In 2001 Film Director Ron Howard released “A Beautiful Mind” to the public, and I was one of the first to attend. After all, actor Russell Crowe portrayed the great Nobel Peace Prize winner John Nash, and I knew I was in for a great film.
By the time the second scene rolled out I was painfully frozen as the character (portrayed to perfection) John Nash was so strikingly similar to my son Sam, in both action and peer reaction.
The tears began to flow.
Remember the punch bowl scene? That was the first time I had witnessed, on screen, a perfect description of my son’s behavior, along with how he was received among his peers. Finally I had found a way to describe to family and friends what Aspergers looked like. The kind of looks Sam would get when he spoke…exactly like the punch bowl scene in the movie!
For me, this was a breakthrough in describing Aspergers! A group of doctors at an Autism clinic in San Antonio told me that right after the release of “A Beautiful Mind” they too discussed the characteristics of John Nash as typical Aspergers, but noted how the film primarily highlighted the struggles of schizophrenia as opposed to the characteristics of Autism.
Fast forward 13 years from the film’s release, and now my son Sam is attending college. He invited me (that in itself is a rare gift!) to a campus showing of “A Beautiful Mind” for mental health awareness day. Though the attendance was just a handful, the growth and distance from those early confusing years made this event a personal stand-out.
Although there have been some movies and numerous TV shows highlighting characters with Aspergers Syndrome, I still look to “A Beautiful Mind” (minus the schizophrenia) as a reference for those trying to understand Aspergers. I know the uniqueness of my son’s thoughts and actions is indeed a result of a beautiful, specially-wired mind.
By Jennifer Allen
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