Rain Man 30 years on – How a stereotype was born

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The film Rain Man was released 30 years ago. A big box office hit in 1988, it later won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Dustin Hoffman won Best Actor. Since then, there have been very mixed views about its impact and whether it’s been good or bad for autistic people and autism awareness.

On the one hand, it put ‘autism’ into the public debate, even if Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond Babbit’s, condition is never actually named. On the other hand, the ‘autistic savant’ became the dominant autism stereotype and the only mainstream representation for a very long time, narrowing people’s understanding and expectations. This Guardian article marks the 30th anniversary of the film’s release and sets out the background to the film and the reactions since – the comments are worth a read too.

To mark this historic moment, the National Autistic Society gave their content creators – Hannah, Savan, Sez and Connor – a chance to review the film.

It was made before any of them were born and most have never seen it before. Well, they didn’t have very mixed views!

This content comes from the National Autistic Society

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