Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Mass Communication and Media Arts


Torre, Paul


This was a study analyzing accuracy and stereotypes about autism representation in Rain Man, Mercury Rising, Parenthood, and Arthur. The autistic characters were viewed a minimum of five times. Their behaviors were compared with common myths about autism as presented by the Autism Research Institute. Autistic characters were labeled as dispelling or reinforcing the five myths analyzed. Production efforts to be scientifically accurate and autism representation since the release of Rain Man were also analyzed. While the media analyzed did utilize various efforts to represent autism accurately, this study found that each medium relied upon many of the Autism Research Institute’s myths as well as modern myths created by society. This was a preliminary analysis with time limitations. Future research should analyze diverse Autism Spectrum Disorders, characters and myths.