Autism In Love: A Great Doc Fitting For Autism Awareness Month

An Informational Documentary on Autism

April 2nd was the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day, as organizations around the globe raised much-needed funds for research and therapy as well as and brought more awareness of the condition to the world. The entire month of April celebrates the 50th Autism Awareness Month, according to As such, I was pleasantly surprised recently to discover a sweet and yet informative documentary, whose goal is to help their audience understand autism from the point of view of those who are diagnosed with it.

Autism In Love is an original PBS documentary that sheds light on the challenges of trying to find love with a misunderstood disorder. Director Matt Fuller takes us into the world of four individuals who live with the spectrum disorder, exploring their challenges and hopes of having a lasting love life. The documentary provides a range with regards to the disorder, helping viewers understand some of the variations. Autism In Love dispels the myth that higher functioning adults with autism have an easier time. We are introduced to couple Dave and Lindsey, both higher functioning working professionals. Out of the two, one wouldn’t know that Lindsey was autistic other than very subtle facial expressions now and then. But, this is precisely what made her life so difficult. Prior to being diagnosed, Lindsey confessed the challenges she had in forging and keeping friendships and her low self-esteem as a result.

It is hard enough making friends these days let alone trying to find love. But a real challenge is to also have a disorder that makes you different than others to the point that people misunderstand almost everything about you and lack the empathy to try and learn. Take the son of a single mother in Los Angeles. Lenny is aware of his autism and struggles to come to terms with it. All he wants to do is find love and have a normal life, though his autism continues to get in his way, if only in his own head and his expectations. Meanwhile, love is possible even for Stephen, whose autism is more prevalent than the others featured in the documentary. We find that Stephen has a job and a wife (Gita), who is not autistic but is suffering from a terminal illness. She also admits that her own learning disability has helped her find more in common with him. Stephen and Gita were married for 20 years, making love work with mutual understanding, until her death. Stephen matter of factly informs the camera that Gita is gone now, but behind the deadpan delivery and stare that are the most visible form of his condition his eyes flash the pain he feels inside, if only for a brief moment.

Their relationship reminds me a lot of the book The Rosie Project, about an intelligent man on a quest to find a wife, but all the while doesn’t know he is autistic and ends up falling in love with someone who “gets” him. Although Don Tillman (the character in the book) is higher functioning than Stephen, their romantic relationships plus the way they both interact with others, and the way they process things are very similar.

Autism In Love is an informative documentary that will hopefully help all who watch acquire empathy where they might not have otherwise. Autism is more than just a disability, but a complex disorder of brain development.

Autism In Love uncovers the challenges of having a spectrum disorder and yet leaves the audience with a warm feeling of hope.

About Sonyo Estavillo

I am a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development (scripted and non-scripted). My talents are diverse and include: producing, directing, production management, videography, social media/viral marketing, research, non-linear editing, story development, and content writing. *Masters in Television, Radio, & Film @ Newhouse, Syracuse University *Bachelors in Film Production @ CSULB

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