I am always seeing posts that say “Yes my son has Autism, No he is not like Rainman” and i’ve always been tentative about this. I agree Jamie could not go to Vegas and count cards – which was the first thing my brother asked me when I said she was Autistic. She hasn’t memorised the phone book and no we can’t drop tooth picks and ask her how many are there.
She hasn’t memorised the phone book because A. we don’t have a phone book and B. she has a much bigger choice of books than Raymond Babbitt did. Ask her anything about The Hunger Games however, and she will tell you in an instance. Along with Harry Potter she has read the Hunger Games Trilogy countless times and know them all inside out.
Raymond has autism and adheres to STRICT ROUTINES like always watching jeopardy, going to bed at 11pm, maple syrup needs to be on the table before the pancakes and he likes to eat with a toothpick rather than a knife and fork. He has SUPERB RECALL but he shows little EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION except when in distress. Sound familiar?
In the film Rain Man, Raymond struggles with literal things. For example when crossing the road and the sign says Walk he does, but when it changes to Don’t Walk he stops in the middle of the street.
He repeats phases for example “Bam the future of rock n roll”, this is called Echolalia, how many of our children do this with adverts etc?
Raymond doesn’t like to be TOUCHED, he doesn’t like LOUD NOISES and he often puts his HANDS OVER HIS EARS or HITS HIMSELF in the head when frustrated.
Raymond will only buy his underwear from K Mart and will only wear a certain type. I know in our house Jamie will only wear seam free underwear from Primark!
Raymond has Savant Sydrome, the most dramatic examples of savant syndrome occur in individuals who score very low on IQ tests, while demonstrating exceptional skills or brilliance in specific areas, such as rapid calculation, art, memory, or musical ability. How many of you can relate to this?
My personal opinion of the film Rain Man is that it is a brilliant film, I think it is well written and really does show what Autism is. So next time someone asks me if my child is like Rain Man, I will actually consider saying YES.
Counting cards, memorising the phone book and counting toothpicks are all very minor details in the film. The remainder of the film shows Autism at it’s best and worst and I think if you look at Rain Man from a different angle you may see that actually this is the life you are living daily.