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how film and television misrepresented neurodiversity

Check out The Takeaway on The Tomorrow War: on @Amazon Prime Video Film and TV have long failed to depict neurodiverse characters with accuracy - often framing them as the "odd one out" or as autistic savants, like in Rain Man (1988). But lately, as our society learns more about neurodiversity, we have begun to see a change. Nuanced portrayals of neurodiverse characters aim to put us in their shoes and give us a window into how they experience the world differently. Audiences have rallied behind characters such as Abed (Danny Pudi) in Community, and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Sherlock, reclaiming and celebrating them for providing authenticity to neurodiverse stories. Here’s our take on our evolving understanding of the neurodivergent character, and why film and TV have a responsibility to show us that thinking and behaving differently are not problems that need to be fixed. Support The Take: Shop our Limited Edition Merch: Support our channel and look great doing it with Take t-shirts, hoodies, and more! If you like this video, subscribe to our channel and support us by: Joining our Patreon: vote on the topic we cover next, gain early access to videos and much more! Follow The Take: Facebook: Instagram: Snap: Twitter: Website: We are The Take (formerly ScreenPrism).


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I wasn't born with an inbuilt understanding of many things neurotypical people take for granted. Film and TV have a long history of failing to portray neuro diverse characters with accuracy, nuance and respect. But in recent years as our society comes to understand a lot more about how neuro diversity manifests on the screen portrayals aren't last improving to more authentically represent and empower those in the neurodiverse community. Matilda is 17 she's a high school senior, she's musically talented, and she has autism. And just like me, I also have autism as well. Looking across a range of examples we can observe some salient patterns and how neuro diversity tends to be featured on film and TV. neuro diverse characters are frequently driven research shows that those on the autism spectrum have increased capacity for extended focus, as well as hyper focus where they zero in on an interest and lose track of everything else going on around them. decisions should take place to ribs down, and neuro diverse characters often channel that focus and drive in order to be successful and highly competitive fields. They tend to see the world differently. How do they get into our systems? How can I need to go to my mind palace, they can use their unique perspective to solve complex problems and think outside the box, which gives them an advantage over neurotypical thinking is a latitudes and longitudes appear to be robbed in order to cross the border into the US. Extraordinary. Still, film and TV sometimes over emphasize these traits to a degree which might lead audiences to falsely imagine that all neurodiverse people are autistic savant characters who lack social skills but are geniuses in one specific area.

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neuro diverse characters are often framed as the odd one out presented as the single neurodivergent and a group of neuro typicals your social skills aren't exactly streets ahead. No one I mean, I don't. On the one hand, this story structure can celebrate what makes them unique, but it can also be othering. Putting the focus on how they're no diversity impacts people around them instead of what their experiences their pain. But new ones portrayals of neuro diverse characters aim to put us in their shoes and give us a window into how they experience the world differently. I love the way that paint squishes in Matthew I'm sorry, Julia, I know you don't like the way it feels. Maybe the biggest factor in improving the portrayal of neurodiverse characters is the term neurodiversity itself, which refers to variation in the human brain regarding the way we learn, socialize, focus and do other mental functions. Judy singer and autistic sociologist coined it in the late 90s to challenge the idea that autism spectrum disorder diagnoses or disabilities, or that they need to be cured.

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neurodiversity is the concept that neurological differences among people should be recognized and respected.

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Here's our take on our evolving understanding of the neurodivergent character and why film and TV must use their power to show us how thinking and behaving differently isn't a problem that needs to be fixed. In some circumstances, it can definitely be an advantage to be neurodiverse and

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because that makes you different that makes you think differently.

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Big news our new episode of The takeaway for amazon prime video is out now. This new installment explains the ending of the tomorrow war we are fighting a war 30 years in the future Chris Pratt has to go to the future to save the present. But the key to changing our worlds future lies in the past confused yet we unpack it all What's more, the tomorrow war hide some pretty deep existential themes under it's fast paced sci fi plot. So after you watch the tomorrow war, click the link in the description below to watch our video on the amazon prime video youtube channel. Looking back at early representations of neurodivergent characters on screen can feel uncomfortable, you're born perfect and I was born like then many of these portrayals can be patronizing and represent a very narrow view of what neurodiversity is like they frequently make neurodivergent characters non verbal to the extent that they can't communicate any emotion at all, turning them into puzzles for a neurotypical character to solve on their own, or depicting them as basically unaware of their surroundings is here. Okay, we're here and we're very happy here Mr. McKay. I guess ignorance is bliss, right? In the context of their time, some of these films representations could actually be groundbreaking. Talking about 1988 Rain Man, one of the first films to send her a neurodivergent protagonist and specifically named the condition is autism alley. VO says that even suggest that Raman was a human with basic dignity was a really big deal what I said about being on the road with you I meant connecting. Online Kevin, you from my brother, but by today's standards most past iconic films about neurodiverse characters contain elements that come off as cringe worthy or offensive piggyback ride payback. And the same goes for critical conversations around the film's Roger Ebert's review of Rain Man while positive and empathetic overall opened by asking is it possible to have a relationship with an autistic person? Is it possible to have a relationship with a cat Todd McCarthy's 1994 review of Forrest Gump describes Gump as a semi imbecile and apart Dustin Hoffman might want some killed for I'm not a smart man. But I know what love is, while Ed Parton's 1980 review of being married us the ignorant descriptor of idiot savant shortchanged by the Lord and dumb as a jackass. Please look at him now. Rain man's Raymond Babbitt is the most iconic example of the prevalent a cinematic trend of overwhelmingly representing the neurodivergent character as a brilliant autistic savant.

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How much is 4343 times 1234 5359262. He's a genius, right?

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Raymond can count cards and solve complex math problems in his head, but struggles with everyday elements of numeracy and social expectation right, you know how much candy bar costs $100 before Raymond, the boy who could flies Eric also put forward this representation of autistic people as extraordinary. Instead of being mathematical Eric savant abilities are fantastical and that he can actually fly. You caught me genius, you can't fly. Yet the film still suggests that Eric's Autism is something we should look to cure as chairman, she used to teach those kind of kids and she thinks that maybe being around normal people will help him or something, autistic savant, who make up around 10% of all autistic people are overrepresented in pop culture. They're treated almost as a white equivalent to the magical minority trope and depictions that other them while suggesting they can offer mystical insights that will revolutionize other people's outlooks. It is only in the mysterious equations of love. But any logical reasons can be found. Even when they're the main character, the neurodivergent character and all these portrayals is there to help neurotypical people learn something. Raymond is there to help Charlie grow as a person? Can you cheese balls on your apple juice? notebooks pens, who's on first video, Eric uses his flying ability to help Millie realize the importance of faith, you really fly Eric.

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And chance the gardener and being there who was read as neurodivergent despite not being diagnosed within the film inspires his entire nation after his words about gardening are misinterpreted by the president as nuanced political and economic advice. As long as the roots and not seven. All is well. And all will be well. In the God we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature. But we're upset by the seasons of our academy. neurodiverse characters are often there to share their understated wisdom with the audience as well in Forrest Gump, whose protagonist is again Never diagnosed beyond being evaluated for his IQ your boys different Ms. Gump, his iq 75 for simplicity allows him to find beauty in the world that other characters can't see. And his uncomplicated perspective on life is held up as something we should learn from

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you skate in Vietnam. Sometimes it was stopped raining long enough for the stars to come out.

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That was not even at their most compassionate these portrayals can present neuro divergence and an oversimplified one dimensional way and risk making the neurodivergent character the punch line. Oh, he was very clever keeping it at a third grade level. That's what they understand. Because the focus on these stories is overwhelmingly on how the neurodiverse character impacts others when they're not being a magical helper. The film might encourage a lot of audience sympathy for the neurotypical people who have to deal with these characters needs. If you and I are going to get on this plane and we're not going to take the plane retirement in what's Eating Gilbert Grape Ani is loved by his family, but he's still presented as a burden. And his narrative purpose is to create obstacles for Gilbert's character arc. Arnie could go at any time. Some days you wanted to live There are some outliers in early representations of neurodivergent people that attempt to show them in a more complex, less tokenistic way, the 1989 documentary John's not mad following a young boy with Tourette Syndrome shows a number of different sides to Tourette's and allows him to talk about the condition for himself the feeling wouldn't you see a train stop myself, but it just feels over half the see it seems like some misfortune, as illustrated by its title, John's not mad attempted to break down the stigma around neuro divergence and promote understanding rather than pity. Contemporary depictions of neurodivergent characters can't get away with the narrow portrayals of past films, in large part because there are more actual high profile people speaking publicly about their neurodiversity than ever before. I'm actually making history not as the first person with Asperger's to host SNL, or at least the first third minute Greta tunberg has credited her rare drive and sense of purpose and climate activism to her different way of seeing things saw the world from a different perspective. So I saw what was wrong with the world, Hannah Gadsby has used her diagnosis for comedic material.

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To give you an idea of what it feels like to be on the spectrum. Basically, it feels like being the only sober person in a room full of drunks

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and Anthony Hopkins has credited his neuro divergence with helping his acting saying I definitely look at people differently and like to deconstruct to pull a character apart to work out what makes them tick, and my view will not be the same as everyone else. documentary filmmaking has led the charge in representation for neurodivergent characters on screen doing much to counter the harmful stereotypes once widely perpetuated by fiction films, when outdated trope of neurodivergent characters is that they're not interested in romantic relationships. Where but as we seek love challenges that by focusing on author David Matthews trials in the world of online dating even near hermits, such as yours truly crave personal contact. Another outmoded trope is that neurodivergent people don't have a sense of humor, something that is expertly disproven and Asperger's or us

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is true, or the first comedy troupe composed of people on the autism spectrum, so for not funny blame it on Ethan's disability.

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In fiction neurodivergent protagonists have found a home in the detective genre, thanks to the legacy of Sherlock Holmes.

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I play the violin when I'm thinking sometimes on a talk for days on and that body's potential flatmate should know the worst about each other.

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sherlocks powers of deduction and his photographic memory are both commonly thought of as autistic traits.

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his watch, time is right when the date was wrong. So two days ago, cross the dateline twice, you didn't alter it.

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Even his lack of social skills and empathy also commonly linked to autism spectrum disorders become useful to his profession as they give him the ability to focus on the task at hand to determine what it is. But while Sherlock is a beloved character, who stories arguably even glorify neurodivergent traits, he's still subtly othered painted more like a magical superhero than a fleshed out person with needs and occasionally referred to as inhuman or robotic by the neurotypical people around him. Why am I the only one who thinks that this is wrong, the only one reacting like a human being and that sense shurlock represents a bridge between older and newer understandings of neuro divergence, he's afforded more agency independence and dignity than many previous autistic or autistic coded characters but still strays into the autistic savant trope. You said

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you could identify a software designer by his tie and an airline pilot by his left them and I can read your message for free and your face and your leg and your brother's drinking habits your mobile phone

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alerts fantastical portrayal of an autistic detective can be seen in Danish series, the bridges saga norin, who's not diagnosed within the show, but in the words of actress Sophia Helen, to me, she has Asperger's no cafe camp, and on these four you have to know to the particular canavalia to provide fluid, but it's not there yet, and it's kind of a sickening hobby. Whereas sherlocks coldness sometimes manifests as comedic and his intelligence a superhuman saga is more down to earth. Don't trick us into the era market puzzolana. By hinda, lemons and voiceless hangover joke. She also disproves the assumption that autism only affects men, modern neurodivergent characters can still fall into outdated stereotypes showing that our mainstream understanding still has some ways to go. See, as music was heavily criticized for including scenes where its neurodivergent protagonist is restrained, a practice now considered to be abusive within the autism community and for using a neurotypical actor to play a nonverbal neurodivergent part. And that really speaks to a kind of patronizing view of autism. And the idea that we shouldn't be the people telling our own stories. The lead actress also imitated stimming and facial expression ones that were meant to make her look autistic much like an outdated films from decades earlier. While there's a long tradition of neurotypical actors being highly praised and winning top awards for their performances as neurodiverse people, we now understand that this practice is damaging and even some have termed it crip phase all these really meaty roles that are winning awards for autistic characters. autistic actors have never been included in that process. Claire Bennett writes that it suggests that disability is an identity that can be temporarily assumed for the purpose of entertaining people in the best scenarios it has mocking undertones in the worst, devalues disabled people's very existence, can we try not to have one of your freak outs of Pharaoh right? Even Netflix is a typical, which began in 2017 was criticized for casting a neurotypical actor to play its protagonist Sam, who's on the autism spectrum. The reason prey animals hang around in a pack is for safety. So they don't get eaten. And I was feeling like a prey animal with no pack. However, a typical listen to the criticism and in the second season did cast neurodiverse actors in the roles of Sam's support group, but it's definitely about the autism community. So I wanted as much involvement from the autism community as possible. And I loved the idea of this peer group. Kayla Cromer who stars in everything's gonna be okay recently became the first actress with autism to portray a lead character with autism on American TV, I have autism. My dad's biggest regret is vaccinating me. That's a joke. These are significant steps toward widespread authentic representation because even the most well intended neurotypical actors will never truly know what it's like to be neurodivergent

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the concept of headcanon born out of fanfiction has been adopted by the neurodivergent community to reclaim characters who present as neurodiverse even when they don't have an official diagnosis in the story. Together, they probably weren't written with autism in mind, I think it can only be a good thing to try and hijack a few characters who I really think were on the spectrum. This exercise of identifying neuro divergence where it was previously overlooked also speaks to our growing understanding that it isn't all nonverbal, challenging behavior and is instead truly a broad spectrum. Grey's Anatomy is Cristina Yang frequently gets diagnosed as neurodiverse. Baby, right. It's small features and oversized eyes trigger a hormonal response from humans, it's autonomic. It's what keeps us from eating them with neuro diverse author Holly smail citing reasons like Christina's hyperfocus. Her struggles to connect with anyone who isn't Meredith and the way she masks her true personality or puts effort into presenting as neurotypical when she's with Dr. Burke. The show briefly touches on the question but never formally diagnosis her someone's really

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smart like a genius, but they're a little different. Like they don't know how to talk to people. Are you asking me if I'm autistic,

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yet it presents her neuro diverse traits as just one part of a complex person pretty good is not enough. I want to be great. Tina Beltre, and Bob's Burgers is another character who show questions whether she may be autistic. I'm autistic Bob, just to say no, you're not autistic Tina in the neuro diverse community. Tina's frequent moans and groans have been identified as a kind of stimming a repetitive self stimulating behavior that neurodiverse people exhibit when bored, nervous or tense. Tina, I'll be right back. Just communities. arbejde has also been read as on the autism spectrum thanks to his hyper focused interest in a knowledge of TV and film Don Draper from Mad Men would you think as well as his challenges with social cues? This is a social cue. Ahmed has been embraced by so much of the neurodiverse community because his passions and style of self expression are encouraged by and shared with his friends. Can I ask you something I always want to ask a real Batman. Am I good looking? Very attractive young man. Also, while he does display extraordinary powers of recall and knowledge of pop culture, he isn't a superhuman success, so he doesn't fall into pop culture his reductive stereotype of the autistic savant and watch a movie. Sure. Alien cyborgs or zombies. Brooklyn nine nine has been credited not only for creating characters who read as neurodivergent but also making those characters people of color who often go unrepresented in discussions of neuro divergence. Hey, what's your handle, I'll be your first follower.

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It's at 5261796 D six e 6420486. f six c seven for

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Captain hold strict sense of order his flat speaking delivery and his sensory avoidance when it comes to food.

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I have zero interest in food. If it were feasible, my diet would consist entirely of a flavorless beige smoothies containing all the nutrients required by the human animal

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are all signifiers of ASD, while Amy Santiago's love of organizing and structure have also been read as neurodiverse traits. There's a magazine about organizing Yeah, I want to be featured as organizer of the month both of these characters are celebrated for their differences and respected as mentors who have a lot to teach others in their workplace. I followed you because you're great. And because you make everything you touch better. Looking back a little further 2000 ones Amelie is another character who has been embraced by the autistic community for her hyperfocus difficulty reading social cues and hypersensitivity.

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Prefer him as he can contracts.

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We can see signs of neurodiversity and Shawshank redemptions Andy do frane, who exhibits hyperfocus, with his accountancy and his meticulous plan to escape prison and struggles to connect with people. Or if he's to say I'm a hard man to know. closed book. While Andy may not find it easy to immediately bond with others in a conventional way. His different way of viewing the world radically inspires the other men in the prison and improves their lives in lasting ways as you live in, good busy living or get busy dying to kill a mockingbirds misunderstood recluse Boo Radley has recently been read as an undiagnosed neurodivergent person who is treated poorly by his community due to his difference. And a study from the Canadian medical journal theorized that in the Winnie the Pooh stories, all the inhabitants of the 100 acre would exhibit some form of neuro diversity from tickers, ADHD, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun to rabbits, narcissistic personality disorder, your detailed list of chores and duties. I've got it right here to piglets anxiety disorder. Act like I'm going to cook you for dinner. Of course not. While subject to this kind of armchair diagnosis of fictional creations. If there is a character who a lot of neurodiverse people recognize themselves in, then maybe it doesn't matter what the author's intention was. It's ironic that in trying to create distinctive and lovable characters, writers often coat them as neurodivergent without necessarily intending to

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every Saturday since we've lived in this apartment I have awakened at 615 poured myself a bowl of cereal and a quarter cup of 2% milk sat on this end of this couch turned on BBC America and watch Doctor Who

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This shows that deep down we know that differences are what makes people unique, special and interesting. On the other hand, when the writing doesn't explicitly say that different characters are neuro diverse and sets them apart mainly via their refined skills or intelligence, the narrative isn't consciously pushing us to expand our perspective on what we consider acceptable differences. The success that can come with hyper focus is already sought after in a lot of ways and it's important to also show the less romanticized aspects of neurodiversity in order to de stigmatize them. We're going to meet this bitch as she doesn't claim to show how to clean so I mean evidence all in a dish, and there's dust in my oven. Moreover, if creatives can get away with simply implying that a character may be neurodiverse, then they do not need to be held accountable for the lack of neuro diverse writers and talent hired to create and portray that character. This situation can end up perpetuating misunderstandings about neuro divergence and continuing the one dimensional representation or harmful stereotypes of the past or is a real instinctive character,

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he acts a lot on what what's directly in front of them doesn't have a lot of necessarily deep thoughts about life.

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So as empowering as it can be to reclaim neuro diverse presenting characters. It's also important not to accept headcanon representation as enough and keep pushing for intentional representation. My dams constantly blow up from Little kids teens just saying how grateful they are to be actually be saying something authentic on screen. While thoughtful neurodivergent visibility is still lacking in most mainstream media important new representations are forming your son has the same desire to be loved that we all do. Sesame Street's introduction of an autistic character Julia will allow people to understand autism from a young age what's autism? Well, for Julia, it means that she might not answer you right away. While shows like everything's going to be okay and films like keep the change are centering neurodiverse people in front of and behind the camera.

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Today, he's making history as the creator of the first ever American TV series to star an autistic actress and a lead role. And last month, Josh made headlines when he announced that he himself is autistic discovering his diagnosis after writing the show

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the documentary, The reason I jumped based on the book of the same name by Naoki higashida has also been heralded as breaking new ground in depictions of autism as it attempts to evoke the lived experience of nonverbal autistic people through immersive sound and a specific cinematic language. My mind is forever swaying this way. With more neuro diverse protagonists, and a broader range of accurate portrayals of the neuro diverse community, people's head cannons can become actual cannon and representation can grow beyond the stereotypes. I can't think of anything better than that. Our new episode of The takeaway covers the tomorrow war a thrilling movie where you can see star Chris Pratt parrot his way into a better tomorrow forgot to save the world to save her then damn sure gonna do it. director Chris McKay has said that his goal was to tell the sci fi version of It's a Wonderful Life and at the heart of this story is the question of whether or not you can fight fate. So after you watch the tomorrow war, visit the amazon prime video youtube channel and watch us deconstruct the movies monsters, themes, time travel and connections to our current precarious future. If you are worried about the pivotal moment in history, we find ourselves in the tomorrow war is going to resonate with you once you watch the movie. Click the link in the description below to check out all our key takeaways on the amazon prime video youtube channel.

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