Rain Man and a View of an Invisible Developmental Disability

The year was 1988 and it was called Rain Man.

The movie Rain Man.

Dustin Hoffman was cast as Tom Cruise’s long lost brother who had autism.

Although Rain Man portrayed many visually striking and engaging scenes (displaying such characteristics as rocking, screaming and head banging), autism ranges from very low functioning and severe to high functioning autism such as Aspergers syndrome.

Part of Rain Man’s appeal was Hoffman’s character as adult with autism. Children also show prevalent behavioral characteristics of autism such as shown in the movie.

Autism can be diagnosed in childhood, usually between the ages of 24 – 48 months of age, and is known as the “invisible disability”.  Even as autistic children age, they can look very normal and are beautiful children.  Their behavior is what gets attention as “odd” and peculiar.

Also, differences in the way the child interacts, socializes and communicates with people will become apparent over time.

From the various workshops and medical information I’ve been exposed to, I have learned that autism is a developmental disorder, which is thought to be genetically linked. Early treatment is critical in order to foster as normal development as possible.

In Rain Man, the contrast between Cruise’s character’s lifestyle before and after being thrust into the role of caregiver of an autistic brother is something to behold. As the movie shows, there is much responsibility Cruise’s character takes on.

A willing and deliberate decision must be made to care for anyone stricken with a disability. Autism, as a developmental disability, has its own characteristics that must be understood in order for one to provide the most effective help and means to cope.

What experience have you had with autism?

Can you relate to the struggles of developmental disabilities?

Share your story now by leaving a comment below.

Let me know your story.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of AutismToday.com


P.S. Get tips, strategies, and tools you need to help understand autism.

To download a video presentation about the nature of autism click this link:


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