I am a tv series junkie, and my (legit and valid) justification for watching too much telly is to survive this world, this society, that rate a person primarily based on social performance and adequacy.
Citing Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (observational learning), we learn through environment through the process of observation. For most of the people (at least true for me) on the Autism Spectrum, we observe people at a very young age. We watch people, and we try to make sense of the invisible interactions between people; of course, we often end up just mimicking the popular girl/boy’s behaviours since it makes perfect sense that their behaviours must be most accepted, hence the popularity amongst people.
It’s easier to learn the latest jokes and new lingo through watching television, because I can stare, or look stupid as much as I like, at conversations that I have absolutely no clue of, and not being corrected, reprimanded, or judged. It turns out, everyone mimics, so it’s easier for me to understand the real people’s lingo because they mimicked from the popular characters on the tv shows.
I used to watch shows that didn’t help me with my poor social skills. The only Mandarin shows I watched were based on ancient civilisations or pugilistic films; not in modern context. I also enjoyed shows and movies with historical background such as old Roman’s times, Edwardian and Victorian civilisations and even Shakespeare-ish plays and theatrical films. Of course, I started to talk weird(er). I love the politeness of the royals, I don’t find them hypocritical, instead, I find them more rule-defined, easier.
I find myself searching for movies that paint the pictures of people on the spectrum, or at least heavily flavoured with the Aspie ingredients. There is a good reason to the sudden obsession (and of course, we are always loyal to our obsessions, aren’t we?), but I’ll talk about that on a separate post – The Unprepared Dip After the Diagnosis Euphoria.
Adam, a lonely man with Asperger’s Syndrome, develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Beth.
Soon after moving in, Beth, a brainy, beautiful writer damaged from a past relationship encounters Adam, the handsome, but odd, fellow in the downstairs apartment whose awkwardness is perplexing. Beth and Adam’s ultimate connection leads to a tricky relationship that exemplifies something universal: truly reaching another person means bravely stretching into uncomfortable territory and the resulting shake-up can be liberating.
Full-Blown Aspie Traits
I am only half way through Adam, but I have already identified many traits that I exhibited (more prominently) as a child. The thing about such movies is that, the highlight of the traits is usually illustrated in full-blown context. The filmmaker or scriptwriter usually tries to fit in as many severe autistic traits as possible to illuminate the disability. It’s neither right nor wrong, it’s like casting a wide net into the sea, it catches most of the audiences – people on the spectrum can resonate with at least a few of the traits; it helps the Neuro-typicals see better of the crippling behavioural dysfunction of an autistic person (sorry to say this, but not many NTs have eyes for details, let alone ability to discern the subtleness of social handicap).
I am not saying that Adam is not real or has been exaggerated, but it’s not that common for one Aspie to have all the traits. One determinant factor is that if an autistic child had been diagnosed at a young age and not been provided with an integrative program to help him/her grow – by that, I am not suggesting forceful conditioning – he/she can grow to become Adam. I am only diagnosed when I reached adulthood, I learn through the hard way – and didn’t die of constant rejections – to camouflage my autistic traits; and being a female, it is easier to cry even in public and being shown some sympathy hence the slightest comfort to hang on to. I have learnt to behave as normally as I could possibly manage; so do many of the Aspie adults.
The Pure Heart
That said, I am moved by the fact that the movie showed an important quality of Adam. He is very sincere and genuine.
“I can see that you are upset, but I don’t know what to do.” – Adam
I had not met anyone like myself, until now. He said, ‘Did I do something wrong? I can see that you are sad, but I don’t know what to do.’. It is the most sincerest response I have ever gotten from anyone. It is okay to tell others that we don’t know what to do, because we simply don’t know what to do.
As a teenager, my best friend was always mad at me. It’s simple logic for me to ask when I didn’t know why she was upset. When I asked, she got madder; when I didn’t ask, she got madder too. Either way, I was an idiot.
Wolf Children is a staggeringly beautiful animated feature film from director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars). This epic cinematic achievement follows Hana, a woman who falls in love with a Wolf Man and gives birth to two half human, half wolf children. After the tragic death of her beloved, Hana seeks refuge in rural town where she attempts to build a life for herself and her children.
Because It’s You
The beginning of the animation movie, it showed a simple love between two people. The fear of the wolf to reveal his true self to the girl whom he cares about; the bravery of the girl who is unafraid ‘because it’s you’. The trust is illustrated in primal form – unwavering.
The Society Outcasts The Different
The heart-wrenching part is where the single mother is confronted with external pressure and being accused of being an unfit mother to her children. To protect her children who are different, she brings them to a far far away secluded countryside where she hopes her children will get some level of freedom.
Gender Difference in Asperger’s
This is not typically an Aspie movie, but it is. The difference between the wolf boy and wolf girl can be compared to Aspie boy and Aspie girl. The boy embraces the wolf (aspieness) in him and chooses the nature where he belongs and to get away from everyone else, including his mother; the girl, a more social being, desperately wants to blend in and be part of the (ab)normal world.
Here we can see, the same wants to be different; the different wants to be same. Irony.
The Wolf Girl
The wolf girl suffers a meltdown when her wolf identify was exposed due to stress. She has tried to so hard to be good, to tame the wolf in her, and be the little girl she promised her mother to be. I teared when she cried and apologised to her mother that she has tried so hard; it is hard to see that sometimes, the more difficult part is not the part of trying hard, but to convince people that I have indeed tried my best, yet in their eyes, it’s still not enough. I was the wolf girl, still am.
Little Man Tate Trailer – Dede Tate (Jodie Foster) discovers her young son is a genius. As a mother, she faces the challenge of giving him a normal childhood while attempting to provide him with the intellectual stimulation he requires.
The Little Professor
Many of us, the high functioning lot on the spectrum, we would’ve been ‘accused’ of being the ‘know it all’ at some point. We are addicted to learning and knowledge. Internet is probably the best thing that happened to us. It opens the gateway to endless learning!
When I don’t know something, I ask; the hard lesson learnt is that people don’t always like to be asked, they doubt your motives and become paranoid. So, I found another best friend – google. He is very generous, a little cranky sometimes by throwing me bunches of irrelevant replies (I suspect that he is an Aspie too!), but most of the time, he is a loyal and non-judgemental pal! So, I read up on things, a lot. Sometimes, I get overly excited with my findings, and can be too eager to share, even to unwilling audiences.
This movie portrays a child prodigy, Tate. I am not remotely close to being gifted, talented, or smart. I know now (had a hard time believing) that I am probably not stupid, because I learn very quickly (although very rigidly principled), quicker than my peers, and I sometimes (many times) get impatient when people have to explain in length the ‘introductory’ part when they could just start from the middle. That made me look like an arrogant brat, so I have learnt to allow people to take their time because other people need that introductory explanation.
Unashamed of Intelligence
Being different is difficult. I got along better with people (much) younger or (much) older than my age. However, such friendships can posses some challenges because of the different priorities in different life phases.
Being an intellect is more often labeled as a bore. It is made worse when most Aspies talk knowledge rather than gelling conversations with meaningful and relevant input. For example, when the girlfriends are planning for a birthday party, they are talking about the colours of ribbon, and perhaps even touched on topic that white ribbon seemed inauspicious as it is often associated with death. I may contribute by (over)sharing everything I know about ribbon; it may also include research that debunk the superstition about white ribbon. By the time I (even) realised that I may have offended the girlfriends, no damage control is powerful enough to retract what I had said. Yet, despite losing too many friends over the years, I fail to learn how to socialize effectively, so at some point, I give up trying and isolate myself from the social scenes. It’s hard to be in the wrong all the time.
It’s hard to have to judge myself critically and question my intelligence that has nothing to do with the social intelligence. I was convinced that I was stupid and retarded because I was socially awkward; I am convinced now that I am quite intelligent on its own, but I just score poorly in social intelligence.
There is nothing to be ashamed of being intelligent. I have met only a few people whom I considered as highly intelligent, and two of them have Asperger’s Syndrome. If every highly intelligent aspie is supported with a personal PR representative, this world would have benefited more greatly from the contributions from my fellow Aspie friends. They don’t have to spend time worrying about how to present themselves to the world, but concentrate in making the world a better place to live in.
Another of my favourite Asperger Movies is Mozart and Whales. I watch it from time to time.
Enjoy the movies!