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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Autistic Actors

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss depictions of ASD in popular culture.  

Jessica Blank and Wendy Lu at Huffington Post write about actor Mickey Rowe:
In 2017, he became the first autistic actor to play the role of Christopher Boone in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre and Syracuse Stage productions. Now, he is the Co-Executive Director at National Disability Theatre and is an activist, speaking and performing at various events. Recently, he was the keynote speaker at the Arts for Autism Benefit Concert, held at the Gershwin Theater in New York City.

During job interviews or other interactions, Rowe said people often treat him like a child — a common microaggression that many disabled people experience. “It’s just hard because I’m not 14 years old,” Rowe said. “I’m a dad, and I have two kids. I need to pay the bills. I need to do all the things that an adult needs to do.”

These assumptions and other forms of ableism all contribute to the major lack of accurate representation of autism in Hollywood. Many popular films and shows that feature autistic characters, including “Rain Man,” “Atypical” and “The Good Doctor,” aren’t actually played by autistic people in real life. In fact, about 95% of all disabled characters on television are played by nondisabled actors, according to the Ruderman Foundation, a nonprofit that researches and advocates for full disability inclusion.