Autism in the Movies: Stereotypes and Their Effects on Neurodiverse Communities

Theodoto Wafula Ressa, Alana Goldstein


The ‘positive’ representation of autism in the film has increased considerably in the past decade. This paper examines the representation of characters with autism in three films to discern the influence on viewers’ perceptions of children with autism. Data were thematically analyzed based on the disability studies framework. Findings show that films feature common stereotypes of those with autism that are less representative of the autistic population. These stereotypes can lead viewers to develop false perceptions and beliefs about the real people with autism. The fact that popular autism success stories in contemporary media can be deceiving, there is a need for media literacy for viewers such as educators who have direct interaction with learners with disabilities.

Keywords: Autism, media, savant, disability, perception, educators


autism, media; savant; disability; perception; educators

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ISSN: 2454-6623