A – Tracing Autism through Dustin Hoffman to Darsheel Safary


Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four previously distinct diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome

Children with AS will display some symptoms of autism in quite a pronounced way. They may engage in obsessive routines, odd speech patterns and other peculiar mannerisms but are less affected overall. They display an unusual sensitivity to sensory stimuli, e.g. they may cover their ears to block out sounds in the environment or they may prefer to wear clothing made only of a certain material or avoid eye contact.

AS is characterised by poorly impaired social skills. In spite of having normal to above average intelligence and language development, children are unable to communicate effectively with others and have poor coordination. They are sometimes described as active but odd, they tend to relate in a narrow way. Their activities are usually centred on their needs and peculiar interests. They have few facial expressions and have difficulty in reading the body language of others.

A puzzling feature of individuals with AS is their inability to comprehend what friendship is all about. Most are either indifferent to the idea of friendships or have no idea how to make friends

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
  • Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias

The first grand exposure of Autism in cinema was  Barry Levinson’s Oscar-winner Rain Man  in 1988. But there it did some damage, when i recently suggested a friend when i observed their child that he may be autistic, he had this vague idea of autistic children being genius with incredible memory skills, when the vast majority of them aren’t.

In the case of Bollywood mega hit My Name Is Khan (2010), Shahrukh Kahn’s title character’s Muslim faith is just as important, and as much an engine for the film’s baroque melodrama, as the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism.

Of the recent crop of features about people on the spectrum, one of the strongest is biopic Temple Grandin about  the world’s most famous person with ASC. Of the ones hovering near to reality are The Autism Puzzle made in 2003 but still very relevant, and Neurotypical

One of my most favorite and an eye opener film was Taare Zameen Par featuring Darsheel Safary as dyslexic child, Ishan Aswasthi is ridiculed at school and at home for not being able to write and read properly. He has developmental dyslexia.The discovery of Ishan’s artistic talent and the way it blooms under the care of his art teacher is the most important (and joyous) neurocognitive phenomenon in the film.In remedial training in children with dyslexia, it is important to facilitate the development of their unique artistic and other abilities to its full capacity rather than to overemphasize on the correction of the disturbed coded symbol operations. This film should be an eyeopener to parents of dyslexic children. The entire team and in particular the young artist, Darsheel, who so vividly portrays the helplessness of a disabled child, deserve our appreciation.

Drop us a comment or mail us at drpoojatripathi1902@gmail.com, We at “The Bachpan Project” will help you sail through understanding your child’s condition.

I am participating in Ato Z blogging challenge 2017.


12 Comment

  1. I have watched the taare zameen movie but there it showed only a little but about autism now I read the post I got to understand more about it.
    I like the quote don’t cure them instead understand them.

    Very nice initiative by you, keep it up
    The Bachpan project.
    You are an inspiration

    1. Dr. Pooja Tripathi says: Reply

      Love you Dixu for always admiring and encouraging me

  2. Pooja how could you for a second doubt yourself about writing on this subject . We need to have more conversations on misunderstood disorders and surrounding notions . The movies do reflect realities but they also build on perceptions but once in a while Taare Zameeen Par comes along and makes us sit and notice and empathise . All the best for the Bachpan project .. You make me proud 🙂

    1. Dr. Pooja Tripathi says: Reply

      Chandni, it’s only because of you that I took up this challenge.

  3. There are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding autism. More awareness is definitely needed and articles like this are the way to go about it, merging topics from different genres to get audiences to come to read.

    1. Dr. Pooja Tripathi says: Reply

      Exactly Roshan I am sometimes amazed at the misconceptions

  4. Thanks for a detailed post. I’m glad you are writing about this and it should reach millions. I admire you, Pooja and all the best for the Bachpan Project.
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    1. Dr. Pooja Tripathi says: Reply

      I adore you Shalini and two blogs with Ato Z is brave

  5. That is such an insightful post Pooja…I read every line twice.

    1. Dr. Pooja Tripathi says: Reply

      Thanks Deepali. Keep reading.

  6. Pooja all the best for the Bachpan Project, you are doing a great theme. I know someone who runs a school for differently-abled children and has many autistic kids – they are pretty creative.

    1. Dr. Pooja Tripathi says: Reply

      Thanks Tina. Much love to you. We will be glad to take a session at that Autistic school if you can connect me.

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