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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Autism In Hanks Movie & Sutherland TV Show

The Tom Hanks movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" features a character who apparently is on the spectrum. At Autism Key, Michelle Gonzalez says that the most disturbing aspect of the film is the "blatant discrimination against children on the autism spectrum, as seen in reviews and comments posted around the web. Based on some of these online rants, it appears that many moviegoers and critics take issue with the way children with autism behave and speak."

Hollywood is coming out with another (implied) depiction of autism.  At The Los Angeles Times, T.L. Stanley writes about "Touch," a new Fox television series with Kiefer Sutherland:
The new drama, which will have a sneak preview Jan. 25 after "American Idol," centers on Sutherland's character, Martin Bohm, a former journalist and single dad to a special-needs 11-year-old boy.
The son, Jake, who's remote, combative and uncommunicative, may be autistic, but he exhibits savant-like qualities with gadgets and numbers. He can't bear to be touched, hence the series' title.
As it turns out, as revealed by an eccentric professor, played by series costar Danny Glover, Jake can detect patterns and relationships between seemingly disparate people and events. He might even be able to see the future.
It's up to Sutherland's Bohm to "follow the bread crumbs" and figure out the significance of the boy's mathematical clues, according to "Touch" creator and executive producer Tim Kring.
Kring, who also created NBC's former hit "Heroes," said he'd been thinking since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about writing a series that would blend some mystical and scientific elements. (There are several references to 9/11 in the pilot, including the reason Sutherland's character is a widower: His stockbroker wife died in the World Trade Center blast.)
The trailer (see below) raises the question of whether the series will reinforce stereotypes about savant skills.