Saturday, May 28, 2011

Not Relationship Material?

People familiar with autism and Asperger Syndrome -- as well as those who aren't -- may enjoy a movie I watched recently.

The title character of Adam is a young man who lives alone in New York, and works as an electronic engineer.

A pretty young teacher-writer named Beth moves into Adam’s apartment building and begins to build a friendship with him -- at least, she wants to. Sometimes it seems he wants to be her friend, too. Most of the time, his actions make no sense.

When Adam tells her he has Asperger Syndrome, she tries to convince herself he’s “not relationship material”. Instead, when she researches AS, she understands a little better how she can relate to him.

And, as you’ve already guessed, Adam and Beth fall in love.

I enjoyed Adam’s sweet, surprising storyline.

Hugh Dancy does a convincing job of playing a man with AS – minimal eye contact, social awkwardness, a rigid adherence to rules and routines, and difficulty picking up social cues.

Beth, played by Rose Byrne, responds to Adam with compassion, along with a genuine desire for him to love her in return. Her gently persistent love for him is a comforting reminder that people who have AS can be deeply treasured by others, and can give care, encouragement and love in return.

I was encouraged by the movie’s messages that people who have AS can overcome social and emotional challenges, form mutually meaningful relationships, and make valued contributions through their work.

Adam will lovingly introduce many people to the challenges of living with Asperger Syndrome, although, unfortunately, some will then be falsely-confident they know everything there is to know about it.

I must also say that, as one expects from Hollywood, this movie doesn't support all of my relational values.

Nevertheless, Adam is worthwhile, heart-warming entertainment for anyone who applauds people who overcome every kind of challenge.

1 comment: