Authentic representations or stereotyped 'outliers': using the CARS2 to assess film portrayals of Autism Spectrum Disorders
There is a growing body of literature that discusses the stereotyped representations of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in film. Existing literature questions the integrity of filmic representations, listing stereotypes in image, formulaic plots, homogeneous archetypes and unrealistic relationships as a few of the contentious issues. This paper, the first to our knowledge, utilizes an empirical assessment tool, the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS2), which is accepted and used by professionals working in the field of ASD, to analyse the character representations of ASD. Two independent raters from different professional backgrounds were able to accurately assess character portrayals from 15 films using the CARS2. Through this analysis, they were able to determine the distribution of filmic autism symptomology relative to the normal distribution of symptomology expected in the actual population with a diagnosis. The paper discusses the film-related findings, the implications and the educative potential of this exercise for practitioners.