Friday, September 28, 2012

The movie about a black man with Aspergers

Recently, I found out about a movie depicting a black man with Aspergers. I was very interested in finding this movie, so I could see just how authentic it was. Of course, it’s another love story; “If You Could Say it In Words.”  Well, minutes into the movie [viewed on] I thought to myself, if this guy has Aspergers, it must be the mildest form that will possibly go undetected by those of us who actually live with stereotypical Aspies. This guy was thoughtful, bringing his date (a.k.a. one-night-stand) coffee and pastries in bed, he was appropriately affectionate, and surprisingly perceptive. Plus, he was very sexually active. I was shocked. The only quirks that I picked up on was the male Aspies obvious shyness in social settings, his extended knowledge of certain topics, formal language, and aversion to loud music; and, toward the end of the movie the character had a mental break and began to self injure. The female protagonist seemed to really be the one with “issues”. After skipping through the first forty minutes, I was still trying to figure out when the real Asperger was going to come out. The female lead character, a white woman who was having an affair with her married boss, seemed too absorbed in her own arrested development and troubled past to realize that Nelson was supposedly “different”.  Her elaborate story-telling, lack of regard for professional boundaries, and tendency to talk to herself made her, "suspect," in my opinion. Some of the characters seemed out of place too, like the female lead’s obnoxious black female room-mate that frequently used profanity and slurs. Who was she supposed to represent? In my opinion, perhaps Nelson (the main character) had a few traits of Aspergers Syndrome, but I felt that he was way more neuro-typical than autistic.  Still, I enjoyed this vanguard film and totally appreciated the writer/directors attempt to put adult autism in a more realistic, less stereotypical geeky, light. As a black women, I saw Nelson as more of a nerd or what some blacks would consider, “really smart;” I think that some blacks are less likely to put a derogatory label on an individual that is socially awkward though academically gifted. Growing up, family members that excelled in school were praised in spite of their “differences’. Those cousins who failed in school were the “undesirables”. For example, my soon-to-be ex has several degrees: engineering, math. This is nothing to sneeze at in my family. Those credentials can get you lots of praise and bragging rights. Back to the movie, I find that depicting autism romance does not really provide much insight on how they love or how they feel about intimacy. Life is not all romance (especially for an individual with social challenges); many Aspies may find more happiness in simply having a lifelong companion: loyal pet, loving family member, or a kind friend; and plenty of opportunities to share their special interests. I don’t think sex, love, and relationships are high on their “to do” lists in life. I believe that many Aspies/Auties feel pressured by society, family members even, to adapt to what is considered a normal life: finding a mate and having children. I don’t know many Aspies that made their children a ‘special interest’ unless, of course, that child has a common special interest, like trains, for example. Aspies’ wives may be the ‘special interest’ or obsession during their courtships with an Aspie, but once “real life” takes place, the demands of emotional reciprocity and becoming a responsible husband and father are often too much to handle, and the Aspie retreats to their comfort zone of self absorption and restricted interests. In my relationship, I always felt more like a “possession” or a “trophy,” my mom used to often comment that she thought my soon-to-be ex was obsessed with me. Thus, my romantic experience with an individual on the spectrum has not been positive. And, for the most part I have felt like a caregiver for an individual that thought marriage was going to be more like carefree dating and less like having adult responsibilities and holding oneself accountable. I’ll refrain from getting on my soap box about how my relationship with an Aspie was filled with a lot of empty promises, unfinished projects, avoidance, defensiveness, and isolation. Thank God he is a “nice guy” because I’ve heard many stories of extreme verbal abuse from some of the Aspie Wives with aggressive and angry Aspie husbands. Any who, “If You Could Say it In Words” is an enjoyable movie and many an Aspie spouse or girlfriend will relate to the subtle quirks in Nelson’s character [like impulsively correcting grammatical errors of others]. I would probably follow it up with the documentary, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” which follows 2 Aspies on their quests to meet the objects of their obsessive love. I’ve seen many of the movies depicting autism/Aspergers. My favorites are: My name is Khan, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Temple Grandin biopic, and the clay-mation feature film, Mary and Max [love this one].


  1. Your posts hit so close to home. You've got me wondering if my husband may have aspergers. I came to believe from my research that he has narcissitic personality disorder, but you posts have me thinking. Aspergers, narcissim I don't wish the relationship you've described and which I experience on anyone. It's a long healing process once you are free. Wish u all the best.

    1. Thanks so much for your support and words of encouragement...they mean a lot to me. :) I used to suspect that my Aspie partner was a narcissist too; but I found that the 'narcs' are usually pathologically self absorbed and tend to not care about others to the point of abusing others and/or using them to get their needs met. I think, for the most part, Aspies do care about people [relationships], they just have problems understanding how others feel and difficulties expressing how they feel in a way that other people can relate. My little one can usually sense when I am sad, but he is often confused about how he should respond: cry, scream, avoid, or comfort? I hope that you find balance in your relationship or if you have to end it, peace and satisfaction, knowing that you tried your best. It can be very difficult dealing with someone who can't really meet your emotional needs. I am just beginning to heal and forgive; it has been a long road.