Suggestions for portraying autism in a short film

Hello, I'm currently in the early stages of producing a short drama film. One character who is on the sprectrum. He has been written with the assumption in mine that he is hight functioning, but lacks in verbal skills. Im writing this post for a few suggestion on the portrayal of this character and some advice on how to accurately display autism on screen. Any feedback or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. 


Aaron a young man on the autism spectrum is trapped inside his apartment lift, with a stranger who is terrified of small spaces. Both are frightened of the situation. However, both cope in there own unique ways with the predicament. Despite Aarons social awkwardness, he tries to handle the situation as best as he can but his efforts result in a panic attack. With only the aid of a stranger who doesn’t understand his condition.

I myself am on the spectrum. I have Aspergers syndrome and have written the script with my own behaviours in mind. If anyone wants to read the script, I don't mind sharing. Once again I appreciate any suggestions here. 

Many thanks in advance. 


  • You may want to take a look at this article. It discusses 33 Recommended Films and Shows with Autism to Watch this Holiday Season.

    You can see how the others have portrayed autism and you can get some ideas finding the answer.

  • If you could, contact your local Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training provider (MIND/MHFA Wales or MHFA England) as the two day MHFA course covers everything albeit a little light on Autism/Aspergers/ADHD/PDD-NOA I have found.

    I see each person as a computer based system with the inputs (senses), system (mind including Short Term/Liong term memory and way of functioning) and outputs (what you identify).  With a new programme (coping strategies based on knowledge/experience of things and the person) then that is how the perceptions of the situation can change.

    Perhaps in the script you could, in your own mind, specify what senses Aaron has (remember it is a spectrum and not everyone has the same smell, taste, touch, hearing and visible markers and extreme impacts on them). For example I have seen people wearing ear defenders/headphones in shopping centres to reduce their stressors.

  • Out of curiosity, if you are on the spectrum and  have personal insight, why do you write a character that is not like you, you create a fictional character with no verbal skills while you have no experience of this. Why not a character more like yourself, or like some other real autistic person. Maybe you should seek advice from someone non verbal. I am HF and I have no idea at all what it could be like to be non verbal. Are you even sure that being non verbal is compatible in one person with functioning more like yourself? I don't know the purpose of your film, have you lived any tricky experiences, 1:1 ith a NT here you autism as  a key feature of the dynamic, what did you learn about yourself, about NT. Maybe you can draw on such personal experience to tell a story that only an autistic person can tell..

  • Just create.a.character you want, for whatever situation you want, behaving in any way you want, thinking the things you want and leave it to the audience to decide.

    No mention of being autistic, just other peoples observations and reactions.  And that would be a realistic portrayal of how I am.

    Or just have a group of Mr Spock, Mr Data, Dr Sheldon Cooper, Sherlock Holmes, Dr Who, Doc Martin, etc discussing life, the universe and everything. And getting the answer 42

  • Or just have a group of Mr Spock, Mr Data, Dr Sheldon Cooper,, Sherlock Holmes, Dr Who, Doc Martin, etc discussing life, the universe and everything. And getting the answer 42

    That is the point. Film portrayals do nothing but perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes.

    Now autistic people want to perpetuate NT stereotypes about them, what's new?

    Would be refreshing putting in film something from the autistic perspective, based on double empathy problem. Putting double empathy problem in the spotlight.