Autism and watching Rain Man

I couldn’t help myself after watching Rain Man the other night..  I had to share how different the experience of watching it when it first came out in 1988 and I not only didn’t have a child with Autism back then…  I’d barely heard of it….  to…. jump forward to 2016, 2 kids later, one with Autism and suddenly this movie went to a whole new level of hilarious…

I remember how funny we all thought that movie was, how many times have you said the words “I’m a good driver…  I’m a very good driver”…. or one of my favourite lines from the movie… “tell em Ray”… “Kmart sux”…

Well, suddenly I watched  more closely at Tom Cruise’s character Charlie Babbitt and less at Dustin Hoffmans character Raymond…  and frankly…  some of the scenes were like looking in a mirror…

I think my favourite was when they’re driving the highway and Raymond continually goes on and on and on about getting his underwear from Kmart in Cincinnatti and Charlie is desperately trying to get through to Raymond that they aren’t going back to Kmart to get his underwear nor should it matter where they buy underwear from.rainman-in-car

Eventually Charlie becomes so exasperated he stops the car in the middle of the road, gets out,slams the door and paces backwards and forwards like a mad man going on and on about how it doesn’t matter where you get underwear from, underwear is underwear no matter where you buy it from and Raymond, oblivious to the sheer frustration being experienced by Charlie continues on about how they need to get back to Kmart so he can get his underwear…

Or the time Raymond wouldn’t go out because it was raining, when Charlie had to knock on a strangers door and beg them to let him and Raymond in to watch Jeopardy or he was going to have a major meltdown on this person’s front porch..  the hilarity of it all just goes on and on and on

How much of this can you relate to??  I can relate to almost all of it..  maybe not the exact scenarios but the persistent and repetitive behaviour, the routine, the rigidity which frustrated the living bejeesus out of me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to change it.

I know that not all Autistic children and adults are to the level of Rain Man, however, I do think many of the behaviours still stand..  When he watches the railway crossing lights so intently as they flash, when he’s half way across the road and the sign changes to don’t walk so he stops walking in the middle of the road waiting for it to change back again, or how he recites the “Who’s on First, What’s on Second” riddle from the Abbott and Costello movies over and over again when he gets anxious…  I now understand so much more about what that movie was trying to tell us.

On the other side of the coin we also see how the relationship develops, how the understanding, kindness and tenderness begins to unearth itself despite the frustrations felt.  We’ve all known and felt these frustrations and we’ve had those days where we had to stop the car and get out or go outside and scream, whatever the case one thing remains the same.  There is something utterly beautiful about the relationship I have with my son and I attribute a lot of that to his Autism…  We have an unbreakable bond, an ever accepting love for each other that is strong and almost vital to both of us.

Would I have this normally…  I really don’t know…  what I do know is we’ll always have it and for that I am truly thankful.

Until next time, stay calm and stay healthy.




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