TV has come a long way in depicting characters with autism, but not far enough

For too long, Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning portrayal of Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man was the only touchstone many of us had for autism.

While Hoffman's performance was met with resounding applause, a consequence of the movie's success was that it created an autism trope that the movie and TV industries were loath to shake.

So many films – The Accountant, Mercury Rising, Mozart the Whale, Little Man Tate, Silent Fall among them – have served up characters who were withdrawn, but had savant-like powers.

Like Rain Man, they perpetuated common stereotypes: autistic people struggle with eye contact and communication, lack empathy and can't read social cues.

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30th November -0001
Sydney Morning Herald