There are many useful things we can glean and learn from films, if we are willing to be broadminded and creative. Last night, I watched the fascinating work of fiction called ‘My Name Is Khan’ (2010).
Set in the USA, the protagonist (played by the talented Shah Rukh Khan) suffers from Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism, however he is a savant). His key message was a poignant one, and he travelled across country to deliver his two lines to the national leader. He stays true to his cause and survives by repairing broken things; he is a genius at fixing things. We are led to appreciate his character, motivations and skillfulness – beyond his physical clumsiness, reduced empathy and repetitive linguistic behaviors. The character of Jerry Espenson in the TV series ‘Boston Legal’ is an attorney who suffers from this syndrome, and has several quirks (often mistaken for actual symptoms) like ‘purring’ and shouting ‘Bingo!’ when he is nervous.
In the Korean film ‘Marathon’, an autistic youth runs the marathon in under 3 hours. Inspired by real-life autistic celebrity Bae Hyeong-Jin, this film raises the compelling issues of raising children with the mental condition. We have yet to fully fathom what causes autism, and the range of similar conditions. Those who have this condition are, generally, emotionally-withdrawn and seem to be distracted easily. There are certainly many forms and shades of this condition.
Both films explored sibling rivalry, when more attention is paid to the disadvantaged member of the family. The Hollywood-made film ‘Rain Man’ (with Dustin Hoffman & Tom Cruise) focused on sibling exploitation, whereas a lower-IQ parent fights for custody of his daughter in ‘My Name Is Sam’ (Sean Penn & Dakota Fanning). These films led me to resource from Wikipedia, and from there it linked me to other resources. I am led to conclude that this syndrome has a wide range of manifestations, and we have yet to fully understand how it works, and manage it. I can empathise deeply with parents and families of autistic children. It must be unduly tough and stressful to raise children with ‘special needs’.
One should be discerning when diligently pursuing knowledge. Knowledge applied is a powerful thing. You can seek information, support a cause, or raise funds to assist a charity. Instead of raising our eyebrows in horror, we can raise our hands in honour.
Remember to support my friend, Dex Tai for his 3 back-to-back Ironman triathlons. He is racing for his charity 'Racing for Autism'. Please help out in your own unique way.