level math skills. Just released, meanwhile, is the film “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,’’ whose 10-year protagonist, Oskar Schell, exhibits mildly autistic traits. It earned an Oscar nomination for best picture yesterday.
Even as the American Psychiatric Association announced last week that it may restrict its definition of autism, a wave of movies, television dramas, and best-selling books is drawing pop culture attention to the mannerisms and behavior associated with the disorder. Whether the effect will prove beneficial - or trivializing and exploitative - is a matter of some discussion.

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